SHEHU SANI: A journey of advocacy and activism from jail to senate

NewsroomMay 1, 20244 min

Driven by activism and relentless advocacy for democracy and good governance, Shehu Sani has journeyed from street protests to military dungeons and a four-year stint at the Senate. Esther Adedoyin examines his political trajectory in this EX-NASS MEMBERS SERIES.


Shehu Sani is many things including a politician, ex-senator, author, playwright, and human rights activist. Born October 29, 1967, in Tudun Wada, Kaduna state, he got his education at the Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) primary school in Badarawa, Kaduna, from 1975 to 1980. He then attended Government Day Secondary School in Kagara, Niger State, from 1980 to 1984, followed by Government Science College in Kagara. He pursued further studies at Kaduna Polytechnic from 1984 to 1993, graduating with an associate degree in Agricultural Engineering.


Thanks for your interest in our work. Subscribe to join our community and enjoy exclusive benefits (Read our PRIVACY POLICY)


During his time at Kaduna Polytechnic, Shehu Sani was actively involved in student union activities, serving in various leadership roles. He was influenced by his early exposure to leftist literature from his father’s library – a production manager and veteran journalist and by his mother’s community leadership and radical politics. His activism expanded nationally when he joined the Campaign for Democracy (CD), one the pro-demovcracy groups that tackled the military juntas that held sway prior to the 4th Republic. He played prominent roles and eventually became the northern coordinator and national vice chairman of the globally-recognised group.

His entry into politics was driven by a desire to change the status quo and fight against corruption. He founded the Civil Rights Congress (CRC), a non-governmental organisation dedicated to advocating for human rights and good governance in Nigeria. Through the CRC, Sani became a vocal critic of government policies and actions that he believed were detrimental to the welfare of Nigerians.

READ MORE: Corruption, politics, litigations, the root cause of Nigeria’s abandoned projects – Senator Shehu Sani

He continued to champion causes for the poor and disadvantaged. His outspoken nature and advocacy for justice often put him at loggerheads with the authorities, leading to several clashes with security agents and state power-wielders.

Shehu Sani was imprisoned by the Sani Abacha regime, where he was implicated in the 1995 phantom coup and sentenced to life in prison. His sentence was later commuted to 15 years. He spent his time in various prisons, including Kirikiri, Kaduna, Port-Harcourt, Enugu, and Aba. He continued to advocate for democracy and respect for human rights after his release and remained active in politics and civil society.

His political journey includes several attempts to secure a senate seat. Despite initial setbacks in 2003 and 2011 under different party platforms, he emerged victorious in 2015, winning the Kaduna Central senatorial district seat on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He became the first Nigerian senator to publicly declare his assets on September 4, 2015. However, in October 2018 he resigned from the APC and joined the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).

In January 2019, Shehu Sani faced allegations of bribery when businessman Sani Dauda accused him of demanding a bribe. The senator debunked the accusations, calling them a setup. However, he was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as Sani maintained his innocence insisting he was targeted for his political stance. Not much was heard of the matter amidst the 2019 general elections until it eventually fizzled out of public mentions. His bid for re-election failed as he was defeated by Uba Sani of the APC.

READ ALSO: Ajaokuta, Mambila, Tinapa among 8 abandoned projects with wasted funds

After leaving the Senate, Shehu Sani has remained active in public discourse and continues to advocate for various social causes. He is also involved in writing and speaking engagements, sharing his perspectives on governance, human rights, and other social issues.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please email us - - if you need this content for legitimate research purposes. Please check our privacy policy