Thoughts Lead To Appreciation
Abdul-Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi was a man whose life depicted his purpose – to stand with the vulnerable.
A nationalist, Gani saw ample common grounds with compatriots.
Citizens were first and foremost Nigerians in need of help.
From his own experiences of financial struggles as a student after losing his father, Gani was determined to assist other indigent students.
In 1976, he commenced an annual scholarship scheme for Nigerian students in any part of nation.
Every Nigerian should have access to education notwithstanding financial difficulties.
A lawyer, Gani distinguished himself by focussing on the introduction of appropriate legal frameworks to make the justice system more people friendly.
Gani was staunchly non-conformist.
With the publication of his legal journal, Nigerian Weekly Law Reports, Gani made judicial rulings accessible to every lawyer thereby overturning the status quo of the legal elite who misappropriated and limited knowledge of such rulings.
Knowledge is not a privilege but a right.
The right to win legal cases fell into the hands of the average lawyer among whom the journal was a favourite.
Gani was renowned for taking cases no one will touch, for few Nigerians can afford the services of lawyers.
To the citizens, Gani announced that whoever needs a lawyer should contact him; he defended the poor free of charge.
Every Nigerian has the right to legal representation whether the case is civil or criminal.
A lawyer, Gani felt strongly against the violations of the law by Nigerian government and official operatives.
With each judicial ruling against the federal government, Gani was arrested.
For voicing concerns on the path the military regimes dragged the nation, Gani received death threats.
Two of his clients, Dele Giwa and Ken Saro-Wiwa both defenders of justice were assassinated, the former via a letter bomb in 1986 and the latter after a mock trial in 1995.
Alarmed that the trial of Ken was a travesty, Gani withdrew from the case.
In the course of his career as the people’s advocate, Gani was arrested and imprisoned as many as 40 times and often assaulted by law enforcement officials.
With each arrest, Gani’s resolve for social justice amplified.
To obstruct Gani’s reach to Nigerians, he was often internally exiled from one locality to another.
Gani’s principle in the defence of justice persevered.
His law chambers were ransacked and library razed.
That was not a deterrent.
When bureaucrats in the law profession refused to designate him a Senior Advocate of Nigeria ~SAN the highest legal authority, Nigerians titled him the Senior Advocate of the Masses ~SAM.
Although he was eventually elevated to a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, it was as the people’s champion that he identified himself.
Gani was the advocate of the poor and oppressed.
On September 5, 2009, at the age of 71, Gani departed. He had suffered from lung cancer.
May Allah defend Gani in His Court on the Day of Judgment. Aameen.