Friday, 18 April 2008

Thank You Chief Gani Fawheninmi leading Nigerian Human Rights Lawyer

Thanks a great deal, I am a benefactor of Gani Fawehinmi and his generosity of spirit. When myself and 9 other students’ were charged before the Jos Zone of General Babangidas so called Miscellaneous Offences Military Tribunal. Gani it was without solicitation that took up the case with Barrister Kelvin Okoroafor. To fight on our side, not minding the days I spent in Jos Prison the idea of having Gani on our side gave us the reassurance that the state will not succeed in getting the life sentence they so desired.
I have lost count of the number of unwarranted expulsion by University authorities Gani overturned using the instrumentality of law, at least counting mine, three times I was expelled by the university of Jos on the foundation of student activism and three times Gani fought in court. We can’t say thank you enough to Chief Gani Fawhinmi and other lawyers he later inspired, Falana, Keyamo, Agbara and others.
Aturu what we can all do is continue in the spirit of unbending loyalty to the Nigerian people, that is one thing Gani is all about not minding his faults though and that is the only thank You He would forever appreciate.

N.B All efforts by those of us in London to assist Gani in one way or the other at his Corydon Residence has been politely turned down by the icon himself. That speaks volume of a true man of the people. If only others will take a cue from him. He was not doing good to the people for the sake of “investing” in followers like some in the political circle practice.

Kayode Ogundamisi


Chief Abdul-Ganiyu "Gani" Oyesola Fawehinmi (b. 22 April 1938) is a Nigerian author, publisher, philanthropist, social critic, human and civil rights lawyer and Politician.
His supporters have called him "the scourge of irresponsible governments, a thermometer with which the blood pressure of dictators is gauged, the veritable conscience of the nation and the champion of the interests and causes of the masses".
Fawehinmi, popularly called Gani, was born on 22 April 1938, into the Fawehinmi family of Ondo, in Ondo State.
His father, Chief Saheed Tugbobo Fawehinmi, the Seriki Musulumi of Ondo was a successful timber magnate, a great philanthropist, an opponent of excessive taxation of the poor and a deeply religious muslim leader. He was reported to have brought Islam to Ondo Town. Chief Saheed Tugbobo Fawehinmi died on 5 February 1963 at the age of 89 years. He was a polygamist.
Gani's grand father was the Late Chief Lisa Alujanu Fawehinmi of Ondo, who engaged in several successful battles for and on behalf of the Ondo people in the nineteenth century. Hence, the appellation the 'Alujanun', which means spirit. He died at the age of 92.
Gani's mother, Alhaja Muniratu Fawehinmi, nee Akinnibosun, is also a devoted muslim. She is the Iya Olori Egbe Adini of Ondo Central Mosque. Gani is her first child and the only son of her six children. She was aged 89 years at her death. Her father was Chief Yesufu Akinnibosun and her mother was Madam Rabiatu Akinnibosun, who died at the age of 96 years.
Gani had his early education at Ansar-Ud-Deen Primary School, Iyemaja - Ondo from 1947 to 1953 and his secondary school education at Victory College Ikare, a Christian School from 1954 to 1958, under the leadership of the Late Rev. Akinrele where he sat for and passed his West African School Certificate Examination in 1958.
On 8 December 1958, he was given a letter to his late father by the principal of the college, Rev. Akinrele. In it, the principal advised that Gani must be encouraged to study Law as a profession.
While in college, he was popularly known as "Nation" because of his passionate interest in national, legal and political affairs. He was an avid reader of Daily Times and West African Pilot, the most popular newspapers at that time.
In January 1959, he headed for Lagos to stay with his uncle, the late Mr. Olu Akinfe.He got his first job as a Clerk in the High Court, Lagos.
On 29 April 1961, he left the shores of Nigeria by sea on the M. V. Aureol Passenger Ship for the United Kingdom. He arrived in Liverpool on 12 May 1961. He travelled by train to London, arriving at Victoria Station in the evening of that day.
On arrival in England, Gani received the result of his General Certificate of Education (G.C.E) Advanced Level which he took shortly before he left Nigeria. He passed very well. He then enrolled in the Holborn College of Law for the LLB degree of the University of London (External) in September 1961. He was in part II of the three year degree programme when his father died on 5 February 1963 and the source of his finance dried up. All efforts to secure financial help failed. He was forced by financial circumstance to drop out of the Holborn College as a full time student. He took a full time job as a Toilet Cleaner in Russell Square Hotel in Southampton Row, London. He did other cleaning jobs which included working as a sweeper in the old Gatwick Airport between February 1963 and August 1964.
He literally taught himself Law for parts II and III of the LLB degree course and sat for and passed all his examinations. He came back to Nigeria in early September 1964 carrying a small suitcase containing: 2 pairs of trousers, 3 shirts, 1 pair of shoe (apart from the one he was putting on), 2 pants, 2 singlets, 2 pairs of socks and 2 black suits, all of low quality which he bought at rock bottom prices in general sale at Caledonia Road, North London.
On his arrival in Lagos, he enrolled in the Nigerian Law School at No. 213A, Igbosere Road, Lagos for the compulsory three months course which he successfully completed.
Chief Gani was called to the Nigerian Bar on the 15th of January, 1965.
In 1993 Fawehinmi was awarded the biennial Bruno Kreisky Prize. This prize, named in honour of Bruno Kreisky, is awarded to international figures who advance human rights causes. In 1998, he received the International Bar Association's Bernard Simmons Award in recognition of his human-rights and pro-democracy work. In 1994 he and some other notable Nigerians formed the National Conscience Party of Nigeria which exists till today and he stood for a presidential election in 2003 under the umbrella of the National Conscience Party.
Gani Fawehinmi became a holder of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) the highest legal title in Nigeria in September, 2001.
Gani is not everything to everybody. You either like him passionately or you hate him intensely. This is because of his boundless and sometimes suicidal energy with which he tenaciously and uncompromisingly pursues and crusades his beliefs, principles and ideals for the untrammelled rule of law, undiluted democracy, all embracing and expansive social justice, protection of fundamental human rights and respect for the hopes and aspirations of the masses who are victims of misgovernance of the affairs of the Nation.
As a result of his activities along these lines, he was arrested, detained, charged to court several times. His international passport was seized on many occasions. His residence and Chambers were crudely searched several times. He was beaten up many times and was deported from one part of the country to another to prevent him from being listened to by the masses. Some of his books which the Federal Military Government did not like were confiscated and one of his houses at Surulere where the books were kept was about to be set ablaze when the would be perpetrators were caught and apprehended by neighbours. Even his Chambers at Anthony Village, Lagos State, was violently attacked and invaded by persons suspected to be government security men on 26 August 1994 and they shot at the Chambers guard, seriously wounding two of them.
Consequent upon his crusades for the rule of law, the hopes and aspirations of the poor and the oppressed, he fought many battles against the military dictatorship as a result of which he had been arrested several times by the military governments and its numerous security agents. He had been dumped in many police cells and detained in several prisons between 1969 and 1996.
It is believed by many that Gani had been long overdue for the Senior Advocate of Nigeria award, but the jealousy of many powerful Nigerians in the Legal profession and outside stood against him. Many of Nigerias masses call him the people's president