By Ola Ajayi
IBADAN – GOVERNOR Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State has described Chief Gani Fawehinmi as a formidable advocate for the upliftment of justice, freedom and the rule of law.
The governor, in a statement through his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Oloye Gbade Ishola, said the late lawyer starved himself so that the common man could eat.
Also, his ally, Femi Aborisade commended Fawehinmi for the process of pursuing his lifetime goal and aspiration, noting that Gani realized there was a need for organisation to canalize the energies of the people to resist injustice and attain political empowerment.
He did the calculations of the various maltreatments Fawehinmi suffered in the hands of successive governments saying, â€œhe suffered 32 detentions in police and state security cells, detention in 8 prisons at 8 different times, invasion of his houses and chambers by uniformed security agents in searches, and seizure of his international passport on 10 different occasions.â€
No Nigerian, living or dead, he went on, had a record of such agonizing experience in the pursuit of emancipatory struggles. â€œChief Gani Fawehinmi belonged to the group of Nigerians who were courageous and committed in fighting for the cause of the poor.
But no wealthy Nigerian had ever deployed his wealth in pursuit of struggles of the oppressed while still being actively and practically involved in political mass mobilization, rallies and protests as much as Chief Gani Fawenhinmi did. To this extent, it will be difficult to find a replacementâ€.
Akala said he received the news of the death of the social activist with deep regret adding that he condemned himself to a nearly a perpetual life behind bars so that the helpless in the society could have access to the good things of life.
He recalled how the lawyer traversed several police detention centres and prison yards across the country not for any act of malfeasance but his regular incarceration was purely for his human right activities.