He was a lion of a man. And a very ferocious one at that. In a nation of over one hundred million, he had the stunning audacity and spellbinding temerity not just to criticize some of the world’s most brutal military dictators, but he also took the battle right to their doorsteps. He was a one-man army, an irrepressible machine of raw physical and mental strength. Never in the history of Nigeria has any man that incredibly fearless challenged the terrifying authority of the earthly rulers with so much persistence, determination and single-minded focus as this man. The ‘people’s president’ was so courageous that his bravery sometimes defied logic and the limit of human endurance. His name? Gani.
Atimes, when looking at the boldness with which the late Gani carried out some of his struggles, one cannot but wonder where he got such fearlessness from. But it comes out that it was already wired in his genes. His grandfather, the late Chief Lisa ‘Alujanu’ Fawehinmi was a legendary warrior who took part in many successful battles and war campaigns for the Ondo people, and he also confronted the colonial forces of Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries. His nickname was ‘Alujanu’ meaning ‘spirit’ or ‘jinn’. Some kudos to the DNA there. The revered ‘Alujanu’ would later die at the age of 92.
BIRTH AND EARLY DAYS
A high chief among his native Yorubas in southwestern Nigeria, the late Abdul-Ganiyu ‘Gani’ Oyesola Fawehinmi was born on the 22nd of April, 1938 to the prominent Fawehinmi family in Ondo Town, Ondo State. His father, Saheed Tugbobo Fawehinmi, also a titled chief, was the Seriki Musulumi of Ondo (head of Muslims in Ondo) in addition to being a very successful forestry merchant. The young Gani would pick a lot from his father who was also a philanthropist and civil activist who fought against the imposition of heavy taxes upon the poor. History tells us that Chief Fawehinmi Senior was one of those who introduced Islam to Ondo by being a follower of Ajao who cleared the area of traditional African religions. On the 5th of February, 1963, the same year Nigeria became a republic, his father joined his ancestors, he was aged 89.
Schooling for the late Gani Fawehinmi started when he enrolled in 1947 at the Ansar-Ud-Deen Primary School, Iyemaja-Ondo and finished in 1953. From there, he proceeded to a Christian school, the Victory College, Ikare, for his high school education. He was there from 1954 to 1958 when he sat for the West African School Certificate Examination. After high school, the young Gani worked as a clerk at the Lagos High Court and from there, it was time to fly off to the United Kingdom where he enrolled at the Holborn College of Law at the University of London in 1961. While a student there, almost finishing his second year as an undergrad, tragedy struck. He got a message that his benefactor and the sole sponsor of education, his father has passed away. For a child who grew up in considerable comfort and appreciable luxury, life suddenly turned upside down.
Hardship set in and the son of a wealthy African timber merchant had to drop out as a fulltime student and became a toilet cleaner in London and between February 1963 and August 1964, he worked as a sweeper at the Old Gatwick Airport. By the time he returned to Lagos in 1964, he was poorer than a pious rodent. All he had were scanty essentials stuffed into a small suitcase. He said all he was able to buy were “all of low quality and cheaply bought at rock-bottom prices in general sales at Caledonia Road, North London”. That was the quintessential Gani for you. Hin no dey form unnecessary posh like some wey no go let pesin rest on top BB Porsche. Upon landing in Lagos, he enrolled at the Nigerian Law School, No, 213A, Igbosere Road, Lagos.
But while he was in school and even in the face of the biting hardship he was experiencing, his interest in education never waned and not even once did his passion for political, legal and national issues die. He was fondly called ‘Nation’ for his deep-rooted interest and passion in these areas. He was a voracious reader of the most popular Nigerian newspapers at that time: the West African Pilot and the Daily Times.
LOVE, MARRIAGE & FAMILY
The late Gani was married to two wives: Ganiyat Ibukun (nee Orebela) and Abike (nee Ikuomuyilo). He fathered a total of 14 children, eight from the first wife, a native of Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State while the second wife, Abike from Ondo, bore him six children. His children, Mohammed Fawehinmi and Mrs. Basirat Fawehinmi-Biobaku are both lawyers. Gani was also a disciplinarian father.
According to his son, Mohammed: My father used wood, horsewhip, cane and wire to flog any of his children that erred. I tasted them all. There were many instances. When I was in form three at the Federal Government College, Sokoto, I went to the Nigerian Television Authority in the state with some friends to dance. The dance was later shown on television. He was at home watching the television with my mother when he saw me dancing. My father was very angry and took the first flight the following day to Sokoto. He came to the school and when I saw him, he asked what I was doing at NTA. I told him we went there to learn about the music and culture of the people in that part of the country. He asked me if that was what he sent me to do in school. Then he started flogging me with the horsewhip he had brought with him.
-In 1965, he was called to the Bar and it was with his brother, Rasheed that they both started out before he later formed his own law chambers. 1985 would later see the birth of what I consider one of his greatest gifts to the nation, the Nigerian Weekly Law Report, NWLR described by Festus Keyamo as the best law report that the Nigerian legal profession has ever seen. It is mainly a compendium of the judgments of the Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The NWLR liberalized the profession because before then, judgments of the Supreme Court were also available to an exclusive class of lawyers. Gani changed all that.
-In October 1986 when Dele Giwa, one of Nigeria’s finest journalists was gruesomely murdered by a letter bomb, Gani Fawehinmi served as Giwa’s lawyer. He challenged Nigeria’s military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, accused him of being complicit in Giwa’s dastardly act, pursued the case to the Supreme Court of Nigeria where he lost and he was thereafter jailed by IBB. In the action (Suit Number M/87/88, Chief Gani Fawehinmi vs. Akilu & Anor), Gani filed that the Director of Public of Prosecution of Lagos State be compelled to charge to court Colonel Halilu Akilu and Lt. Col. AK Togun (both of IBB’s regime) for conspiracy to murder and the murder of Dele Giwa, Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch. When IBB was asked why he would jail the indefatigable lawyer, IBB responded that since all the previous governments had jailed Gani, he would not be the one to break the tradition. Till date, the case remains unresolved, like tonnes of other mysterious deaths.
Perhaps if Nigeria had 20 Ganis at the same time, we might not have been in this very dramatic mess we are right now. For a man who decided to follow his heart and defy the orders of Nigeria’s kleptomaniac military rulers who demanded absolute obedience, it was no surprise that Gani was mercilessly treated in the hands of the goons and hounds of the juntas. Jail soon became a semi-permanent home for him as he was detained at Kuje Prison, Bauchi Prison, Gashua Prison, Gombe Prison, Ikoyi Prison, Kaduna Prison and many others.
