The Story Of Legendary Legal And Humanitarian Icon, Gani Fawehinmi (Photos)
Here is the story of legendary legal and humanitarian icon, Gani Fawehinmi.
All you need to know about the man. Repost to educate someone
When Chief Gani’s 14-year old first child asked for his dad’s support to go to the Nigeria Defence Academy taking the NDA’s form to his father to sign, Chief Gani left the form, reached for the cane and flogged the young man for planning to join his tormentors.
From Kaduna prison to Jos prison, from Gombe prison to portharcourt prison, from Kuje prison to Ikoyi prison, Chief Gani Fawehinmi was the most jailed human right activist from Nigeria.
For raising his voice against injustice, his books were confiscated, his library set ablaze, his house and chambers were always raided and he was assaulted on Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way in Lagos by Naval officers. His travails from security agents never dissuaded him from defending the poor and the weak in the society.
“I defended the students of University of Ibadan in 1971 when one of the students, Kunle Adepeju, was shot dead by the police under Gowon’s regime and the government of the day set up a Commission of enquiry headed by Justice B. O. Kazim. and I represented the students for 5 months in that tribunal of enquiry. In 1976, I defended the students of University of Benin against the wrath of the military government.
In 1983, under Shehu Shagari, there was a peaceful demonstration by more than 4000 students of the University of Maiduguri against the misdirected high handedness of the leadership of Professor Jubril Aminu, (former Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S.)
Several students were expelled and their education illegally truncated. I fought to the Supreme Court to obtain victory. This is just to mention few of my struggles for justice.” Gani recalled.
They always came for him. He was arrested on his 50th birthday. “I witnessed one of the times they came to arrest him in the house. They were about armed 20 policemen. It was as if they were coming to take a criminal and they brought a big Black Maria.
When he was asked the possibility of defending Ralph Uwazurike he said: “If am approached by Uwazurike to take up his case, I will fly straight to wherever he is or, if I cannot go there by air, I will go there by road.
If I cannot go there by road, I will trek to defend his right to hold an opinion because freedom of speech is a fundamental right. Because he has the right to pursue any objective and if they feel that his objective is criminal, then he has the right to defend himself in the court of law and we shall defend the issue of his fundamental rights”.
The incorruptible Chief Gani was able to speak truth to powers because he had nothing to hide. He once said; “I have never got any contracts from any local government, state government or from federal government.
I don’t even know the house of ministers. I never met any Head of State in my life. I’ve never met any minister in my life. I’ve never submitted any application for contract anywhere in my life. I have never submitted any application for contract at any level whatsoever.”
Chief Gani was Unbiased, detribalized and unsentimental patriot. When his own daughter was working in his Chambers, she either resumed before/at 7am or be locked outside the gate like any latecomer.
Chief Gani’s lung began to deteriorate while doctors were busy focusing on his heart and blood pressure. It got so bad that he called his cardiologist, Dr Mike Fadayomi, his childhood friend from the age of four. He is one of the best cardiologist in this world. He directed Chief Gani to a radiologist to do the X-ray first. When he (radiologist) came with the wet X-ray and showed it to Gani and Fadayomi, the cardiologist shouted;
“Gani something dangerous is wrong with your left lung. You must run to London. I don’t understand this” When Chief Gani got to London the doctors told him that he was among the 5% patients in the world who don’t smoke or drink and yet had lung cancer. Gani narrated his ordeals to the doctors in London and one of them hinted that his “horrible detention” must have triggered the lung failure.
The human right activist was asked to prepare for the worst and Gani wept. To prevent politicians from “hijacking” his burial, Gani bought his casket while alive and made cash available for his funeral with instructions to his children about how he liked his funeral to be.
Chief Gani Fawehinmi literally lost his voice to the ravaging lung cancer before his Sun finally set on 9th September 2009. And Nigeria hasn’t been able to find a replacement for that voice of justice and courage till date.
Gani Fawehinmi biography
Chief Abdul-Ganiyu “Gani” Oyesola Fawehinmi, GCON, SAN (22 April 1938 – 5 September 2009) was a Nigerian author, publisher, philanthropist, social critic, human and civil rights lawyer, and politician.
-Born: Abdul-Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi on 22 April 1938
-Ondo: Southern Region, British Nigeria (now in Ondo State, Nigeria)
Died: 5 September 2009 (aged 71)
-Occupations: Author Publisher Philanthropist Social critic, LawyerPolitician
-Traditional Role: He held the chieftaincy title of the Lamofin of Ondo.
Born into the family of Saheed and Munirat Fawehinmi of Ondo, in Ondo State. His father, Chief Saheed Tugbobo Fawehinmi, the Seriki Musulumi of Ondo, was a successful timber trader, philanthropist, civic activist and muslim chieftain of the Yoruba people.
