There was a mild drama on Monday in Lagos during the 14th Gani Fawehinmi Annual Lecture when protesters booed Mr. Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) who was scheduled to speak.
The annual lecture has as its theme, “Federalism, Restructuring and Good Governance: Striking a Balance”.
The protesters made up of youths, shouted “ole, ole, ole Mike Ozekhome’’ and physically tried to restrain and bar the SAN from entering the venue.
They alleged that the SAN was defending corrupt individuals in court and as a result, shielded them from justice.
“His presence here is an insult to the memory of Chief Gani Fawehinmi,’’ they alleged.
The keynote address of Prof. Demola Popoola had to be stopped for 15 minutes because of the skirmish.
It had to take the intervention of Mr. Adeshina Ogunlana, the Chairman of Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) and Mr. Mohammed Fawehinmi to douse tension.
Mohammed, the first son of the late Fawehinmi, told the protesting youths that violence which would have been disproved by his father was not the right approach to address issues.
Meanwhile, Ozekhome, in his contributory address said “Gani was against oppression, repression and tyranny in whatever form.
“That is why in 1983, the NBA said that lawyers should not defend alleged corrupt politicians under the then General Muhammadu Buhari to fight corruption, Gani said no, these people are entitled to their rights.
“By Section 36 of the Constitution, every person’s innocence is presumed; I was with Gani when we were defending the so called corrupt politicians.
“I am just coming now from the court, where the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) wanted to freeze the account of a citizen via exparte.
“I just stopped them again for the 20th time, I will continue to fight the government which looks the other way when corruption is recorded in their system.
“I have told Mr. Magu three times to prosecute at least one person in their government so that we can show that corruption is being fought,’’ he said.
Ozekhome who was a senior counsel in the law chambers of Fawehinmi noted that during his time with Fawehinmi, he helped found the Nigerian Weekly Law Reports (NWLR) and the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO).
“The Shiites that were mowed down during their protests, the massacre in Southern Kaduna, Enugu State and so many other incidents are as a result of lack of true federalism and restructuring,’’ he said.
Responding to the chants of “lies, lies, lies’’ during his speech, the SAN told the protesters “you cannot intimidate me, you are all hired’.’
Speaking, Falana (SAN) said, “Go and find out from your history books, Gani never defended anyone being tried by the EFCC or the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission (ICPC), I need to correct that misconception.”
Ozekhome is a counsel for former First Lady Mrs. Patience Jonathan, Dr Bukola Saraki, the Senate President and Mr. Ayodele Fayose, the Governor of Ekiti. (NAN)