By Aluta News
December 14, 2021
Epelle bags 2021 Franco-German Prize for Human Rights
President of Albino Foundation, Jake Epelle, has won the 2021 Franco-German Human Rights and Rule of Law Prize.
The award is presented annually by the France and German Embassies to people who distinguished themselves in promoting human rights across the world.
Epelle is the third Nigerian to win the award which is presented annually on the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The award was presented to Epelle on Tuesday in Abuja at a ceremony held at the French embassy.
Amb. Emmanuelle Blatmann, France Ambassador to Nigeria, said Epelle was chosen for his unwavering commitment to the promotion of human rights.
Blatmann said it was to pay tribute to all those who, “often risk their freedom and their lives” to ensure respect for human rights.
“At a time when these rights are increasingly threatened and undermined, the battle they wage is essential for safeguarding the fundamental freedoms inherent in democracy.
“Every year, the Franco-German Human Rights and Rule of Law Prize is awarded to 15 figures from different countries throughout the world who stand out because of their actions on the ground.
“This is actually the third in the history of the prize that a Nigerian candidate is selected.
“This shows the exceptional vitality of the women and men in the country, who sometimes devote with passion, their entire lives to a cause, braving all the dangers to which they are sometimes exposed.’’
Blatmann said Epelle is one of the extraordinary men, starting from nothing to change the mentalities and fight for those whose rights were often flouted.
She said that Epelle tackled challenges of people with albinism by raising awareness and mobilising on five key issues of social impact, discrimination, lack of health care for skin cancer and visual impairment.
He also tackled issues of lack of quality education, need for economic empowerment, fomulation of policies and sponsorship of bills among others.
German Ambassador to Nigeria, Birgitt Ory said that the prize was meant to encourage, commend and honour people.
“It is also to show that we are very conscious of the work human rights organisations do in Nigeria.
“We are proud of our host country and we are very happy that so many representatives of civil society are here today.
“We recognise the quite difficult and challenging work that Jake Epelle does for the Albino, it is not easy, there are probably days he was disappointed, but he was probably there to help people.
“We are here to put the spotlight on his work, we are really honoured and it is about time the Nigerian laureate earns this award.
“It is one of the best things we do with the German and French cooperation,’’ she said.
Responding, Epelle appreciated the two embassies for honouring him, and dedicated the award to the community of persons with disabilities, his wife and son, as well as Nigeria.
Epelle said that the awards meant a lot in terms of recognising the people whose rights should be protected and the need for more work for the marginalised, the downtrodden and voiceless.
“I give kudos to the media who have brought me where I am today; and it means everything, it means a lot to my country and I promise there will be much more force now on human rights.
“This is because it very important to us. In our organisation, we do have a project called albinism right, specifically for persons with albinism where we teach them about their rights, promote their rights and prosecute those who violate their rights.’’