Ayo Obe (née Ogunsola) is a legal practitioner and a partner, with Olasupo Shonibare, in the Lagos-based law firm, Ogunsola Shonibare. For three years from April 2006 she headed the Elections Program of the National Democratic Institute’s Nigeria office in Abuja.
Ms. Obe chairs the Board of Trustees of the Gorée Institute (Senegal) and is a trustee of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. In Nigeria, she is a member of the boards of the Centre for Law Enforcement Education (CLEEN), the Z.O. Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries and the inner-city Ajegunle Community Project. Ms. Obe was on the board of the Dakar-based Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) from 2006-2010. As a member of the Transparency Task Force of Columbia University’s Initiative for Policy Dialogue, she contributed the chapter on Nigeria’s quest for freedom of information legislation to the C.U.P.’s publication The Right to Know. She also participated as an international advisory group member on the Managing Global Insecurity project of the Brookings Institution, and New York and Stanford Universities.
Ms. Obe was President of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Nigeria’s oldest indigenous human rights organisation from 1995 to 2003, a period spanning the despotic rule of General Sani Abacha and Nigeria’s return to civilian rule in May 1999. She chaired the Transition Monitoring Group, an election-monitoring/democracy-building coalition of independent NGOs, from 2000 to 2002. From 2004 to April 2008, she was chair of the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy and was on the African Democracy Forum’s steering committee. Ms. Obe represented Nigerian Human Rights NGOs on the Police Service Commission, the civilian oversight body established under the Constitution for the Nigeria Police Force, from November 2001 to 2006.
In addition to articles published both at home and abroad, Ms. Obe has written weekly columns on current affairs for Nigerian newspapers such as The Guardian, Next and The Sunday Punch. Having previously presented the Nigerian Television Authority’s “You and the Constitution” on nationwide television in Nigeria, she now presents “On Point” for NTA International. She has delivered several lectures and papers on a range of human rights and democracy-related subjects, including the 2nd Annual lecture of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, papers on Shari’a Law in Nigeria at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and at Yale University. She has been a panellist at the Women’s Forum in Deauville, France, the Oslo Forum, the Beijing Forum and the Chinua Achebe Colloquium in Providence R.I.
Ms. Obe was born in the United Kingdom on the 24th May 1955 and is a Nigerian and British citizen by birth. She schooled in Britain and Nigeria, received her LLM from the University of Wales and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1978. She lives in Lagos and has one daughter.