Akhigbe, Jakande, Tinubu, Ribadu, CDHR, others pay tribute

By Okey Ndiribe, Innocent Anaba,Wahab Abdullah George Onah, & Dapo Akinrefon
THE remains of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) would be buried on September 15 at Ondo State. This was disclosed yesterday by the first son of the deceased Mohammed Fawehinmi while speaking to newsmen at the Lagos residence of the late lawyer and human rights activist.

It was gathered that the family of the late lawyer was holding a meeting yesterday afternoon ostensibly to plan for the burial.

Meanwhile, Nigerians from all walks of life have been trooping to the home of the deceased lawyer to express their condolence messages. Among prominent Nigerians who visited the residence of the Fawehinmis yesterday was second republic Governor of Lagos State Alhaji Lateef Jakande.

Jakande while paying tribute to the late activist said:  “I console with everyone who will miss him  for his unique contribution to the service of the people of Nigeria. We will never forget.”

He continued:  “I believe that God in his mercy will reward him for his unique service to Nigeria. Nobody will be like him. He was unique.”

Also paying tribute to the late legal icon the immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said the best legacy “we can give Gani is to have a comprehensive electoral reform that will include punishment for electoral mal-practices and irregularities.”

The former governor, while also consoling with the family of the bereaved said:  “We will always look for a hero in our people. We have lost a gem. He can live to eternity, but you and I must take a challenge and look for an alternative.”

Speaking further, he said that “it does not mean that the struggle will die; we will continue from where he  left us. I am not a lawyer, but the legal profession has its  own challenges. There are so many aspects of Gani that we have to put together and actualize. He was a patriot and one of the best in the country”.

The Widow Alhaja Ganiyat Fawehinmi

In his own remarks while recounting his last moments with the late human rights activist, President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), said:  “ The last moment I had with him was in his house and that was when he took ill.  He had to travel and later came back. I remember then that he was sounding sonorous. Chief Gani was as usual so proud of the bar.”

Continuing, the NBA president said “He was so proud of what we were doing and he was telling me then that the bar must continue with the struggle. We were to meet him during the NBA conference but it was rather unfortunate.”

Other eminent Nigerians who thronged the Ikeja residence of the late human right activist include: Chief Wale Babalakin, National Coordinator of the Ijaw Monitoring Group (IMG), Comrade Joseph Eva; Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Inumidun Akande; former Secretary-General of National Democratic Coalition Mr Ayo Opadokun  amongst others.

Comrade Femi Aborishade weeping as more Nigerians pay condolence visit to the families of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Lagos based Lawyer/ Human Right Activists Photo: Biodun Ogunleye

Reacting to the death of Fawehimi the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) in a statement it issued yesterday  expressed shock over what it described as “ the final exit of Chief Fawehinmi which  has marked the physical end of a radical phenomenon that was a thorn in the flesh of irresponsible government leaders  in Nigeria for over 40 years.”

The group’s  National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin who issued the statement further noted that : “The late activist lived a beautiful life dedicated to beliefs and actions in defence of the cause of the cheated, persecuted and oppressed people of Nigeria.”

Odumakin further stated that : “for his uncompromising stance on the issues of human liberties, democracy and good governance  Gani was beaten, incarcerated  uncountable times, jailed for no just cause and charged with all manners of offences including attempting to burn his own house under the Babangida regime.”

Odumakin further stated that: “ Chief Fawehinmi remained unbowed and un-cowed insisting that the rights of citizens must triumph over impunity without caring for his life in the process. He has departed at a time Nigeria is careering dangerously to the precipice with all appearances of a failing state incapable of guaranteeing the basic services of any responsible government.”

The group’s spokesman lamented: “ That with all his means, our run down healthcare system could not even diagnose Gani correctly until things got out of hands typifies the perilous state in which the masses Gani fought for all his life have found themselves after 40 years of Gani’s struggles.

Now that he can’t physically rail against them anymore, elections riggers, treasury looters and ruiners of our country would be falling over themselves to mourn (mock) the dead. But we are convinced that the spirit of Gani would reject such crocodile tears just as he rejected their “honour” without honour even on his sick-bed.”

Meanwhile more reactions have continued to trail Saturday’s demise of legal icon, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). Among the reactions received yesterday were from:

Rtd Vice Admiral Mike Okhai Akhigbe, former Vice President, who said “Chief Gani Fawehinmi was a ‘one-man army’ who fought relentlessly for the enthronement of democratic rule in Nigeria and for the rule of law. Through his efforts he did not only give hope for justice for the common man but also inspire some of us to work assiduously for the enthronement of democratic governance in our nation.

Though the fruits of his efforts are yet to be fully reaped, he will certainly be remembered as the number one Nigeria crusader for justice and the rule of law. The only true honour we can do to this great Nigerian is to commit ourselves to his struggles to ensure democracy and the rule of law in our land. may his soul rest in peace.”

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman,  said “it is with great sadness that I received the somber news of the passing away of one of the greatest Nigerians that ever lived. My dear friend, father, mentor and believer Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN. Gani was a revered individual and his untimely death is a tragic loss to Nigeria particularly at this moment in our history, but we must take consolation and celebrate his life as the father of modern day democracy in Nigeria .

Gani was a selfless man, who fought the military and evil dictators but sadly, it all came at a cost, but one which Gani was prepared to take. Gani fought for justice, fairness and equality.

