Jake Epelle emerges 3rd Nigerian to win Franco- German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, 2021

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Kogiflame

Emmanuel kehinde, Ilorin

The Chief Executive Officer/Founder, The Albino Foundation, and Convener, Disability Inclusion Nigeria, Mr Jake Epelle; has become the third Nigerian to win the 2021 Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law.

The prize was presented to him by the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Her Excellency, Emmanuelle Blatman and the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Her Excellency, Birgitt Ory.

Mr Epelle received the prize in company with his delectable, pretty, charming and vivacious wife, Mrs Enya Epelle.

The presenters of the prize described Mr Jake Epelle as a strong advocate for the rights of Persons with Disabilities and a driving force for improving their inclusion and integration in civic, social, political and economic affairs.

The prize is a yearly award to personalities who made exceptional contributions to the protection and promotion of human rights and the rule of law in their country and at the international level.

France and Germany, since December 2016, in commemoration of the anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, pays tribute to persons who courageously defend human rights all over the world. Through these human rights defenders, both countries honour all human rights advocates who work every day to ensure that the declaration does not remain an empty slogan.

Head of Communications, The Albino Foundation, Afam Kasim, in a statement on Saturday, said the prize was given to Mr Epelle on December 13, 2021 by the French and German Ambassadors in Nigeria in recognition of Mr Epelle’s works to combat widespread stigmatization, discrimination, and exclusion faced by persons with disabilities in Nigeria, through The Albino Foundation, an organisation he founded in 2006.

The statement was titled, “Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, 2021.”

Kasim said, “Mr Jake Epelle, CEO/Founder of The Albino Foundation is honoured to be one of the fifteen global laureates of the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, 2021. Mr Jake Epelle happens to be the third Nigerian candidate to be selected for this prestigious prize since its inception.

“Since December 2016, France and Germany in commemoration of the anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights pay tribute to persons who courageously defend human rights all over the world. Through these human rights defenders, both countries honour all human rights advocates who work every day to ensure that the declaration does not remain an empty slogan.”

He added, “This prize is awarded yearly to figures who have made exceptional contributions to the protection and promotion of human rights and the rule of law in their country and at the international level. This year’s prize was given on December 13, 2021 by the French and German Ambassadors in Nigeria in recognition of Mr Jake Epelle’s works to combat widespread stigmatization, discrimination, and exclusion faced by persons with disabilities in Nigeria, through “The Albino Foundation, an organisation he founded in 2006. Mr Jake Epelle has become a strong advocate for the rights of Persons with Disabilities and a driving force for improving their inclusion and integration in civic, social, political, and economic affairs.

“Human rights are universal rights: that means that they apply to everyone, from their birth – unconditionally and equally, wherever they are in the world. Germany and France had therefore decided to establish an annual international Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law. The prize-winners will receive a certificate and a medal designed by artist Anna Martha Napp. The medal symbolises their active commitment to the defence of human rights and sends a clear message of appreciation.”

Mr Epelle in an interview said he was humbled by winning the prize. He stated that the award is an endorsement of his efforts.

He vowed to continue in his efforts to advocate for People Living With Disabilities and albinos.

He also said he will galvanise all the prize winners globally so that they could synergise, cooperate and be energised to continue in their great works.

Mr Epelle said, “Sincerely, I was not expecting it. I think it is an act of endorsement of the little efforts that we have been making. But it is also an indication to me that issues of Persons with Disabilities and the marginalised group are beginning to get the attention they deserve and sooner or later we will take the front seat. It is an opportunity for more work to be done. I am the third Nigerian to have won the prize. It has been running for at least three years. I am also looking at galvanising all the winners globally, bringing them together into a fellowship, so that we can do more globally.

“It is a token to my family who has endured all these years of my running around and living them behind. It is a token to the community of persons with disabilities in general. And particularly, a token to the Albinism community.

“And of course to Mr Success Nwogu.You have a part to play here because I will say that maybe without you, I probably would not have started this organisation because I remember when it started with Dr. (Paschal) Mugbo inviting me for a speaking engagement. God knows I did not know you. I met you there and you wanted to continue the conversation. In the course of that, I shared my heart and you were almost in tears and said to me, ‘Sir, why is it that you people have kept quiet for this long? You people have been going through this type of ordeal for long and you kept this long?” I said, ‘Well I do not know.”

He added, “And the next thing you did was to bring Mr Lawrence (Ani) into it and he published us. That major publication, including yours, were what attracted it. One thing after the other, that was how the foundation started. So you (Mr Success Nwogu) have a part to play in whatever success that we have. Somebody like you, you share in the dedication of this award. Lawrence shares in the award.

“And it is remarkable that we are having this conversation because (then) after you came, BBC (Radio) came and now we are talking, BBC is also coming. I am going to be on BBC television on December 29, 2021, for a 10-minute interview, focusing on the work that I am doing.

“So it is a thing of a humble accomplishment, a thing of hard work done but ultimately, it is a thing of all glory, honour and adoration to God Almighty Who has chosen me. It could have been another person. But by His grace, he decided to choose me to do what He is doing. It is humbling. I am very emotional about it. It is an honour and a rare privilege indeed. The ultimate glory goes to God. God decided to use me to do what He is doing. That is why nobody should act indispensably because it is just a privilege, it is not a right.”




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