Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN was described by many as a one-man army; fearless, dogged, disciplined but very compassionate. Perhaps, many more words would aptly describe the persona of the late legal practitioner and human rights activist, who, with every dint of passion and tenacity, fought for the rights of the masses.
Even though he was a wealthy lawyer, he preferred to fight for the poor and the less privileged in the society, such that he was named the Senior Advocate of the Masses and he also received the Bruno Kreisky Prize for Services to Human Rights in June, 1993, among other awards he received in recognition of his struggles to promote human rights.
Arguably, the late legal icon was hounded and persecuted like no other since Nigeria gained its independence, for criticizing military dictators. And he was so tormented that prison almost became his second home, as he was regularly being arrested and detained. Beyond the attack on his person, his books were confiscated while his library was set ablaze, coupled with several raids on his house and chamber.
He was detained 32 times, 17 of which were under the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida-led government; six times under Gen. Yakubu Gowon; six times under the late Gen. Sani Abacha and three times under the regime of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo.
He was a regular guest at Ikoyi prison, Kuje Prison, Kaduna Prison, Gashua Prison, Lagos State Criminal Investigation Department, Alagbon, Panti Police Station, State Security Service (now DSS) Cell, among other detention facilities.
Chief Gani Fawehinmi was born on Friday 22nd day of April 1938 at his family home in Okedasa Street, Ondo Town. His father, late Chief Saheed Tugbobo Fawehinmi, a successful Timber Magnate, Philanthropist, Seriki Musulumi of Ondo and one of the famous Son of Late High Lisa Alujannu Fawehinmi of Ondo Kingdom. Gani’s mother, Alhaja Muniratu Fawehinmi-Iya Olori Egbe Adini of Ondo Central Mosque, daughter of late Chief Yesufu & Madam Rabiatu Akinnibosun.
He attended Ansar-ud-deen Primary School, Yemoja in Ondo from 1947-1953, Victory College, Ikare from 1954-1958 and University of London from 1961-1964 as an External Student for Law Course and Graduated in 1964.
Chief Gani Fawehinmi returned to Nigeria in 1964 and started working in the Law Office of Hon. Justice Rasheed Fawehinmi. He was call to the Nigeria Bar on 15th of January 1965 and established his own Law Practice in Lagos same year. Gani Fawehinmi became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 2001.
Until his death, he was the Seriki Musulumi of Ondo Kingdom, married and blessed with many wives and Children.
He died on 5th September, 2009, two years after battling lungs cancer, which according to him, stemmed from his incarceration in the prison.
It was like the exit of a people’s adorable ‘king’. Even though he died at age 71, many people described his death as untimely and one the country may never recover from.
Gani is a Legend!
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