Jonathan, Soyinka, Falana Eulogise Braithwaite


SAN FRANCISCO, March 30, (THEWILL) – Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan has joined other prominent Nigerians, including Nobel laurate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), to eulogise the late Presidential aspirant, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, who died on Monday.

Jonathan in a condolence letter to the deceased's family described the late lawyer Braithwaite as a strong democracy advocate, who contributed to national development adding that the late activist was one of the few courageous statesmen in the opposition during the military era.

“I extend my deepest sympathy at the passage to eternal glory, of an elder statesman, whose tremendous contributions helped to shape the progress of our nation,” Jonathan wrote.

“Dr. Braithwaite will continue to live in the memories of many Nigerians as a strong advocate of a truly democratic Nigeria and one of the few who had the courage to stand in the opposition during the military regime.

“I recall our encounters during which, as a strong believer in the unity of Nigeria, he clamoured for a national dialogue, seeing it as an avenue through which lasting unification of the country could be achieved. He never stopped advocating policies that would improve the quality of lives of Nigerians.

“His family will be comforted by the fact that his legacies as a lawyer, author and a pro-democracy activist and contributions to national development and humanity will continue to endure.

“I pray that God Almighty grants his soul eternal repose and imbue his family and the nation the strength of spirit to bear his absence.”

Soyinka, who led eminent Nigerians on a condolence visit to the Lagos home of the late Braithwaite to commiserate with the family, disagreed with those who called Braithwaite an elder statesman.

“The word elder statesman means he was retired but I will refer to him as a counter statesman, who always put government on its toes,” he said adding that Braithwaite was always on the side of the people.

Falana (SAN), in a statement, also described Braithwaite as a committed advocate of the rule of law and positive influence on lawyers who stand for integrity.

“He operated on a higher moral pedestal as a lawyer, as he never engaged in sharp practices,” he said as he noted that Braithwaite practised law for over 50 years.

“Dr. Braithwaite was a consistent fighter for justice and fair play. As a man of strong principles, he never compromised throughout his life. He was a solid legal scholar and a committed advocate for the rule of law.

“He was critical of the reactionary legal establishment. Whenever he found the court room too narrow for the struggle for social justice, Dr. Braithwaite never hesitated to participate in street protests.

“When the house of the late Fela Anikulapo-kuti was destroyed by official arsonists in military uniform in 1977, Dr. Braithwaite sued the Federal Military Government.

“He fought the legal battle from the Lagos High Court to the Supreme Court. Although the case was lost by the Kuti family, it was won by the Nigerian people.

“The apex court seized the opportunity of the case to pronounce the anachronistic doctrine of rex potest non peccare (the king can do no wrong) illegal and unconstitutional. Since then, the courts have always condemned military invasion of communities and awarded damages to the victims.”

Dr. Braithwaite died on Easter Monday after collapsing a week earlier in his gym.

Story by David Oputah