Classics, News

Gani’s life and times: 8 years after colossus’ death (10)

Chief Abdul-Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi, the Lomole and Seriki Musulumi of Ondo Kingdom, was born on April 22, 1938, into the family of Chief Saheed Tugbodo Fawehinmi. His father was a successful timber merchant. He also singularly brought Islam to Ondo State. His mother, Alhaja Munirat Fawehinmi, was the ninth, out of his father’s 24 wives. Before she died in 2003, she was the Iya Olori Egbe Adinni of Ondo Central Mosque.

Gani, as he was fondly called, attended Ansar-ud-Deen Primary School, Iyemaja, Ondo, from 1947-1953. He was also at Victory College, Ikare, Ondo State (1954-1958). In January 1959, he relocated to Lagos to stay with his uncle, Mr. Olu Akinfe, at No. 39, Abule Nla Road, Ebute Metta, Lagos Mainland. It was at this time that he got his first job as a clerk in the Lagos High Court. Gani worked for two years and left for the United Kingdom (UK) by sea (on the popular MV Aureol passenger ship) to study Law at Holborn College of Law. Unfortunately, his father who was training him in the university died in his second year. And he had to start all over as a part-time student while working as a toilet cleaner at Russell Square Hotel, Southampton, to pay his tuition. Gani also worked as a sweeper at Old Gatwick Airport between 1963-1964. Practically teaching himself, he successfully graduated and returned to Nigeria in 1964. He was called to the Nigerian Bar the following year.

Gani, who started Law practice in his elder brother’s (Rasheed Fawehinmi) chambers, here in Lagos, would grow to become one of the most successful and vibrant lawyers of his generation. Running the largest Law firm and library in this clime, his exploits and triumphs in human rights activism and contribution to the growth of the legal profession through his law publications and research stood him out as an icon in the legal profession.

Shockingly, successive governments kept frustrating his SANship until 2006 when his late mother prevailed on him to accept the title, after Nigerian students had crowned him as SANS, Senior Advocate of Nigerian Students.

He died on Saturday, September 5, 2009, at the age of 71, after a brave battle with cancer of the lungs. His week-long obsequies was concluded with his internment, on Tuesday, September 15, 2009.



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