Between the period between 1969 and 1998, he was arrested and locked up by the Nigerian Police at various places like the Kaduna Police Headquarters, Ilorin Police Station, Panti Police Station, Police Headquarters, Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Alagbon, Lagos State, Police State, Wuse, Abuja, Jos Police Station, SSS Cell, Maiduguri, Plateau State, Inter-Centre Detention Outpost, Lagos and Ikoyi Police Headquarters. His international passport was impounded severally (more than 15 times from 1966 and 1998) and his family had to live under a constant shadow of fear. Gani was the soul and conscience of a thoroughly terrorized nation. He was a lone voice in the wilderness.
-Apart from the Dele Giwa’s case mentioned above, there are some other cases that Gani filed against the IBB regime. These include:
-The action to force the IBB government to account for all the proceeds of the crude oil sold during the 1991 Gulf War.
-Suit challenging the use of public funds by the Wife of the Head of State for activities unrecognized by the law.
-Action challenging the illegal 100% devaluation of the currency on the 5th of March, 1992.
-Also, when IBB signed a decree into law even after he had relinquished office and ceased to be the Head of State and the Commander-in-Chief, Gani challenged this in court.
-In 1997 under Abacha’s regime of sheer terror, there was a ceremony in honour of Walter Carrington, the outgoing US Ambassador to Nigeria, and all of a sudden, heavily-armed men charged into the room like crazed Spanish bulls. Their aim was to arrest one of the guests at the event. At that moment, Gani confronted the gunmen, opened up his shirt and shouted ‘Shoot me!’ ‘Shoot me!’ Standing between the gunmen, he told them pointblank that their action was illegal.
His law chambers (his Gani Fawehinmi Chambers at Anthony Village, Lagos was attacked a total of 16 times and there was a particularly brutal invasion under Abacha’s regime when on a Friday, 26th August 1994, security agents came by 4am and turned his chambers into a pool of blood) and house were raided, ransacked and damaged by agents of the military government with the regularity of a sunrise. Fire was set upon his library at Surelere, Lagos while the Federal Military Government saw that the most intelligent thing for them to do was to seize his books. He was brutalized, manhandled and tortured. What else can terrorize the mind of a beastly ruler than the voice of reason? What else can make the clay feet of a dictator tremble if not the piercing demands for justice from a fearless spirit? Like a Kluver-Bucy syndrome patient whose amygdala was damaged, Gani lost all senses of fear for the khaki boys. They could not just bend his stiff back or make him bow at the feet of their megalomaniac leaders.
-When the late Kenule Saro-Wiwa was sentenced to death by a military tribunal set up by Abacha, Gani denounced the judgment denouncing the entire process an ‘inquisition’ and ‘a parody of justice’.
-At another time, he was the lawyer for the National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS), and he was arrested alongside Segun Okeowo, the student union leader and detained.
-When Nuhu Ribadu was unceremoniously and wuruwuru-to-the-answerly removed from office as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and told to go on a one-year course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Plateau State, Gani vigorously challenged.
After years of fighting the tyrannical despots of the Nigerian military who ruled the nation like a fiefdom, Gani and like-minded individuals established the National Conscience Party (NCP) in 1994 even if the late tyrannical Sani Abacha had banned the formation of any political party. Gani defied the Kanuri general and went ahead to form the NCP. In 2003, he ran for the post of the Nigerian president. He lost. I guess Nigerians love him but felt they should vote for someone else.
‘I am proud to be a confrontationist’.
-I passed through dangerous regimes in Nigeria, especially the regime of Ibrahim Babangida. (Gani was detained a total of 32 times, and 17 of those were under IBB who flung him into the much-dreaded Panti Police Station in 1987, that was to be his first incarceration under IBB).
-I narrated everything to him, telling him of my detention experiences. I asked whether that could have caused the lung cancer, through my experiences which had accumulated over the years as a result of the detention or any of the poisons. One of them said it was possible. I am telling you that I passed through dangerous regimes in Nigeria; especially the regime of Ibrahim Babangida. I also passed through the dreaded (Sani) Abacha regime. Those two regimes detained me horribly. The type of treatment meted to my body in those detentions could probably have contributed to this. They could not detect what caused this in England; they only know it is cancer. They also know that it was not caused by smoking. I couldn’t give answer to what could have caused this. This could be accumulation of the various evil misdeeds of the various governments. If the evil misdeeds of these military governments have caused it, well, leave everything to God to judge.
INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT THE LATE GANI FAWEHINMI
-Although many of us know and remember Gani as a fire-spitting human rights lawyer, he was a lot more than a law attorney. He was a social critic, philanthropist, politician, owner of a publishing house and author.
-While on his death bed, the Federal Government under the late President Umaru Musa Yaradua honoured him with the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) but he rejected it. That was the very first time the Nigerian government would consider him worthy of a national honour.
-In 1988, he was given the title ‘Senior Advocate of the Masses by the students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife, Osun State in recognition of his tireless efforts, and even if he was refused the Senior Advocate of Nigeria title, the highest legal title in the land.’
-A very highly-opinionated man, Gani faced a lot troubles with the Nigerian Bar Association, where he had many professional rivals, many of whom described him as a slave of his own conscience.
-He finished with a Third Class (or a pass, according to Keyamo) but you will agree with me that the impact he has on the Nigerian legal landscape and nation in general, a battalion of first-class holders from the law school are yet to have.
-With over 300,000 law books, his law chambers was the largest in Nigeria and I think that record still stands.
-Gani was so passionate about education and justice that if you are rusticated from a university or when someone in authority is oppressing you because of his or her position, he would take up your case free of charge.
-He made good friends with fellow radicals like the late music legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and his fiery brother, the late Beko Ransome-Kuti.
-Gani was also a philanthropist and by virtue of his generosity, countless poor law students were able to complete their education and become lawyers after benefitting from his scholarship awards which he started in 1973.
-The late Gani wrote several books, some of which are: ‘June 12 Crisis: The Illegality of Shonekan’s government’, and ‘Petrol Price Increases in Nigeria: The Truth You Must Know ’, ‘Courts’ System In Nigeria: A Guide, Bench and Bar in Nigeria and ‘Nigerian Law of Habeas Corpus’.
-He was a great lover of ewedu, eran igbe (bush meat), iyan (pounded yam) and vegetable soup. Now, my mouth is watering..lol!
-Although he was a tough man, he also had his softer sides. According to his son, Mohammed, in an interview with Punch: It was when I had an accident. He was completely distressed. I never saw him cry like that. He continued crying until we got to England for treatment. On arrival in England, we drove straight in an ambulance to the General Hospital, Coventry. The hospital had about nine Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan and nine Computerised Tomography scan. Everything was in multiples there. We did the CT and MRI scans. Many of my siblings were there. After the scan, the doctor said I would be operated upon. That was when my father burst into tears. He was sobbing like a baby and my mother had to console him. The operation lasted for about four hours and it was successful because blood did not go into my brain.
WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT HIM
His reputation went beyond him. Gani did not care where you came from, and he liked to give opportunities to everybody. He wouldn’t come and say, oh, you are from Ondo or I want to take South South people, and He didn’t also like this issue of connections, that you needed to come and serve or work in his chambers, before you have to bring a note from one of the justices of the Supreme Court. He liked to work with everyone. For example, I am one of the examples, I came from nowhere, no name, no godfather, no godmother. I got into Lagos with a pair of trousers and maybe one pair of shoes and walked into his chambers….yes, I just walked into his chambers with a request, and was subjected to a test, and then that is it. So, he is that kind of a detribalized person. He wanted the best and the best was your work, and atimes he wouldn’t even request for the best 2.1 or the best First Class because himself was even a Third Class or a pass or so from the law school because of his own problems but he rose to become one of the best lawyers in Nigeria. So he never believed also in this, ehn, certificate kind of thing, especially to him, hardwork meant more to him than the degree, the kind of work you were willing to put into your practice. The first thing he told me and some of my colleagues the first day we stepped into his office was ‘Look, gentlemen, there is no shortcut to the top in this profession.’ I remember that sentence very well and it stuck in my head till tomorrow. Some people called him a slave driver but it was to our benefit. Of course you had the choice to go to your father’s house and sit down and go and drink your mother’s milk if you don’t want to work. He never forced anyone to work…..His shoes are too big for anyone to step in.
-FESTUS KEYAMO, Nigerian lawyer.
-If there is one man I respect, it is Gani. It sounds strange. I appreciate you that you have a strong conviction and fight for it consistently. This is the context in which I see Gani. I was a consistent evil and he was a dogged fighter and I respect him for this. In fact, there are three of them I respect like that: the late Professor Awojobi, Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman and Gani. None of them says anything without doing his homework first.
-GENERAL IBRAHIM BADAMASI BABANGIDA,
Nigeria’s dictator and military president, 1985-1993.
We have been praying for him since we heard he was sick. Every Friday, after jumat service, we would gather here because we know that baba will give us food and money. We will miss the food he gives us every evening after fasting. Baba treats us like his children and sometimes, attends to us himself. It is very painful that Baba is gone.
-Mohammed Yisa, beggar.
Gani had the fear of God in him and the interest of Nigerians at heart. He is one out of a million in Nigeria that hates corruption. It would be hard to replace him. Gani went to prison many times because of the masses. Yet, he was not a criminal. He is irreplaceable. I don’t think this generation can replace him.
– Raph Okafor, clearing agent.
CONTROVERSY AND CRITICISM
-In my dear nation where critics abound, Gani did not also escape the caustic tongue of his many foes. Some felt his style was too extreme, too confrontational and too unconventional.
-Then when he supported the presidential aspirations of General Muhammadu Buhari in 2003 and 2007, whom he once criticized heavily as military head of state (READ ALL ABOUT MUHAMMADU BUHARI, Nigeria’s Strictest Leader HERE, many also criticized him for that. He responded by saying that the fight against corruption was paramount and more important than personal opinions.
HONOURS AND AWARDS
-11th June, 1993: He was awarded the biennial Bruno Kreisky Prize For Services To Human Rights in honour of his struggles to advance causes of human rights (see pictures) below.
-1998: He received the International Bar Association’s Bernard Simmons Awards. This was in recognition of his activities on human rights and democracy.
-September, 2001: After an embarrassingly long delay, Gani Fawehinmi was finally honoured with the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). The SAN is the highest legal title in the land.
-He was also the Seriki Adinni of Ondo, a title of leadership in his Muslim community.
-The Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Arcade in Akure, Ondo State was also named for him.
-The Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) changed the name of its conference hall to Gani Fawehinmi Memorial Hall to honour this legend.
-The Gani Fawehinmi Park in Ojota, Ikorodu Road, Lagos State was named in his honour. There is a garden, statue, a gallery and library.
-In April 2010, Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State named the Gani Fawehinmi Diagnostic Center in his honour, and it was part of the 72nd post-humous birthday celebration organized for him. The centre is located along Laje Road in his hometown.
-A meticulous record-keeper, Gani kept a detailed will in place before his death. In it, he stated that he must not be buried with funds from the government. Read below:
I, Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi, otherwise known as Gani Fawehinmi, Legal Practitioner of 35, Adeniran Ajao Road, Ajao Estate, Anthony Village, Lagos State (Nigeria), hereby make this Will dated 19th day of December 2008.
- I revoke all earlier Wills and other testamentary dispositions made by me
- (A) I appoint First Trustees Nigeria Limited a subsidiary company of First Bank of Nigeria Plc, of 42/43 A.G. Leventis Building, Marina (2nd Floor) Lagos, as my Executor and Trustee.
(B) In this Will, the expression ‘Trustee’ or this ‘Will’ and of any trust arising under it.
(C) If for whatever reason my first choice of Trustee declines the appointment or otherwise refuses or neglects to act as such then I appoint Union Trustees Limited, a subsidiary company of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, of 160/162, Broad Street, PZ Building (1st Floor), Lagos, as my Executor and Trustee of this will and in the event of failure or refusal of the Company to act as such, I appoint UBA Trustee Limited, a subsidiary company of United Bank for Africa Plc, of UBA House, 57, Marina (2nd Floor) Lagos.
(D) It is my desire that my Executor and Trustee of this Will should at any time be a Corporation or an Institution.
(E) My Trustee shall be remunerated in accordance with their published scale of fees current at my death as varied from time to time during the administration of any trust arising under this Will. The remuneration should however be reasonable and competitive with charges for similar service rendered by them to other parties.
(F) The Trust created under this Will shall be administered by my Trustee in accordance with the provisions of this Will.
- (A) I direct my Executor and Trustee to ensure that I am buried (after all Muslim funeral rites have been performed and opportunity has been given to as many people as possible to view my corpse lying-in-state) in my house at Oka Road Ondo. My tomb should be located next to my mother’s tomb in the compound.
(B) I deserve a decent burial. A special account has been opened at First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Moloney Branch in which reasonable fund is being kept to meet my funeral expenses.
(C) Upon my death, any three of the following persons but including Mojeed Ajao, that is: i. Mohammed Fawehinmi ii. Basirat Biobaku iii. Rabiat Fawehinmi and iv. Mojeed Ajao are to jointly draw money from the account to meet my funeral expenses.
(D) A special instruction has been given to the Bank for this purpose.
