Saturday, January 23, 2010


On September 15 2009, the mortal remains of Chief AbdulGaniyu Oyesola Fawehinmi S.A.N, Nigeria’s only Senior Advocate of the Masses, were interred in mother earth, in his home town of Ondo.

Exactly four months later, the spirit of the internationally recognized human rights activist came alive at the Oranmiyan Hall of the Lagos Airport Hotel Ikeja, the traditional venue of the NBA Ikeja branch organized lecture since 2005 in honour of the fiery activist and legal luminary who had succumbed to an early demise at the age of 71 on September 5 2009 courtesy of a devastating and unrelenting lung cancer.

The Ikeja bar ably supported by the Gani Fawehinmi chambers now under the leadership of the scion of the family, Mohammed Fawehinmi was assiduous in planning and advertising the event.
The result of this industry was that as, like of old, the crowd started coming for the event as early as 3.00am in the morning of 15th January 2010, which marked the 45th year of the call to the Nigerian Bar of the late fighter.

By 5.30am, more than two hundred persons had arrived and they were the only ones qualified to receive a set of six books each (costing no less than three million naira in all).

By 10.00am when the programme was scheduled to start, the hall was already filled to capacity, yet more attendees (mostly lawyers, journalists, students, activists, writers, artisans) kept streaming in.
The programme was delayed for over an hour, to allow for the arrival of the chairman of the occasion, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, former Governor of Kaduna State, who however never showed up at all.

Thus it was about 11.20 am, that the programme commenced with the Guest Speaker Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole the Governor of Edo State, being made to double as the Chairman of the occasion.
The Governor came to the occasion with quite a large and powerful delegation of six commissioners including his Chief of Staff and some Special Assistants.

All of them were ushered straight-away to the high table. Other dignitaries at the High Table were-Mrs. Ganiat Fawehinmi, the 1st wife of Chief Fawehinmi, chief Tayo Akpata, the Ima of Benin and the representative of the Oba of Benin, Mr. Lance Elakama, Deputy Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Mr. Kayode Komolafe, the Deputy Managing Director of THISDAY Newspaper, Mr. Saheed Fawehinmi, Gani’s second son, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Director of the International Press Center, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin President of Women Arise, Mr. Adetunji Biobaku, consultant to the Governor of Ogun State on Citizens’ Rights and husband to Basirat, Chief Fawehinmi’s first daughter.

Also on the high table were Mr. Jawondo, chairman of the Ilorin branch of the NBA, Mr. Odumosu chairman of the Ijebu Ode bar, Mr. Anthony Ebeh, chairman of the Ikorodu bar and Mr. Adekunle Ojo, 2nd Vice President NBA and representative of Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu S.A.N, president of the NBA.
The opening prayer was said by Mr. Adebamigbe Omole and Mr. Dave Ajetomobi, the chairman of the Ikeja bar-soon delivered his welcome Address. (click on following link to access)

After him came the representative of the Governor of Lagos, Mr. Baba-Alokolaro.
After Mr. Alokolaro, the guest lecturer took the podium and delivered his near one hour lecture in the blistering and blasting fashion typical of him.
While doing justice to the topic “Nigeria-a nation in search of credible leadership” Oshiomhole took time to lambast and lampoon a well known political opponent of his in Edo State whom he dismissed as the worst type of political leader, a failure and a criminal character.
The central message of his address - constant citizenry vigilance and mass protests against corrupt and deficient leadership strongly indicated the guest lecturer was not a believer in the fawehinmist approach to political engagement.

In his life-time, Gani Fawehinmi made his name fighting his battles against military dictatorship and misgovernment mostly in the hallowed temples of the courst of law. Thus inherent in fawehinmist approach is an enduring belief in the capacity and capability of reforming or even changing the polity through legal/judicial machinery.
This was not the same thing with the Oshiomhole’s perspective. According to the comrade, since the political sovereignty always rests the citizenry, they should by themselves by way of protests dislodge bad and corrupt leadership.
According to the Comrade-Governor, the people cannot afford to throw all the burden of correcting political anomalies on the head of the nation’s judiciary.
Said Oshiomhole: “we cannot treat the case of Nigeria full of political riggers like a case of football where the referee is supreme, even when he declares a ball over the net as a goal and where you have to wait after the match, to do post match review and say that though the referee’s decision is wrong, it is final.”
The Governor urged the Nigerian people to march on Abuja, the nation’s capital and stay there for more than a day and tell the whole world that they were prepared to ensure that rigging of the 2011 Elections would not be tolerated by the people.

At the end of his captivating address, the hall rose to give comrade Oshiomhole deafening applause. Speech at:
The constraints of time (as the Governor was set to depart the hall in less than half hour) did not permit, the obviously well prepared discussants of the lecture, Mr. L.M Elakama and Kayode Komolafe to deal adequately with the subject matter. Each spent just about twelve minutes.
After them, Mr. Dele Awokoya a seasoned barrister took upon the task of reviewing of the Book: USING LAW TO FIGHT INJUSTICE, PROMOTE ACCOUNTABILITY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE- THE GANI FAWEHINMI LANDMARK CASES) authored by Basirat Biobaku and Charles Ochem.
Unfortunately, the Master of Ceremony Adesina Ogunlana gave the reviewer only four minutes and so he had to rush through his prepared address.

In taking charge of the presentation and launching of the book, Governor Oshiomhole started with his Attorney General Mr. Obayuwana who bought five copies for his chambers and ten copies for the Ministry of Justice, Edo State. Mr. Abdul Oroh bought twenty-three copies for the Edo State House of Assembly. Mr. Festus Keyamo bought five copies. The Chief launcher himself Comrade Oshiomhole declined to make public his own donation since as he jocularly put it “our budget is still before the house of Assembly and at least one honourable member of the house is also here.”

After the launching, Governor Oshiomhole, his entourage, Chief Tayo Akpata, Mr and Mrs Femi Falana and a few others on the high table took their leave. But before his departure, the Governor in a very brief ceremony received an award from the Ikeja bar for the courageous and successful defence of his electoral mandate as Governor of Edo State. Later an award jointly won by Justices H. Abiru and J.O.K Oyewle of the Lagos State Judiciary was presented to them through selected representatives, Anthony Ebeh Esq and Leye Omitola respectively.

The departure created opportunity for two comedians MC Ajele (a professional) and Andrew, a lawyer (amateur) to entertain the crowd.
After the comedians’ acts, people came from the floor to make various contributions. While some proposed socio-political recommendations to solve the nation’s problems, other speakers advised spiritual solutions.
After the comments and suggestions, Mr. Mohammed Fawehinmi made a brief response on behalf of the Gani Fawehinmi family. He thanked the organizers and the attendees and urged all to work towards achieving his father’s goal of a better and more progressive Nigeria.

After his short speech, the president of the Law Society of the Faculty of Law, University of Ado-Ekiti, presented to him on behalf of his society a portrait of Chief Gani Fawehinmi.

The curtain was drawn on the first part of the programme with the rendering of a closing prayer by Mr. Abdullateef Abdulsalam, the publicity Secretary of the Ikeja Bar.

The second part of the programme which lasted about ninety minutes, was the giving of gift books to the first two hundred attendees by Mrs. Ganiat Fawehinmi who was on her feet all through.
Once again, the Gani Fawehinmi Annual lecture succeeded brilliantly. Kudos to the Ikeja Bar. Long live Fawehinmiism!

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