“He was a true image of Nigerian unity; a pillar for the poor and a voice that spoke against the enemies of the people – the oppressors and the corrupt. It is a known fact that Chief Gani has played the most significant role in the development of modern law in Nigeria from his law reports to the uncountable cases that he handled through our court systems, most of which were substantially  pro bono and the country will forever remain grateful for such a monumental role he played.

“I first met Gani when I was a Trainee Prosecutor in 1984-85 during the trial of the politicians that were responsible for the corruption that led to the demise of the second republic. Gani took a position against the NBA and thereby giving legitimacy to the tribunal that were trying the corrupt politicians.

Subsequent events and history proved Gani right as corruption still remains the single most debilitating disease to plague the country and which continues to threaten the moral fabric of this nation.

Gani can be certain his efforts were an igniting force towards the major task ahead of us of eradicating this disease so that the people and indeed the country can realise progress. Having met Gani at such an early stage of my career has defined my public  life and I ever remain his product.

His friendship and unwavering support played the most substantial role at the EFCC and made us succeed in our attempt to change Nigeria for the good.

“His support will be really missed but will be remembered for his legacy- the emergence of a generation of Nigerians who believe in justice, fairness and equality and who are not afraid to speak out especially for those who don’t have a voice.

Gani’s legacy will resound with us for generations to come. He taught us to stand firm against all that work against the common good of our commonwealth. My last conversation with him was an agreement to mobilize Nigerians for Change.

My dear friend may your soul rest in peace. I send my deepest condolence to his family. I regret that I am unable to be with them and my fellow Nigerians at his Jannazah. I pray to the Almighty Allah to grant this honorable man Aljanna, and give his family the fortitude to bear his loss”.

Mr Lawal Rafui-Rabana (SAN),  former National Secretary of the NBA, “Gani was a great Nigerian, a social critic, who had always stood for good governance and the enthronement of genuine democratic government. Within the legal profession, we are going to miss him because of his immense contributions to the development of legal profession through his publications”.

Chief Jude Nnodum (SAN), former Imo state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice
“That is a tragedy. It is a pity. It is a colossal loss to the legal profession and to the nation. He was one man who helped in democratising the practice of law through regular publication of the judgements of our superior courts in Nigeria, therefore making it possible for all lawyers and practitioners to have access to our laws.

He fought many legal battles which benefitted the society at large, particularly the legal profession. Let us pray that his publication does not stop”.

Chief Goddy Uwazurike, Lagos lawyer and Vice President, Aka Ikenga,
“Gani was one of the most consummate lawyers that ever came out of the country.  Gani believed in the efficacy of the law.  He was a fighter with a cause.  He lived and died a lawyer”.

Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) said “the death Chief Gani Fawehimi is tragic and unfortunate at this critical this period in the history of Nigeria. Chief Fawehimi lived his life for humanity.

We commiserate with the whole civil society groups who will definitely feel the impact of the late sage, who through various confrontations with the despotic and tyrannical governments of Nigeria had in time past saved lives and secured freedom for innocent Nigerians who were unjustly incarcerated.

“Chief Gani Fawehimi was a defender of the defenseless, a dogged freedom fighter, and indomitable man of the masses; a populist, a relentless philanthropist, a legal icon and a resolute human rights activist. The legal profession, human rights communities and humanity in its generality will greatly miss this illustrious son of Nigeria”.

Chief Richard Ahonaruogho, said “the demise of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN is a watershed and a great loss to all lovers of justice and a just rule of law, true federalism and true democratic practices and principles in Nigeria. A legal Icon, Author, Social critic and reformer, Humanist, Freedom fighter, Pan Africanist lover of education and exemplary philanthropist he will be greatly missed by lawyers and other Nigerians for his forthrightness and courage even in the face of personal danger.

He was a touch bearer who showed forth the light even in the dark days of military rule. A legal warrior denied honours due him at home but who was most eloquently recognized by all including the international Bar Association (IBA) as a foremost human rights Activist and winner of the IBA prize for human rights. I am indeed happy to have subscribed as a member of the Gani Fawehinmi solidarity association”.

Prince Tonye Princewill,  leader of the Action Congress in Rivers State said that the death of Lagos lawyer Chief Gani Fawehinmi came at a wrong time because it “has come at a critical point of our nation’s history”.

“Niger Delta has lost a devoted supporter”, Princewill said Similarly, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said Through its spokesman Jomo Gbomo that “Nigeria has lost a kind man who put others before himself.

His legacy of fighting for the downtrodden against larger opponents like the government in no small measure inspired us to fight oppressive giants today”.

The state AC also remarked that  “Rivers State AC joins the whole nation and indeed the world to mourn the passing of Gani Fawehinmi. The unbelievable news of the death of Gani was received with great shock”.

A statement by the party, signed by its publicity secretary Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze and made available to Vanguard in Port Harcourt said Princewill was deeply saddened by Gani’s passing at this critical point of our nation’s history.

Gani’s death, an important voice had been silenced and prayed that his lifetime of devotion to social justice, activism and the civil liberties of the oppressed will continue to inspire generations of Nigerians”.

It said,  “for Gani’s life not to have been in vain, all Nigerians have a commitment to ensure that the struggle for an end to institutionalized terrorism and criminality in Nigeria continues. ”


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.