(4) (A) My children by my wife (Mrs. Ganiat Bukun Fawehinmi) are:
a. Mr. Mohammed Fawehinmi
b. Mr. Saheed Fawehinmi
c. Miss Basirat Fawehinmi (now Mrs. Biobaku)
d. Miss Hafusat Fawehinmi (now Dr. (Mrs.) Oni)
e. Miss Kudirat Fawehinmi
g. Miss Simbiat Fawehinmi (now Mrs. Osho)
h. Mr. Mubarak Fawehinmi
(B) My children by Miss Abike Ikuomuyilo (Mrs. Abike Fawehinmi) are:
a. Miss. Rabiat Fawehinmi
b. Miss Aminat Fawehinmi
c. Miss Rukayat Fawehinmi
d. Master Yusuf Fawehinmi
e. Master Kamal Fawehinmi
f. Master Taju Fawehinmi
(C) My child by Miss Bushiral Alabi is Miss Aishat Fawehinmi
- (A) I devise and bequeath my houses and landed property at Plot 9, Block S GRA, Ikeja otherwise known as Plot 9A & 9B, Ademola Close, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos (hereinafter referred to as Plot 9A & 9B Ademola Close GRA, Ikeja, Lagos (comprising six houses and a gate house) to: (a) Mrs. Ganiat Bukun Fawehinmi (b) Mr. Mohammed Fawehinmi (c) Mr. Saheed Fawehinmi (d) Miss Basirat Fawehinmi (now Mrs. Biobaku) (e) Miss Hafusat Fawehinmi (now Dr. (Mrs.) Oni) (f) Miss Kudirat Fawehinmi (g) Miss Idiat Fawehinmi (h) Miss Simbiat Fawehinmi (now Mrs. Osho) (i) Mr. Mubarak Fawehinmi.
(B) The houses and the landed property must not be sold in the life time of their mother and Mohammed Fawehinmi.
(C) In view of his disability, Mr. Mohammed Fawehinmi, my eldest child and son, can choose where he may wish to live in any of the houses or any part of the houses in the premises except the small bungalow at the back of the premises which I built for my late mother.
(D) The decision of Mohammed Fawehinmi on clause 5 (c) above cannot be overridden or changed by anyone.
(E) Subject to clause 5 (c) above, if any part of the houses is to be let or leased out, all the children by my first wife and their mother must agree to that effect.
(F) Subject to clause 5 (c) above, if all or any of the Houses and Landed property is to be sold all the surviving children by my first wife must agree to that effect.
(G) The small bungalow at the back of the premises which I built for my late mother in her life time should be reserved for the use of my sisters whenever they or any one of them visit Lagos. The keys to the bungalow should therefore be given to Mrs. Rufukatu Fashipe on behalf of any my sisters.
(H) My sisters to whom Clause 5 (g) above applies are:
1. Mutiatu Akinlami
2. Rufukatu Fashipe
3. Ibiola Fagbemi
4. Mayiwola Oluyemi. They cannot sell or let the bungalow. They are only given right of use when they visit the building or the premises.
(I) Upon the death of all my sisters listed in clause
- (h) above, the bungalow shall revert to the children of my first wife.
- I devise and bequeath my following houses and landed property at:
(A) 28, Sabiu Ajose Crescent, Surulere, Lagos:
(B) A storey building with old boys’ quarters registered on 15/03/94 as No.43, at page 43 in volume 590 of the Land Registry at Akure, and
(C) Plot 138, Block XI in Ondo State Housing Corporation Estate, Ijapo, Akure (three bungalows) to: a. Miss Abike Fawehinmi, b. Miss Rabiat Fawehinmi, c. Miss Aminat Fawehinmi, d. Miss Rukayat Fawehinmi, e. Master Yusuf Fawehinmi, f. Master Kamal Fawehinmi, g. Master Taju Fawehinmi.
(D) The house at 28, Sabiu Ajose Crescent, Surulere, Lagos must NOT be sold in the life time of their mother.
(E) Subject to clause 6 (d) above, if the house is to be sold after death of their mother, all the children of my second wife must agree to that effect.
(F) However, subject to Clause 6 (g) below, the houses at Akure can be sold or leased during the life time of my second wife. The proceeds of the sale or lease as the case maybe, may be partly used to improve and repair 28, Sabiu Ajose Crescent, Surulere, Lagos and partly divided equally amongst all the children and their mother and wisely invested by them for their welfare.
(G) Rabiat Fawehinmi, the eldest child by my second wife shall be entitled to 20% of all the proceeds of the Sale or Lease of the houses at Akure. It is the balance of 80% of such proceeds that could be partly used to effect any improvement or repair of, Sabiu Ajose Crescent, Surulere, Lagos and partly divided equally amongst all the six children of my second wife and their mother. Rabiat Fawehinmi is also to benefit from such equal sharing. She must not be excluded simply because she is entitled to 20% of the proceeds of the sale or lease in the first place. This is special right I have given to her.
(7) I devise and bequeath my land at Agbara Estate of the Ogun State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC) to my daughter, Dr. (Mrs.) Hafusat Oni practising medicine in the United States of America (USA).
(8) I devise and bequeath my six plots of land at Fagun Estate in Ondo as follows: a. Two plots to Mrs. Rufukatu Fashipe, b. Two plots to Mr. Saheed Fawehinmi, c. One plot to Mr. Kazeem Kuteyi, the grandson of my late sister Ninilola Akinwande, d. One plot to Miss Aishat Fawehinmi.
(9) I devise and bequeath my plots of land at Ojojo in Ondo as follows: a. Two plots to Mrs. Ibiola Fagbemi, b. Two plots to Mrs. Mayi Oluyemi, c. One plot to Mr. R. N. Ogundipo, d. One plot to the children to my late sister Alhaja Ninilola Akinwande.
GANI FAWEHINMI TRUST ACCOUNT
(10) I direct my Trustee to open an account to be known as “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account” in a reputable Bank into which all monies accruing to my estate should be paid.
(11) My large landed property at Ugbo Ijebu Off Okopa Road, Ondo, measuring 7.801 Hectares shall be sold at a very good price by my Trustee and the proceeds shall be paid into ‘Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account.
(12) My house at Oka Road, Ondo shall be used as family house and all my wives, children, grand children, great grand children and great great grand children, my sisters and their children shall have access to the house. The house shall be maintained from time to time by my Executor and Trustee.
(13) In view of the condition of my first son, Barrister Mohammed Fawehinmi, my Executor and Trustee shall assist in maintaining the houses at Plot 9A & 9B, Ademola Close, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos particularly the gardens, lighting, the meter system, the generators and security. The said maintenance shall be borne by the Executor and Trustee from the “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account. The maintenance of the property as aforesaid shall only continue during the lifetime of my first wife Mrs. Bukun Fawehinmi and my disabled son Mohammed Fawehinmi.
(14) My Executor and Trustee shall also assist in the maintenance of 28, Sabiu Ajose Crescent, Surulere, Lagos.
The cost of such maintenance shall be borne through “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account”, if and when the Executor and Trustee considers such maintenance necessary and appropriate having regard to the provisions of Clause 6 (f) hereof.
(15) (a) My Executor and Trustee is to partition my house at Gani Fawehinmi Street, Ondo into flats for letting or leasing and to manage or cause to be managed the said property and the proceeds from the letting or leasing are to be paid into the “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account”.
