LAGOS-A Nigerian Constitutional Lawyer and Human Rights Activist, Dr. Tunji Abayomi has been awarded 2020 distinguished Alumni Award of the University of Toledo College of Law, Ohio, United State of America. This was contained in a statement signed by the Dean of the Faculty of the Institution, Benjamin Barros, where it eulogized the activist as a legal icon, who has spent 37 years of legal practice and advocacy for various abuse of constitutional and human rights, stating further that, Abayomi remained relevant in the arena of the defense of undemocratic system of in Nigeria. The statement reads:
“We have been excited to see signs of spring! While it has certainly been an incredibly challenging year, law students are winding down the semester. We are preparing to celebrate their accomplishments during an in-person Commencement, and we continue to receive incredible support from our alumni and friends.
“Recently, I provided a virtual update on the college with the help of Judge Jack Puffenberger ’78, president of the Law Alumni Affiliate. During the virtual event, we were able to introduce the college’s Distinguished Alumni Award honoree, Dr. Tunji Abayomi ’79.”, He said.
The Dean however noted that, they are aware of the pride and honour Abayomi has brought towards building and promoting academic research as Po-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko in Ondo State.
In his response, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, an alumnus of the institution expressed gratitude to Institution for the award. “Let me begin by expressing my deep appreciation to The University of Toledo, particularly to the law school at the University. The University trained us and has continued to follow our progress, supporting us, encouraging us to be even more than we can be.
“In 2005, The University of Toledo considered me worthy to be honored with nine world-changing leaders and today once again has decided to honor me as a distinguished alumnus of the University. I am a proud graduate of the great University of Toledo.I thank and I salute the great workers, the teachers, the faculty, the professors, and the leaders of the University”
“The University of Toledo is a very interesting and rewarding University. From the very day of orientation, we were challenged to search for knowledge. It was not an easy adventure, but the University didn’t reduce the challenge. Rather, the teachers, the professors, encouraged us to face them with courage determination. I celebrate these great professors like Professor Edwards and Professor Ripps and Professor Morano and Professor Wallin and many others who taught us to become great advocates for law, for democracy, and for human rights”
“I finished in The University of Toledo convinced that man functions best and highest in a state of freedom. I came back the very last day of 1980s to Nigeria to enter the struggle for liberty. From America, where man lives in freedom and in democracy under the rule of law, to Nigeria where men and women lived in fear and terror, military terror, I had to make a choice”
“This choice was for liberty, for democracy, and for the rights of citizens in Nigeria. That effort, my choice to work for liberty, democracy, and the rule of law, led to three detentions—one that lasted for 11 months. Eventually, we gained freedom, thanks again to The University of Toledo law school that joined a number of my friends, men and women of goodwill, to fight for my liberty.
“Eventually, I was released from my third detention, and then Nigeria also entered a new period of constitutionalism and democracy. I have continued to participate in this process either through advocacy, public issues, through writing, and of course mentorship in my capacity as a board chairman for my state university. University of Toledo remains a central influence in the story of my time, and I dedicate this important award to my great professors at The University of Toledo. There were times I had difficulties in terms of my school fees. I remember I was given a job by Professor Wallin in the library”
“I would also dedicate the award to two of my most important friends, Michael Frank who although saw me, listened to me as a foreign student with accent and an unlikely employee, nonetheless wagered his faith in my ability and employed me as a staff of Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE). I have many other friends that I want to thank for the role they played in my life. Jim Lett, Jim Winchell, and Jay Douglas—three young Americans who from September 1972 became my ally in my struggle to get education”, Abayomi noted.