Remembering the late Gani Fawehinmi

IN the face of unrivaled excesses and brutalities of deranged military dictators and civilian oppressors, Gani Fawehinmi remained constant, consistent, and courageous in his criticisms of a ruling class run amok. With all righteousness and religiosity, he fought the creators of wicked schemes to total surrender. Gani was a potent combination of character and strategy.

Knowing the fragility and brevity of life, Gani worked round the clock believing in Jackie Robinson’s philosophy that “a life is not important except in the impact it has on others.” Gani made an impact on us the way atomic bomb does: He imploded before he exploded! Gani used the law as a natural weapon of mass defence (WMD) to right wrongs, to bring immediate joy and relief to the aggrieved, to rekindle stale dreams of the hopeless and the voiceless, and most importantly, as messages of good cheer to all oppressed peoples in the world.

His mind was never at rest, and his pen was connected to his mind by the best conductive narrative magnet I’ve ever seen. Gani seemed to be saying “some men see things as they are and ask “why?” but he “dreams things that never were and ask “why not?” With his persistent unyielding prosecutorial skill, our fledging democracy has been made stronger and stringent.

Gani’s wildness and subtlety of thinking and the intensity of his interest in others and his sympathy for the dilemma of the oppressed make him public defender extraordinary. He was both a practitioner and defender of the law. He practiced law the way a surgeon operates: because it is a livelihood, because he had a great urge to do it, because many interesting challenges were set up, and because he believed they may do some good.

As a gutsy fighter, Gani believed and appropriately I might add, that the law is a shield as well as a sword. He developed a reputation for ruthlessness with enemies of the poor and fierce defence of both constitutional rights and civil liberties. Thoughtful and tough, passionate and strategic, outgoing and introspective, Gani was always worried and troubled about the defenceless, the forgotten, the unemployed, the downtrodden, the excluded, and the marginalised. He was always willing to wade in where and whenever justice is on trial.

If Gani erred, he did so on the side of generosity. He was a giver, not a taker.

Gani, to paraphrase the Middle Eastern saying, when you were born, you cried, we rejoiced. You lived your life in way that when you left us, we cried, and you rejoiced. Continue to rest in peace, the defender of the masses.


  • Bayo Oluwasanmi,

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