Gani Fawehinmi: We must not let him die. By Emmanuel Bassey


The death in the early hours of Saturday, Sept. 5 2009 of Gani Fawehinmi, one of Nigeria's most outstanding legal luminaries and human and civil rights activist was received with shock, trepidation and despair by the National Association of Seadogs (NAS). The reason for this is not far-fetched: the country has lost one of its most courageous, fearless, tireless, and most committed defenders of the common man, peoples' rights, justice and truth.

Coming on the heels of the continued subversion of the rule of law by the ruling class; increasing levels of poverty; rising insecurity; flagrant display of ostentatious and ill-gotten wealth by a very small minority; increased social dissention and malaise; massive upsurge in violent crimes and agitations across the polity, and of course, the systemic collapse of core infrastructure across the nation; the death of Fawehinmi is a cause for genuine concern as his was one of the most prominent voices in the vanguard for the struggle against the oppression of the common man, and the violation of the rule of law by those in position of authority.

Gani Fawehinmi possessed a colourful personality; he was a vibrant crusader against injustice and oppression of fellow Nigerians by the privileged and ruling class. He fought for all, irrespective of one's tribe, religion, social status or affiliation. He was steadfast, committed and unrepentant in his campaigns against corruption; he pursued legal fights against official high handedness; he waged an unrelenting struggle for the enthronement of equity, justice and the rule of law, and the commitment to the actualization of democratic principles in the polity. He stood neck to neck against virtually every military regime - campaigning against their illegality. In the course of this, he sacrificed his comfort, safety and health.

His contribution to the development and growth of the legal profession in the country with his law reports amidst these struggles cannot be overemphasized. Ironically, he was denied the honour of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria repeatedly until recently. The sanctity of the Nigerian constitution was his belief and he left no stone unturned in the course of his fights against any attempt by anyone to circumvent it.

By putting up these fights tirelessly and without bias, Gani demonstrated those rare qualities that are lacking in the Nigerian polity. As a result of this, NAS International hereby recognizes Gani Fawehinmi as a true detribalized Nigerian who strove to ensure the enthronement of an egalitarian society for all – a belief NAS is firmly rooted in. He was therefore for NAS, a like mind and a kindred spirit.

It is also in this vein that we call on Nigerians not to relent in the quest for a better society, grounded in the rule of law. Gani may be gone but his struggles live on. Through his campaigns, those saddled with the responsibility of upholding the law became cautious; corrupt politicians were getting more conscious of the fact that they are being watched. He has run his race; the baton is now left for the rest of us. It is now left for not only those who believed in his cause to take up the gauntlet, but also those in places of authority to work towards the actualization of those beliefs for the benefit of all. This is a wake up call to all: WE MUST NOT LET HIM DIE!

NAS wishes to use this medium to condole the wife, children and entire family of the Late Chief Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi, over the death of their patriarch. May he never die in vain.

Emmanuel Bassey

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