He was reported to be a follower of Ajao, who brought Islam to Ondo City, southwestern Nigeria. Chief Saheed Tugbobo Fawehinmi died on 5 February 1963 at the age of 89 years. Gani’s grandfather was the late Chief Lisa Alujanu Fawehinmi of Ondo, who engaged in several successful battles for and on behalf of the Ondo people in the nineteenth century. Hence, the appellation the ‘Alujanun’, which means spirit. He died at the age of 92.
Gani had his early education at Ansar-Ud-Deen Primary School, Iyemaja – Ondo state from 1947 to 1953 and his secondary school education at Victory College Ikare, a Christian School from 1954 to 1958, under the leadership of the Late Rev. Akinrele where he sat for and passed his West African School Certificate Examination in 1958. While in college, he was popularly known as “Nation” because of his passionate interest in national, legal and political affairs.
He was an avid reader of Daily Times and West African Pilot, the most popular newspapers in Nigeria at that time. He then worked briefly as a law clerk in the High Court of Lagos until 1961. Gani enrolled at the Holborn College of Law- University of London to read law in 1961.
While at University, his father died. He completed his academic degree in London with a measure of difficulty due to lack of funds. This involved doing various menial jobs in London, while in London, he was acquainted with books of revolutionary or radical figures such as Fidel Castro, Winston Churchill, David Ben-Gurion, Ghandhi, Mao Tse Tsung and Karl Marx. He returned to Nigeria in 1964 and was called to the bar the following year. He then worked briefly at the law firm of his brother, the late Hon. Justice Rasheed Olabamidele Fawehinmi before branching out on his own.
In 1994 he and some other notable Nigerians formed the National Conscience Party of Nigeria which exists till today and he stood for a presidential election in 2003 under the umbrella of the National Conscience Party. Gani Fawehinmi was elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the highest legal title in Nigeria, in September 2001.
Fawehinmi gained prominence when he took on the case of a factory worker, Bala Abashe who alleged that the Secretary to the government of Benue-Plateau State, Andrew Obeya had an affair with his wife. Abashe then sued Obeya for assault and damages for adultery. Fawehinmi took on the case as a pro bono lawyer for Abashe while the state government stood behind their official.
Efforts were made for Fawehinmi to drop the case, when that failed, Obeya was forced to resign. However, Fawehinmi was detained for nine months. The publicity of the case improved the exposure of his law practice. From 1971 to 1973, he was the national publicity secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association. However, in 1981, Fawehinmi was queried by a disciplinary committee and told to explain himself within fourteen days why he was touting himself through advertisements in a weekly publication contrary to the ethics of the bar.
In the case, Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) . Chief Gani Fawehinmi (1985) the Supreme Court upheld the Appeal Court judgement rendering the LPDC’s proceedings against Chief Fawehinmi ineffective on the basis that the constitution of the LPDC with the Attorney-General as Chairman made him accuser, prosecutor and judge at the same time which breached the principles of natural justice and therefore Chief Fawehinmi’s right to fair hearing.The judgement led to an amendment of the Legal Practitioners’ Act 1975.
Fawehinmi later ran afoul of an NBA directive. In 1984, when the new Buhari administration enacted the Recovery of Public Property decree, the NBA under the presidency of Bola Ajibola directed its members not to represent any of client in a military tribunal. Fawehinmi flouted the directive because he believed the accused should be made to disgorge any money stolen as a result his name was placed in NBA’s dishonour roll.
Dele Giwa Murder Case:
In 1986, while Chief Gani Fawehinmi was Dele Giwa’s Lawyer, the latter was killed in a bomb blast under suspicious circumstances. As a result of his activities, Chief Gani Fawehinmi had been arrested, detained and charged to court several times. His international passport was seized on many occasions and his residence and Chambers were searched several times
He was beaten up time after time and was deported from one part of the country to another to prevent him from being able to effectively reach out to the masses among whom he was popular. His books were confiscated by the Federal Military Government and his library at Surulere, a suburb of Lagos, were set ablaze. His law Chambers at Anthony Village, Lagos State, were invaded by persons suspected to be agents of the government. The guards were shot, two of them seriously wounded.
In the process of his crusades for the rule of law, the hopes and aspirations of the poor and the oppressed, he fought many battles against military dictatorship as a result of which he had been arrested several times by the military governments and their numerous security agents. He was dumped in many police cells and detained in several prisons between 1969 and 1996.
His supporters have called him “the scourge of sphygmomanometer with which the blood pressure of dictators is gauged, the veritable conscience of the nation and the champion of the interests and causes of the masses”. Many Nigerians also took to calling him the people’s president.