(b) The cost of maintaining, repairing and partitioning the property into flats is to be borne from the “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account”.
(16) My Trustee is to sell my flat at 26 Maybourne Grange, Turnpike Link, East Croydon, CRO 5NH, England and pay the sterling (pounds) proceeds into the Sterling or Pound currency account opened for that purpose in my “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account” and to form part of “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account”.
(17) I direct my Trustee to ensure that all my Books and my entire library are taken from my chambers, the Gani Fawehinmi Chambers at 35 Adeniran Ajao Road, Ajao Estate, Anthony Village, Lagos to the new library and gallery in the Nigeria Law Publication House, CBD, Alausa, Ikeja as soon as the building is completed and ready for occupation. This direction shall be carried out within 7 days of my death if the books have not already been transferred in my lifetime.
- My chambers, the Gani Fawehinmi Chambers at 35, Adeniran Ajao Road Ajao Estate Anthony Village, Lagos shall be wound up literally within two years after my death.
- I direct my Trustee to effect all necessary repairs to my building at Adeniran Ajao Road, Ajao Estate Anthony Village, Lagos when it is vacant and after the repairs, the building should be let and the proceeds of the lease should be paid into “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account”
(b) My Trustees, may in their discretion, convert the building into flats if that would make the property more commercially lettable.
- I give the possession and the remainder of my lease at 90 Lewis Street, Lagos to my Trustee to hold in trust for my estate. My Trustee should allow the Nigeria Law Publications Ltd. to continue their tenancy at the premises for so long as they may wish subject to payment of rent. My Trustee shall pay the proceeds thereof into the “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account.”
21. Nigeria Law Publications Limited and Books Industries (Nigeria) Limited
(a) I founded the Nigeria Law Publications Limited in 1976 to promote the development of law in Nigeria.
(b) I virtually own the company although I have given shares to my children and other persons who have consequently become shareholders of the company but in the minority.
(c ) I am most anxious that this company should not die after my death but should survive for the advancement of law and its development through various legal publications by the company particularly the Nigerian Weekly Law Reports.
(d) The most important duty of my Trustee is to ensure that this company does not die but continues to promote the development of Nigerian Law.
(e) I give to my Trustee all my shares in the Nigerian Law Publications Limited to hold in trust and to be administered subject to the provisions of this Will.
- I direct my Trustee to exercise the powers appertaining to my shares in the Nigerian Law Publications Limited which I could have exercised myself in accordance with the following directions:
(a) To ensure that the post of Managing Director of the Company is filled by a very competent and experienced person of good business ability and acumen, Mr. Mojeed Ajao the current Managing Director of the company shall be at liberty to continue in office until he attains the age of 60 years.
(b) To ensure that the Editor-in-Chief, Deputy Editor-in-Chief and the General Editor of the Nigerian Weekly Law Reports are very competent lawyers of not less than 10 years Post-Call experience.
(c ) To appoint to the Board of Directors of the Company at least one reputable professor of law and one Senior Advocate of Nigeria at any given point in time who shall serve as non-executive directors for such term as may be prescribed by the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Company.
(d) To put in place and maintain in the company an accounting system that would ensure transparency, accountability and prudent management of the funds of the company.
(e ) To ensure periodic audit of the account of the company.
(f) To ensure that my majority shareholding in the company is not diluted.
(g) To do all other things as are reasonably necessary of the publications of the company particularly the Nigerian Weekly Law Reports which is very dear to my heart.
- I give my Trustee my shares in Books Industries (Nigeria) Limited to hold in trust and to be administered subject to the provisions of this Will.
- I direct my Trustee to exercise the powers appertaining to my shares in the Books Industries (Nig.) Limited which I could have exercised myself in accordance with the following directions:
(a) To ensure that the post of Managing Director of the company is filled by a very competent and skilled person who can profitably manage a printing company with business skill and acumen.
(b) To appoint to the Board of Directors of the company at least one woman of considerable experience in company management.
(c ) To put in place and maintain the company an accounting system that would ensure transparency, accountability and prudent management of the funds of the company.
(d) To ensure periodic audit of the accounts of the company.
(e ) To ensure that my majority shareholding in the company is not diluted
(f) To ensure that the company gives priority to the printing of the Nigerian Weekly Law Reports and other books being published by the Nigerian Law Publications Limited.
- I direct my Trustee to pay all dividends and income accruing to me by reason of my shareholding in the Nigerian Law Publications Limited and Books Industries (Nigeria) Limited into the “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account.”
- (a) I direct my Trustee to allow the Books Industries Nigeria Limited to continue to use the front building of my landed property at plot 9/11, Akinola Sholanke Street, Mafoluku, Oshodi, Lagos on payment of adequate rent which should be paid into Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account.”
(b) As for the rear building, I direct my Trustee to allow the Books Industries Nigeria Limited to use the Ground Floor for its expansion on payment of rent to be paid into “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account.”
(c ) Miss Bushirat Alabi the mother of my child, Miss Aishat Fawehinmi, shall vacate the flat she occupies on the first floor within two years after she has been given the sum of N1,000,000 by my Trustee to start a new life of trading or business of her choice in accordance with clause 28 (6) herein.
(d) a room in the flat she occupies at the moment contains some of my important belongings and the second flat on the same first floor contains my important belongings. The room and the flat should be kept under lock and key until the panel which will work on equipping the gallery and library at the Nigerian Law Publications house at CBD, Alausa, Ikeja set to work to examine the materials they consider useful for the Gallery and Library.
(e) I direct my Trustee the two flats in the top second floor to the Books Industries (Nigeria) Limited and the rents accruing from the lease should be paid into my account (“Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account”).
- I direct my trustee to manage my stocks and shares in other companies in trust for my estate and to pay all dividends accruing therefrom into “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account.”
- The “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account” is to be managed, invested, administered and operated in the most prudent, most profitable and most cost-effective manner including using part of it for:
(1.) The education, maintenance and upkeep of all my children (all fifteen of them) who are still in school until they obtain their first degree. The appropriate amount in each case to be determined by my Trustee must be reasonable. Except for those already studying in educational institutions abroad, all my other children are to be educated in educational institutions available in Nigeria.
(2) Maintenance and upkeep of my Library and Gallery (in addition to the internally generated revenue by the library and gallery) at the Nigerian Law Publications house at CBD, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.
(3) Maintenance of the following houses namely: (i) Family House at Oka Road, Ondo (ii) The other two houses are: (a) Plot 9A & 9B, Ademola Close, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos State during the life time of my disabled son Barrister Mohammed Fawehinmi and his mother. (b) 28, Sabiu Ajose Street, Surulere, Lagos State until everyone of my children by my second wife obtains his or her first degree.
- Special maintenance of my disabled son, Barrister Mohammed Fawehinmi.
