Ondo State Governor Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and Laywer, activist, Bamidele Aturu have described the death of Chief Gani Fawehinmi as a painful loss for the nation. Aturu wrote:
Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi, irrepressible friend of the subjected, rejected, dejected, suppressed, repressed, oppressed and dehumanized underclass everywhere in the world is gone. Born in 1938 into doubtless aristocracy (his father was a successful timber merchant), he shunned and fought privileges with an unparalleled zeal.
In spite of his considerable wealth derived from his brilliant and painstaking professional practice, Ganiâ€™s real friends were the dispossessed of the earth, the physically challenged, indeed the proletariat of the world. His advocacy for the underprivileged was not restricted to the courtroom where in his inimitable fiery advocacy he won for them notable and significant victories. He advocated for the poor at the barricades- once, in a rare and yet unexampled display of sacrificial commitment to principles, he lay on the road daring the armoured tank of the military to crush him at Yaba during a protest against one of the military
governments; he fought for them in the mass media; he defended their cause in all the organizations he has been privileged to be a member or to found.
His struggles were complex and multi-dimensional. This was not surprising given the fact that the events that impelled him to become a social crusader and those which he helped shape are equally varied and complex. We do not require a prophet to know that long after Gani must have departed from this world his works and times would continually inspire scholarly and revolutionary writings.
Understandably, he provoked extremes of passion in people depending on their perspectives or their positions in the economy. Whether Gani is seen as a gadfly, an irritant, conscience of the nation or a social crusader, even his most uncharitable critic would admit that he is a militant with a cause and a militant that is at once irresistible and unforgettable.
In the practice of law his footprints are indelible. He democratized the practice of law by commencing in 1985 the publication of his authoritative Nigerian Weekly Law Reports. Hitherto, judgments of the superior courts, particularly those of the Supreme Court, were treated as an exclusive property of one or two influential lawyers. As litigant or as counsel, he fought and won many landmark cases thus helping to advance the countryâ€™s jurisprudence.
Chief Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi, the lion of Nigerian law, an indisputable colossus of humanism may be gone but his deeds and contributions to the struggle against oppression and for the emancipation of the masses are indelible. Gani lived, fought and died for the people. He was a fearless and tireless tormentor of those who imposed themselves as rulers on the hapless people of Nigeria. He was Godâ€™s gift to Nigeria.
We must resist the temptation to mourn Gani. His was a fulfilled life richly and fully lived in accordance with his philosophy and love for the oppressed. His achievements in his chosen field are monumental, his impact as the conscience of the nation undeniable, his legacy for posterity unforgettable. He has left a void that will be difficult to fill in our collective struggle for a better country. Our hearts are with his wives and children, both biological and otherwise.
Pretenders to power who dot our government houses must learn from Gani the virtues of selflessness, honesty and commitment to principles. For those of us in the broad pro-democracy movement necessity is laid upon us to carry on from where he stopped. The struggle sure continues.
Mimiko mourns Gani Fawehinmi, says death painful
The Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko on Saturday expressed sadness over the death of the human rights activist and legal luminary, Chief Abdul-Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi (SAN), whom he described as a Colossus and a pride not only to Ondo State, Nigeria but the whole world.
Mimiko who is also an indigene of Ondo town where Gani Fawehinmi hailed from said he received the news of the passage of Gani with a rude shock saying for him, Ganiâ€™s death â€œwas painful and an irreparable loss coming at this stage of our development in Ondo State when we needed his wealth of knowledgeâ€.
The governor who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Kolawole Olabisi stated: â€œOn behalf of the people of this Ondo State, I most sincerely thank the good Lord for giving us this distinguished man to us in Ondo State; he was an eminent Nigerian, a global personality of the finest cast who, no doubt lived a life of social struggle. His was a selfless life dedicated wholly to the advancement of justice and the defense of the common man.
â€œHis contributions to the development of our jurisprudence predicated upon a deep sense of revulsion at injustice and oppression remain unprecedented. In the seventy-one years that it pleases almighty Allah to bequeath him with on earth, Gani towered above several of his contemporaries and became an appropriate role model for generations of younger Nigerians.
â€œThough he is dead now, but we are grateful to the Lord for his life and we are proud of our association with him and we thank him for the eternal pride that he brought the way of our dear Ondo State, for whether anyone likes it or not, the Gani Fawehinmi phenomenon has helped substantially to define the nature and image of the Ondo State personality as a dedicated defender of the truth, a focused and conscientious hard worker, resilient in struggle, and driven by a deep sense of conformity with the omoluwabi ethos of the Yoruba.
â€œThough today, Gani Fawehinmi is no more, but we are consoled by the fact that he would rest well confident that his place in the heart of Nigerians and lovers of truth, freedom and justice all over the world is assured.â€
In demonstration of the high esteem he held the late social crusader, Dr Olusegun Mimiko on assumption of office as the governor on February 23, 2009 had on March 19 this year mandated the State owned University, the Adekunle Ajasin (AAU) to honour Gani Fawehinmi with a Special Convocation and confer on him a Honourary Doctorate Degree. The institution had earlier intimated Gani with its decision to honour him with a Honourary Doctorate Degree only to later drop the name of the gadfly from the convocation list for no identifiable reason.
Indeed, at the Convocation Gani, who represented by his daughter, Basirat Biobaku, was full of praises to God for what he termed â€œa new rebirth of Ondo Stateâ€ with the enthronement of popular democracy through the instrumentality of the law.
â€œMy father was overjoyed when he heard the verdict of the Appeal Court in Benin which declared Dr Mimiko as the Governor of Ondo State on February 23, this year. He called me from London and asked me if it was true that Mimiko is now the Governor of Ondo State and when I said yes, he now said, â€˜listen, I am going to sound like the Gani Fawehinmi that youâ€™ve always known. Ha! Ha! Thank God! Democracy has returned to Ondo State. The welfare of the people shall be the priority of the new government, Good roads, well equipped hospital, food on the table, potable water and clean environment shall be put in place and the people of Ondo State will rejoice once again. Oh! I am happy for Dr Mimiko and I know he will make the people of the State proud. I am fulfilled, I am happy to have witnessed this. Oh! I thank God!â€™â€
Quoting from the book of Proverbs, Fawehinmi, stated that â€œwhen a good man rules, the people rejoice but when a bad man rules, the people mourn. A good man has come to rule in Ondo State and the people must surely rejoice.â€
â€œMy father sends his best wishes to Dr Mimiko, he says for me to tell you that you will succeed; that you will not fail because you are destined to succeed, the Iroko tree never dies, and you will not die. I congratulate the people of Ondo State and I wish to tell you that I wholeheartedly accept this honour done to me with this special convocation ceremony. I thank you most profuselyâ€