By Dayo Johnson
AKURE â€” AMIDST tears, the body of the late legal icon and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, was committed to mother earth yesterday at his Oka palatial building beside his late mother, Alhaja Munirat Fawehinmi, in Ondo town.
The corpse, in a gold-plated casket was lowered into the white marbled grave at exactly 3.22 pm.
The shouts of â€œNo, Noâ€ and â€œwe will miss Ganiâ€ rent the air just as his widows, Ganiat and Abike and his 14 children wept inconsolably at the grave side.
His widows offered short prayers after the casket was lowered into the ground after which they and the children led by Muhammed, the first son, performed the dust-to-dust rites as more tears flowed freely just as side orations were done by lovers of Gani, particularly by human rights activists.
Four slabs were used to cover the grave and it was immediately sealed.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko, his wife Kemi, the former Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi and other human rights activists were present at the grave side.
The Oka country home of Gani was turned into a Mecca of sorts as thousands of people milled around eating and drinking while some people made brisk business selling souvenirs and snacks.
The roads leading to the civic centre where a lying-in-state took place, the mosque where a service was held and the country home were condoned off by security operatives to allow for free passage for the cortege and dignitaries.
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka whose oration was read by Joe Odumakin, coordinator of Campaign for Democracy, CD, said he will never abandon the ideas and dreams of Gani.
Who is next, Soyinka asks
Soyinka asked rhetorically: â€œafter Gani, who is next to take up the baton and fight for the oppressed as Gani did throughout his life time?â€
Meanwhile, a lying-in-state for Gani was earlier held at the Oba Adesanoye Civic Centre in Ondo town for about two hours where Nigerians from all walks of life paid their tributes.
Former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, while speaking at the ceremony assured Nigerians that patriotic, progressive and revolutionary Nigerians will continue the struggle for a new, social, economic and political order in the country.
General Buhari who spoke through Chief Yomi Tokoya, a former governorship candidate of the ANPP in Lagos State predicted that many Ganis would emerge in Nigeria now and they will organise and mobilise the vast majority of our sufferings, oppressed and exploited people.
â€œThey would ensure fundamental and qualitative changes in the social, economic and political structures of our decadent society.â€
Buhari said that Gani was totally â€œcommitted to defending and liberating the marginalised poor and common people of Nigeria. You will surely live in the hearts and minds of the marginalised, poor and common people of Nigeria.
â€œI wish to assure you that the divine patriotic progressive and revolutionary struggle continues for a new Nigeria.â€
At the ceremony, Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole said that Gani left an unfinished business and that the business will be continued.
According to him â€œGani left us with an unfinished business. But l want to assure you that we will continue with the business by the special grace of God.
â€œGani wanted a government that can provide for its citizens, wanted a University system that cannot be shut down, where no Nigerian would be denied Justice, where workers are not intimidated. We will all miss him, but we will not allow all he stood for and believed in die. We will continue with the unfinished business.â€
The NANS representatives from the University of Maiduguri, Olalekan Smart, appealed to the governors to speak with the President on the need for the Federal government to end their face-off with ASUU.
Smart said that Nigerian students are tired of the industrial crisis.
Governor Mimiko at the lying-in-state said that the struggle continues adding that the state was celebrating Gani and not mourning him because he was great while alive and greater in death.
He said that Nigerian should borrow a leaf from the benevolence of Gani who was paying salaries of thousands of people without them working for him adding that Nigerians should be alive to social responsibility to fellow Nigerians.
â€œWe should embrace social responsibility programme to take care of the weakest in the society.â€
Mimiko prayed that God should raise many more Gani for the liberation of the country and the less privileged.
Ganiâ€™s corpse â€˜kidnappedâ€™ â€” Imam
The corpse was thereafter taken to the Ondo Central mosque at exactly 2.40pm in a golden casket but wrapped with white cloth, according to Islamic injunction.
The Chief Imam, Alhaji Basiru Alimi, showered praise on Gani, saying he lived for the people and died for the people.
Alimi said that the deceased was a strong believer in the Islamic injunction and said that recently when his sister died, he gave an instruction that she should be buried immediately according to the Islamc injuction.
He expressed joy the â€œthose that kidnapped Gani and took his body round the state have finally brought it back to us.â€
According to him, the jamboree that the families of Gani allowed his corpse to undergo can be likened to a man whose wife was kidnapped and he started praying and later the wife was released and he was happy thereafter.
â€œWe have received our son back from kidnappersâ€ the Chief Imam declared.
He said that Gani was respectful, generous and does not believe in idolatry.
More Nigerians pay tributes
Kayode Soyinka who in his tribute was full of praise to Fawehinmi, said if not for the deceased, he (Soyinka) would have been linked with the killing of the late founding Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch Magazine, Dele Giwa.
â€œFawehinmi was remarkable in many ways. He was the first caller in the hospital when Giwa was killed. Gani knew the meaning of friendship; he used the only instrument he had to fight for justice. We will invoke his sprit for the battle to liberate the people from oppression and want.â€
The Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), in its tribute read by Dr. Rotimi Ademodi, said â€œGani was ubiquitous, as long as he heard a distress call, he promptly hearkened. He had journals for the studious, scholarship for the ambitious, impatience for the mediocre and intolerant he was to the tyrant.
â€œHe had a dream that Nigeria is paradise where there is access to essentials of life, where even the poor can engage in litigation. Gain demystified the legal world and de-compartmentalised religionâ€.
Also speaking, the national president of the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria (ASUU), Prof. Alozie Awuzie, said Fawehinmi would be remembered for his dogged fight for the downtrodden.
According to Awuzie â€œFawehinmi struggled to ensure that Nigerians have free and qualitative educationâ€, adding that he also struggled against dictatorship.
â€œHe struggled against dictatorship, his fight for students, for Nigerians generally placed him in a special position in the annals of this country.
â€œWe will miss him in this struggle for genuine electoral reforms because we are yet to have a democracy in this country, what we have is an ordinary civilian rule.â€
Dignitaries storm Ondo for Gani
Present at the ceremonies were the Governor of Jigawa state Sule Lamido; former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose; Former Governor of Kano State, Abubakar Rimi; NBA President, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), Dele Momodu of Ovation Magazine; Chief Gani Adams, Dr. Fredrick Fasheun, Olori Anike Adesanoye, wife of the immediate past Osemawe of Ondo, Edo state governor Adams Oshiomhole, Chief Olu Falae and Afenifere leader, Chief Rueben Fasoranti.
Others include the former VC of FUTAÂ Professor Albert Ilemobade, MOSOP leader, Ledun Mittee, Chief Femi Falana, Dr. Olu Agunloye, Kayode Soyinka, ASUU National President Dr. Alozie Awuzie, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Secretary to Ogun State Government, Adegbemi Onakoya, representatives of the Oba of Benin and human right activists.