Fallen Legal Heroes – Chief Remilekun Adetokunbo Fani-Kayode

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Fani Kayode

Chief Remilekun Adetokunboh Fani-Kayode (Fani-Power), Q.C., S.A.N, C.O.N (1921-1995)

Chief Remilekun Adetokunboh Fani-Kayode, Q.C., S.A.N, C.O.N (1921-1995) was a leading Nigerian nationalist, elder-statesman, lawyer and politician.

He hails from a prominent and well educated Yoruba family who are from Ile Ife in South-Western Nigeria. His grandfather, Rev. Emmanuel Adedapo Kayode was an Anglican Priest who had got his Master of Arts (Durham) degree from Fourah Bay College which at that time was part of Durham University and his father, Victor Adedapo Kayode studied law at Cambridge University and went on to become a prominent lawyer and then a judge in Nigeria. His mother was Mrs. Aurora Kayode (nee Fanimokun) was the daughter of the respected Rev. Joseph Fanimokun who had also been an Anglican priest, and had also got his Master of Arts (Durham) degree from Fourah Bay College and later became the Principal of the famous CMS Grammer School in Lagos from 1896 to 1914. After finishing at the famous Kings College in Lagos, Remilekun Kayode was so close to his mother that he attached the prefix of her maiden name (Fani) to his father’s name and that was how the name “Fani-Kayode” was created.  Remilekun Fani- Kayode went to Cambridge University (Downing College) in 1941, after which he did the British Bar examinations where he came top in his year for the whole of the British Commonwealth. He was called to The British Bar at Middle Temple in 1945 and he went on to be appointed Queens Counsel (Q.C.) in 1960 (he was the third and youngest Nigerian ever to be made Q.C) and later Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1977 (he was the third Nigerian to be made a SAN. He set up the first indigenous Nigerian law firm in 1948 with Chief Frederick Rotimi Williams and Chief Bode Thomas who were also both lawyers who had been trained at Cambridge and London University respectively.  The law firm was called “Thomas, Williams and Kayode”.  In 1970 he established another law firm called “Fani-Kayode and Sowemimo” with his old friend and partner Chief Sobo Sowemimo, S.A.N.

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As a politician, In July 1958 he successfully moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence in the Federal House of Assembly. He argued that independence should take place on 2 April 1960. In 1959 there was a further motion that was moved in the Nigerian Parliament asking for a slight amendment to the Fani-Kayode motion of July 1958. This new motion, which was moved by Sir Tafawa Balewa, asked that the 2 April 1960 date for independence which had already been accepted and approved by Parliament and which had been acquiesced to by the British colonial authorities, should be shifted from 2 April of the same year to 1 October instead. This motion of amendment was passed and approved by Parliament and it was acquiesced to by the British and that is how the date for Nigeria’s independence, 1 October 1960, was finally arrived at. He was also elected Deputy Premier of the Western region of Nigeria in 1963 and he played a major role in Nigeria’s legal history and politics from the late 1940’s right up until 1995 when he died.

‘Nike…

Adenike Adesanya is a Brilliant young wig who is passionate about preserving the legacy of the legal profession. Nike wishes to bring back to our memories our heroes past. Email to Nike: nikey06@yahoo.com

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