Ariyo-Dare Atoye, civil rights champion, dies at 42 

Ariyo-Dare Atoye, a civil rights campaigner and prominent election reform activist, has died. 

He passed on in Abuja on Thursday afternoon after a protracted battle with lung cancer, his friends said from the hospital. He was 42. 

Mr Atoye, a trained news reporter who spent years covering national affairs for the News Agency of Nigeria, joined civil rights activism in the late aughts. After a brief foray into politics under the PDP administration of Goodluck Jonathan, he returned to activism and co-founded the Centre for Civil Liberty which he monitored out of Abuja. 

Under the centre and in partnership with several other civil rights groups and activists that included Deji Adeyanju and Omoyele Sowore, Mr Atoye sought stringent accountability from the Buhari regime, which quickly became a worrisome authority for many rights activists in Nigeria and beyond following its inauguration in May 2015.

Over the past half-decade, Mr Atoye has led a campaign for electoral reform in Nigeria, and his contributions to the recent changes to electoral guidelines by the Nigerian parliament were widely acknowledged.

After weeks of silence as he battled the ruthless disease that was spreading rapidly through his body, Mr Atoye posted a message to on Twitter, acknowledging support from friends and family while asking everyone to keep hope alive.

“I have done nothing to deserve all the prayers, calls, good will, generous donations, financial supports, efforts, love and affection,” he said on October 23. 

Anthony Ehilebo, who was friends with Mr Atoye for years, lamented his passing as a major loss to Nigerian civil society and political reform efforts. 

“He was very passionate about Nigeria and struggled consistently to ensure sustainable changes to our election and public service accountability,” Mr Ehilebo, a member of the opposition PDP, said. “I am broken.”

Additional details about his death have not been released by his doctors, but the development came as plans were being made by his friends to transport him to London for additional treatments. 

He was survived by his wife and children. 

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