Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola ( SAN) Thursday hosted dignitaries from all walks of life at a glorious farewell ceremony for the late Social Crusader and foremost lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
Dignitaries at the Police College, Ikeja venue of the lying in State ceremony which was jointly organized by the Lagos State Government and Civil Society Organizations included former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Lagos , Olusegun Osoba of Ogun State, Otunba Niyi Adebayo of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose of Ekiti , former Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Balarabe Musa,former Governor Chris Ngige, Retired General Alani Akinrinade, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Dr Frederick Fasheun, Mr Ledum Mitee, Mr Femi Falana, top Nigerian artistes and a cross section of civil society.
Speaking at the event, Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) urged all Nigerians to chart a new beginning for the country from the death of Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), saying: â€œWe must not let Ganiâ€™s life struggles end here. It must be the rallying point for all men of goodwill, young and oldâ€
Governor Fashola also said the message of late Chief Gani Fawehinmi remains the challenge of Nigeria today, adding that it also represents the Minimum Development Goals and a light into the path of the countryâ€™s quest for good governance.
The Lagos State Governor said Ganiâ€™s life struggle represents a charter of developmental objectives for the government because long before nations of the world gathered to sign a Millennium Development Goal, Chief Gani had agitated for good governance and public probity as the vehicles for the delivery of qualitative education, reliable and affordable healthcare, eradication of poverty, enthronement of the rule of law as the pre requisite for fighting injustice.
In his tribute, former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu saidÂ that for him and his political family, the greatest tribute they can pay to Gani is to continue in the struggle for the liberation and freedom of the Nigerian people along the line that Gani fought.
Said he: â€œPlease reassure our comrade brothers, M.K.O Abiola, Alao Aka Bashorun, Bala Usman, Beko Ransome Kuti, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, Senator Abraham Adesanya and many of the unknown defenders of our freedom when you meet them.
We shall carry the torch forward and continue to light the candle for the true freedom and liberation of the peopleâ€.
He added that Chief Gani Fawehinmi remained not only a patriot to the end, but a conscious patriotÂ who wanted the very bestÂ for Nigeria and her people and was willingÂ to risk all, including his life, in his questÂ to expose our countryâ€™s achilles heel to ensure Nigeria lived up to its billing and realize its often touted potentials.
Asiwaju Tinubu also said: â€œHe was the scourge of leaders who had contempt for the people, those who believed that they could always get away with imposing their undemocratic and reactionary views on Nigerians.â€
As he made enemies of the reactionary political elite, he grew in the estimation of ordinary Nigerians and the torrent of tributes from plebeians and even potentates is ample testimony to his very essenceâ€.
In his tribute, former Governor, Aremo Olusegun Osoba of Ogun State said late Chief Fawehinmi was one of the greatest supporters of the cause of journalism who contributed significantly to the growth of the profession.
He added that several times, he took up briefs on cases against journalists without taking any legal fees and described him as Commander â€“In â€“Chief of the Unarmed Forces of Nigeria.
Former Chief of Defence Staff and Pro Democracy activist, Chief Alani Akinrinade described the late Chief Fawehinmi as the best and most brilliant General that the pro democracy setting in Nigeria has ever had.
General Akinirinade said he was a man who cared for the ordinary man on the streets and went to jail several times on behalf of the people but never compromised.
A former Military Administrator of Lagos State and pro democracy activist, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu said the death of the legal icon should remind all Nigerians of the need to go back to the drawing board and let all jointly rebuild the nation into a united and federal Nigeria without any discrimination.
The founder of the Oodua People Congress, Dr Frederick Fasehun said Chief Fawehinmi was the greatest detainee that was never convicted and also confronted the Police authority to institutionalize the rule of law.
Former Governor of Kaduna State and Chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa said Gani was many persons rolled into one and who represented many things to many people.
He added that his preoccupation was fighting for the weak and giving nightmare to many tin gods who parade the corridors of power in Nigeria and touched the life of many.
A leader of the Niger Delta, Mr Ledum Mitee in his tribute said the legal struggle of Chief Gani during the dark days of the Abacha regime was responsible for his still being alive today.
He said he is a man who should be celebrated, adding that the spirit of Ganism would be celebrated by the people of Ogoni who have fixed the 26th of this month for the celebration of Gani and his life.
An associate of late Chief Fawehinmi, Mr Femi Falana called for an investigation of the death of the human rights activist, saying in the past he has had several brushes with the authority which has had a toll on his health.
Mr Falana added that Gani never believed in violence but is always insistent on using the instrumentality of the law to change the society.
He suggested that as a tribute to the late Chief, all States should as a matter of necessity introduce human rights studies as part of the syllabus.
Others who spoke at the ceremony include Dr Joe Okei Odumakin, former Governor, Chris Ngige of Anambra State, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, Dr Amos Akingba and former Minister of Education, Senator Jibril Aminu and many other notables and people from all walks of life.
In his vote of thanks, the eldest Son of Chief Gani Fawehinmi said the family has been strengthened and comforted by the expression of undiluted love shown to the family since the death of the Chief and the fact that his memory and spirit will continue to live with Nigerians forever.
He added that the pain felt by the family on the death of Gani has been smothered and cushioned by the outpouring of affections, emotions and the reactions of the Nigerian people.
The ceremony which also featured the recitation of poems by selected schools pupils and a filing past of the late Chiefâ€™s body was attended by his two wives, Ganiyat and Abike, children, grandchildren, relatives and members of the State Executive Council.