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Legendary Nigerian activist dies

By BBC


Prominent Nigerian democracy activist and human rights lawyer Gani Fawehinmi has died of cancer at the age of 71.

He was one of the most outspoken critics of Nigeria's government and defended many political dissidents.

Earlier this year he was voted one of Nigeria's 20 living legends by the Nigerian Vanguard newspaper.

He was also a renowned campaigner on behalf of the poor and stood for president in 2003 after founding the National Conscience Party.

The BBC's Fidelis Mbah in Lagos says the lawyer was often referred to as "the people's president".

He was arrested, beaten, detained many times and charged in court for his human right activities during the long years of military rule from 1966 to 1999.

He was never afraid to speak his mind, our reporter says.

"I am not a middle-of-the road man. What I believe in, I pursue intensely. I put my life on the line," was one of his most memorable quotes, the Vanguard reports.

In 2008, Mr Fawehinmi rejected the highest honour that can be bestowed on a Nigerian citizen - The Order of the Federal Republic.

He said his rejection was a protest at years of misrule since independence in 1960.