Fire-eating lawyer and Nigeria’s foremost human rights activist, Chief Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi is dead. The news of the death of the Human Rights crusader hit the Nigerian nation early this morning.
Gani, who has been fighting a terminal illness over a period of time has championed human rights activities in Nigeria for decades and led the legal team in most of the nation’s celebrated cases. He was said to had died last night.
Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi was born in April, 1938, he dedicated his whole life to the defence of human rights and condemnation of all ill government polices, fought the military junta with all that he had.
In 2003 he founded the National Conscience Party in 2003.
What people think of GANI
Joseph Contrears of Newsweek magazine, a leading magazine in the United States in an interview with Fawehinmi in the October 10, 1994 edition at page 56 of the magazine titled â€œNo Freedom without a fightâ€ said of him:
â€œGani Fawehinmi is Nigeriaâ€™s best-known human-rights attorney. He is also a leader of the pro-democracy movement that is currently protesting the de facto state of emergency imposed by the military regime of Gen. Sani Abacha.â€
Catriona Rogan writing in the Washington Times of Thursday, November 23, 1995 titled â€œNigeria Outsider who will be Insiderâ€ wrote of Gani as follows under the caption â€œFawehinmi challenges military in the street.â€
â€œNigeriaâ€™s â€œSteve Bikoâ€, Chief Fawehinmi is a larger-than-life politician and lawyer with a track record of defending human rights activities, including the ethnic Ogoni, who have fought Shell oil which drills in their home land near the Niger River delta over environment issuesâ€
James Brooke writing for the New York Times of Friday, October 28, 1988 under the heading â€œA Gleeful David to Face the Goliath that is Nigeriaâ€ describes Gani thus:
â€œFawehinmi is taking a different strategy to hasten the return of democracy to Nigeria, Africaâ€™s most populous nation. This year, he has emerged as a one-man movement battling Nigeriaâ€™s Military Government for more civil freedoms now.â€
Chief Gani who was called to the Nigerian Bar on the 15th of January, 1965 had his early education at Ansar-Ud-Deen Primary School, Iyemaja – Ondo 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.
On the 8th of December 1958, he was given a letter to his late father by the principal of the college, Rev. Akinrele. In it, the principal advised that Gani must be encouraged to study Law as a profession.
While in college, he his passionate interest in national, legal and political affairs earned him the name the â€œNationâ€
On the 29th of April, 1961, he left the shores of Nigeria by Sea with M. V. Aureol Passenger Ship for the United Kingdom. He arrived Liverpool on the 12th of May, 1961. He travelled by train to London arriving Victoria Station in the evening of that day.
Gani the ‘Toilet Cleaner”
On arrival in England, Gani received the result of his General Certificate of Education (G.C.E) Advanced Level which he took shortly before he left Nigeria.
He then enrolled in the Holborn College of Law for the LLB degree of the University of London (External) in September 1961. He was in part II of the three year degree programme when his father died on February 5, 1963 and the source of his finance dried up.
All efforts to secure financial help failed. He was forced by financial circumstance to drop out of the Holborn College as a full time student.
He then took a full time job as a Toilet Cleaner in Russell Square Hotel in Southampton Row, London. He did other cleaning jobs which included working as a sweeper in the old Gatwick Airport between February 1963 and August 1964.
He literally taught himself Law for parts II and III of the LLB degree course and sat for and passed all his examinations. He came back to Nigeria in early September 1964
On his arrival in Lagos, he enrolled in the Nigerian Law School at No. 213A, Igbosere Road, Lagos for the compulsory three months course which he successfully completed.
Gani’s wives & children
Gani is married to Mrs. Ganiat Ibukun Fawehinmi, nee Orebela a native of Ago-Iwoye in Ijebu, in Ogun State. She has eight (8) children for him. Gani has another wife, Mrs. Abike Fawehinmi, nee Ikuomuyilo, from Ondo. She has six (6) children for him.