5. Maintenance of Mrs. Bukun Fawehinmi and Mrs. Abike Fawehinmi. The former shall be given N60,000 a month while the latter shall be given N50,000 a month. Those amounts may be reviewed by my trustees from time to time having regard to the cost of living in Nigeria and funds available in the “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account.”
6. A once for all assistance should be given to the mother of my child (Miss Aishat Fawehinmi) by name Mrs. Bushirat Alabi for her to start a new life by probably going into trading or any other business and remarry. The sum not exceeding N1,000,000 should be given to her. Once she is given that money, she must vacate the flat she occupies within two years of my death or if she is found pregnant by another man, whichever is earlier.
- Maintenance of my sister Mrs. Mutiatu Akinlami who had a stroke in 2003. She should be given a monthly feeding allowance of N25,000. Her physiotherapist’s bill not exceeding N30,000 per month should also be paid.
8 The building and maintenance of my grave at Oka Road, Ondo.
- The maintenance of my mother’s and father’s grave at Ondo the former in front of my house at Oka, Ondo and the latter in the premises of Ansar-ud-deen, Ondo.
- The following persons shall be given the following monthly allowances as long as they live.
a. Mrs. Rufukatu Fashipe (N40,000)
b. Alhaja Humuan Fawehinmi N10,000)
c. Mr. Jibayo Awosika N10,000)
d. Mrs. Eunice Ladiran Awosika N10,000)
e. Alhaja Fali Aladejana N10,000)
f. Princess Lompe Ayoola N10,000)
g. Mrs. Taiye Jinadu (N10,000)
h. Mrs. Laduti Akinwande N10,000
i. Mrs. Debo Omoloja N10,000
j. Mrs. Sola Akinyemi N15,000)
k. Mr. Tuyi Akinwande N15,000)
- A one-off gift of N500,000 should be given to Mrs. Adefolayan Falade living in Jos, for the advance of her personal educational institution.
- The education of Master Kazeem Kuteyi the great grandson of my late mother up to university level and the Nigerian Law School.
- The education of Mr. Chidozie Augustine Nwaneri up to the first degree level.
- The training up to first degree level of Miss Tope Orebola.
- Training up to first degree of Miss Folake Akinyemi.
- I hereby direct my Trustee to award 10 yearly scholarships tenable for one year to 10 indigent but brilliant students from poor homes attending Nigerian universities. The awards titled “Gani Fawehinmi Yearly University Award” must be preceded by advertisement in at least one widely circulating newspaper in Nigeria. Each successful students should be given N100,000 for only one year. The amount may be reviewed depending on the prevailing economic condition and the strength of the Nigerian currency.
- (a) I direct my Trustee to give N1000,000 yearly to the NBA, Ikeja Branch to organise and host the yearly lecture/symposium of FAWEHINMISM which was established by the branch in 2005.
(b) I hereby direct my Trustee to give the sum of N50,000 every month to assist the Oke-Otunba Central Mosque Ondo.
- (a) At the end of every quarter of the year, my Trustee must cause to be organised by my immediate family the feeding of disabled, poor and/or blind beggars that can be gathered around GRA, Ikeja in line with my tradition for more than 30 years.
(b) I direct my Trustee to also cause to organise by my immediate family the feeding of disabled, poor and/or blind beggars that can be gathered around my family house in Oka in Ondo Town during important Muslim Festivities and to commemorate the remembrance of my father, my mother and myself on our birthdays.
- I hereby direct my Trustee to set up a small committee of experts to work with Mr. Mojeed Ajao the managing Director of the Nigerian Law Publications Limited, Mr. Ugwuzor Adindu of Gani Fawehinmi Chambers and Library, Barrister Mohammed Fawehinmi my first son, Barrister Rabiat Fawehinmi, Mrs. Bukun Fawehinmi, Mrs. Abike Fawehinmi, Mr. R. N. Ogundipe and Mr. Adeniji, former Librarian of the University of Lagos.
(a) To ensure the evacuation of my books from Gani Fawehinmi Chambers at Anthony Village to my new library and gallery called Gani Fawehinmi Library and Gallery at the Nigerian Law Publications House at CBD, Alausa, Ikeja.
(b) To ensure that the new library is fully established in the said CBD, Alausa, Ikeja to occupy three floors including the basement, the ground floor and the first floor.
(c) To order appropriate furniture which the Nigerian Law Publications Limited shall pay for.
(d) To gather my books, intellectual materials, newspapers, including glazed and bound newspaper booklets and other written materials wherever they are kept in various places, in Lagos State, Ondo State or in my flat in London and take them to the new Library and Gallery.
(e) The Gallery must depict my life, my struggles including my detentions, trials, imprisonment, etc. To this extent, all the glazed materials kept in boxes in GRA, Ikeja, NLP Warehouse Ikeja, Mafoluku, etc. are to be displayed in the Gallery and Library.
(f) To display also in the Gallery my detention bags, my detention and prison rough steel drinking cups, my prison uniforms (prisoner J60), my detention dresses, my detention notes and pictures and several pairs of glasses.
(g) To display conspicuously my lawyer’s robes and particularly my Senior Advocate of Nigeria robes in the gallery.
(h) To display my full robes of the LLD award of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
(i) My Trustees should run the Library and Gallery as a commercial enterprise to generate funds so that it can be self-sustaining.
(j) I direct my Trustee to ensure that at least 10 copies of every new book published by the Nigerian Law Publications Ltd. are donated to the Library.
(k). I direct my Trustee to ensure that the Library is updated with books to be purchased from the income generated by the Library from time to time. A reasonable part of the fund in the “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account” may also be used to maintain the Library and Gallery if need be.
(l) I direct my Trustee to pay into Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account any dividends accruing to my estate from the Gani Fawehinmi Library and Gallery Ltd.
(m) I direct my Trustee to ensure that the post of Managing Director of the company is filled by a competent and experienced person with requisite qualification in Library science.
(n) All the books of all types, titles, etc. and bound newspapers and magazines of all types in my chambers (Gani Fawehinmi Chambers) belong to me and they are to be taken to the Gani Fawehinmi Library and Gallery.
- Both my Trustee and the Nigerian Law Publications Limited must ensure that my children (fifteen of them) and my two wives do not suffer. They should be taken special care of. My first son, Barrister Mohammed Fawehinmi, who is disabled by serious motor accident by providing him with:
(a) A nurse (if necessary)
(b) A cook
(c) An assistant
(d) A suitable financial allowance monthly.
(e) A driver
(f) Constant medical attention particularly in Nigeria
(g) If and when the motor car bequeathed to him become unserviceable then a new motor car of his choice should be purchased for him.
- I further direct my Trustee to provide him with a new car whenever the one being used by him becomes unserviceable.
- The cost of such car of his choice must however in the opinion of my Trustee be reasonable having regard to the obligations of the Trustee and the balance in the “Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account.”
- All my wearing apparels and shoes (except few which are to be displayed in my Gallery) are to be divided amongst all my male children.
- I give to my first son, Barrister Mohammed Fawehinmi the following vehicles.
(1) Toyota Landcruiser with Registration Number AZ 919 AKD
(2) Toyota Previa with registration number 822 KRD
- I give to Miss Rabiat Fawehinmi my Toyota Crown with registration number AH 945 NND (she must not forget to use it on the day of her marriage).
- I give to Mrs. Basirat Biobaku my Pajero Mitsubishi Jeep with registration number AJ 20 NND.
- I direct my Trustee that any amount which is accruing to my personal account in any bank in Nigeria and outside Nigeria in England shall be paid into or transferred to Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account in naira currency and if the amount is in sterling, then in the sterling account of the Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account.
Annual Payments To My Children
41. Subject to and after the satisfaction of all bequeath and other obligations contained in this Will, payment of all fees, rates and other charges payable whether under this Will or any Law:
(a) I direct my Trustee to pay my children in equal amount at the end of each year or so soon thereafter as may be practicable a sum not exceeding 25% of the balance of the annual income accruing in the Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account.
(b) 1. I direct my Trustee to set aside 5% of the said balance of the annual income accruing to the Gani Fawehinmi Trust Account for the purpose of a loan scheme under which any of my children may be granted such loan as my Trustee may in their discretion determine.
ii. The loan which may be interest free and uncollaterised shall be repayable with such period as my Trustee may determine.
iii. If the loan falls due but is unpaid by the borrower/child, then my Trustee may deduct such part of the loan as may remain unpaid from the amount payable to such child under clause.
- a. above
c. The balance of 70% shall be profitably invested by my Trustee.
- I give to my Trustee my residuary estate to hold in trust to be administered in accordance with the provision of this Will.
- I direct my Trustee to set up a small committee of eminent persons who are well familiar with my life and time at least one of whom should be a lawyer to prepare or cause to be prepared a very detailed and well researched biography of me to chronicle my professional life, human rights activities, my socio-political-economic struggles, my criminal trials, my detentions and other relevant aspects of my life. The biography which should be published by the Nigerian Law Publications Limited and Printed by Books Industries Nigeria Ltd. or any other suitable printer may be in one or more volumes.
- a. I plead with all my children and wives not to resort to any form of court litigation over my Will. They should resolve amicably any dispute or controversy with themselves, the Nigerian Law Publications Limited and my other companies and my Trustee. If at all any dispute or disagreement arises under or in connection with this Will and all efforts to amicably resolve it fails then the parties concerned shall refer the matter to Arbitration. Each party shall, however, bear his or her own cost of the Arbitration.
b. I have had enough of painful struggles and controversies in my life time, I should be allowed to rest in peace.
c. If any child or wife breaches this passionate plea, he or she will reap my displeasure and wrath.
- Generally, any of my children or wives can have access to my grave site to pray and or seek spiritual assistance.
In witness whereof, I Chief Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi have hereunto set my hand this 19th Day of December, 2008.
Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi
Signed by the said Testator, in the presence of us present at the same time, who at his request and in his presence and in the presence of each other, have subscribed our names as witnesses:
- Mr. Michael O. B. Johnson,
Gani Fawehinmi Chambers,
35, Adeniran Ajao Road, Ajao Estate, Anthony Village, Lagos, Nigeria.
•Adebayo Segun Isaac,
Senior Gate Clerk at Chief Gani Fawehinmi’s House,
Plot 9A & 9B,
GRA, Ikeja, Lagos.
Gani died without seeing the Nigeria of his dreams come true and I just wonder what his reaction would have been were he alive today to see the nonsense we have successfully and collectively made of the most populous black nation on earth. Gani Fawehinmi died at 09.25 GMT at the age of 71 on the 5th September, 2009 after a sustained battle with lung cancer even if he never smoked in his life.
Before his death, he released a last statement to Nigerians. It read thus:
At the weekend, notably on Friday, December 12, 2008 it was published in most of the newspapers in Nigeria that the Federal Government of Nigeria has honoured me with the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR).
I have had time after the publication to think deeply whether to accept or reject the honour.
I thank the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar‘ Adua. I thank the Federal Government of Nigeria and I am very grateful to the Council of State which approved the honour of OFR given to me by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I wish to express my gratitude to numerous Nigerians who by telephone calls, mobile text messages and some by personal visits congratulated me on the award of OFR.
This is the first government in Nigeria to honour me with the national award. Obviously this government must have considered my activities in the last 43 years before deciding to give the national award of OFR. From my own standpoint and perception, my struggles and crusades include: (1) The abolition of poverty from the face of our country; (2) The unqualified need to preserve, defend and protect the fundamental human rights; (3) The governance of our country through democratic processes; (4) The subjection of everybody and everything to and under the Rule of Law; (5) The right of the people to free and qualitative education at all Levels; (6) The right of the people to free and qualitative health services and facilities; (7) The strengthening of our economy through sound development of infrastructure including power generation (electricity), good roads, good and modern rail-system across the length and breadth of Nigeria, good water way transportation system; The overall duties of all Nigerians and governments (local, states and federal) to make Nigeria a corruption-free country by fighting corruption with all our might and main.
In the course of my struggles over the decades for the above ideals, I have been subjected by various governments to all traumatic travails and persecutions including: (a) Series of detentions in several prisons across Nigeria, notably Ikoyi Prison (three times), Kaduna Prison, Gombe Prison, Gasua Prison, Kuje Prison (two times), Bauchi Prison, etc, etc; (b) Twenty three police detentions between 1969 and 1998 at Police Headquarters, Kaduna, Jos Police Station, Ilorin Police Station, Police Headquarters. Lagos, C.I.D., Alagbon, Lagos,‘ Inter-Centre Detention Outpost, Lagos, Ikoyi Police Station, Panti Police Station, Lagos, Police Station, Wuse, Abuja, Police Station, Ikeja, Police Headquarters, Abuja, etc.; (c) ‘Arrested 32 times between 1969 and 1998 which led to the series of detentions and trials; (d) My chambers (Gani Fawehinmi Chambers) at Anthony Village, Lagos was, attacked- by security men under, various governments 16 times, culminating in the attack on Friday, August 26, 1994 when security men under Gen. Sani Abacha regime at 4am turned my Chambers into a pool of blood; (e) Thousands of copies of my books, notably on the murder of Dele Giwa, were forcibly removed and seized by security agents under Gen. Ibrahim Babangida regime and despite court orders to return my books, the military government at that time refused to obey the court orders; (f) My international passport was seized more than 15 times between 1966 and 1998; (g) I was charged to court 18 times for politically-motivated criminal offences including treason and I was jailed once and became prisoner J60 before my imprisonment was terminated by the Court of Appeal.
Today, I am 70 years and eight months old and I am struck down by lung cancer for which I have been receiving medical treatment outside my country because my country – Nigeria – has one of the poorest medical services in the world but one of the richest countries in the world in terms of oil revenue.
My decision to either accept or reject the national honour of the award of OFR will depend on how far the Nigerian nation through Nigerian governments tried to achieve any of the aforementioned eight goals.
Corruption is one single, fundamental factor that has retarded the progress of the nation and its social-economic development.
It is generally agreed, nationally and internationally, that Mallam Nuhu Ribadu did a lot to retard the inhibitive progress of corruption. 419 crimes were on the decline. Gross misuse of public funds by public officers was on the downward trend. Looting at the top became minimised. As Nigerians were breathing a sigh of relief, the government of AIhaji Umaru Yar‘ Adua threw Mallam Nuhu Ribadu out of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The removal of Nuhu Ribadu as EFCC Chairman happened at a time Nigerians were saying ‘the fear of EFCC is the beginning of wisdom’ as far as corruption was concerned.
I went to court to challenge Ribadu‘s illegal removal from the EFCC. I thought Yar‘Adua‘s government would allow the court to do its work. But alas, Ribadu was sent to National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, for a one-year course. While undergoing the one-year course in Kuru, on August 5, 2008, the Federal Government of Nigeria presided over by President Yar‘ Adua demoted Ribadu from the rank of Assistant Inspector-General of Police to Deputy Commissioner of Police.
Mallam Ribadu rightly approached a court of law by instituting an action to challenge the obnoxious demotion. Whilst the suit was pending, security agents physically removed him from the ceremony on November 22, 2008 where he was to be awarded his certificate for success at the NIPSS, Kuru.
Today, the architect of the unprecedented anti-corruption war, unprecedented in the annals of Nigeria since 1914, is now literally roaming the streets of Nigeria without official car, without official status, without any form of security, and yet he is still being subjected to hounding, haunting and all forms of dehumanising vilification by the Federal Government.
His only ‘offence’ is that he used the instrumentality of a public institution, the EFCC to investigate, arrest, charge, and in some cases, to convict through the law courts some public officers in various corridors of power throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria people who were otherwise called the untouchables.
By the performance of his duties, Nigeria and Nigerians gained in integrity, honour and recovery of their looted wealth. But Ribadu did not make any personal gain. He only waged a war against corruption, graft, stealing, money laundering, etc, etc, in the corridors of power. In return, the regime of President Yar‘ Adua decided to wage unrelenting war against anti-graft war.”
Instead of the Federal Government to publicly acknowledge the unprecedented good Ribadu has done to the psyche of Nigerians by awarding him the greatest national honour, the government has decided to continuously persecute this young man. It was therefore the greatest embarrassment for me, when at the weekend, it was announced that I was one of those 275 Nigerians honoured with national honours and in my case the OFR.
Yes, I have done my best for this country in various fields and I still want to continue to do my best. But we live in a situation where the 1999 Constitution provides in Section 15(5) that: ”The State shall abolish all corrupt practices‘ and abuse of power” and a young man emerged to do what the Constitution enjoins and he is being persecuted for carrying out the provisions of the Constitution. Yet, the President swore to observe, preserve and defend the same Constitution. I find it extremely difficult to accept that President Yar‘ Adua‘s government has the honour to dispense honour.
In the light of the above, I cannot accept the ‘honour’ of OFR. Whether now or in the life beyond. How can I wake up in the morning and look at the insignia of honour bestowed on me under a government that persecutes anti-corruption effort, particularly those of Nuhu Ribadu?
At the time the Nigerian Bar Association wrote the letter to my office that my name would be forwarded for national honour while I was in London receiving medical treatment for lung cancer, the government of President Yar‘ Adua had not begun in earnest the war against anti-corruption war and the harrowing persecution of Nuhu Ribadu had not reached its crescendo. I do not blame the NBA for sending my name at the time it did for national honour,
However, events from August 2008 to this day are so bizarre, unbelievably barbaric in their intensity, in terms of persecuting those fighting against corruption and the singling out of Ribadu for persecution, all for giving honour and dignity to this country and for recovering for our treasury, billions of naira and other forms of wealth looted by public officers.
A government that covertly and overtly encourages corruption has no honour in its arsenal of power to dispense honour. Consequently, I reject the dishonour of OFR termed ‘honour‘ given to me by the Federal Government. ‘
The Plight of the masses of our people
Nobody can dispute the fact that since this regime came to power the plight of the masses has worsened as I have shown in items 1 – 7 above. But I wish to reiterate that in all the ramifications of human existence, the masses have found themselves in the doldrum of pain occasioned by gross misgovernance of the country.
Furthermore, since the President came to power on May 29, 2007, the masses of our country have been groaning in unprecedented poverty as a result of lack of direction, The directionlessness of the Federal Government has been characterised by the following, amongst others: collapsed infrastructure, total paralysis of the health sector at all levels, constant nationwide power failure and the attendant negative effects on all sectors of the economy; pervasive unemployment, thereby generating increased armed robbery cutting across all ages of our people; debilitating homelessness, retrogressive educational programmes and policies, which have made no Nigerian university to be ranked within the first 500 universities in the world, and no effort is being made by the regime to improve on the humiliating situation.
Put simply, the Federal Government is a total failure, worsened by lack of direction and leadership. Is this the atmosphere for the award of national honours? Certainly Not!
In addition to my rejection of the honour of the OFR on the grounds of Federal Government‘s conscious war against anti-corruption war, the decadent socio- economic situation does not engender the well being of ordinary people and there is no hope in sight.
In view of the foregoing, I reject the award of OFR.
The burial of Gani Fawehinmi was done on the 15th of September, 2009 in his native Oka Area, Ondo Town, Ondo State beside his late mother. However, Gani remained a radical even in death as his burial sparked sharp controversies. Why? He was buried in a gleaming gold casket after a lying-in-state ceremony at his Number 9A, Ademola Close, Ikeja GRA residence against the rulings or practices of his Islamic faith in which ostentatious burials or coffins are discouraged. However, Gani was said to have stated that he be buried in that particular coffin, made arrangements towards it even before his death and despite the protests and criticism from some religious leaders, his family went ahead with the burial insisting that his wishes must be honoured.
LEGACY AND REMEMBRANCE
With an uncommon vigour and a boundless energy, Gani fought for the entrenchment of the rule of law, fundamental human rights, social justice and democracy. Not even once did he change his unflinching stance as the unrepentant defender of the Nigerian masses against oppressive rulers who were more of a scourge and pestilence than leaders. Gani, Nigeria’s Senior Advocate of the Masses, remains one of the most fondly remembered and celebrated figures in Nigeria, even in death. He came and gave his all to a country that is yet to find its feet in the comity of nations. May the labours of this indefatigable hero never be in vain. Rest on, SAM, gallant soldier and the people’s general.