This blog post was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

10th December 2010 Chevening, UK

Human Rights Day 2010 – another view from Nigeria

Adeniyi Egbetade writes about CHIEF GANIYU OYESOLA FAWEHINMI (1938-2009).

This eminent Nigerian lived and died for justice for mankind and the rule of law. He never allowed religious or tribal sentiments to taint his fight for human rights. Chief Fawehinmi studied law at Holborn College of Law UK between 1961and 1964.

He fought the scourge of military dictatorship, extra judicial killings, misappropriation of resources and ill-conceived laws with unparalleled determination. He was detained countless times without trials in the most brutal prison conditions amongst which is, the notorious Gashua prisons. In most cases he was never allowed access to proper medical attention even in failing health.

Fawehinmi in spite of being one of the best in legal practice during his life time was denied the Senior Advocate of Nigeria status for more than two decades by successive Nigerian military junta. This however prompted the National Association of Nigerian Students and Civil groups to dub him the “Senior Advocate of the Masses”. The Dele Giwa case and the Ogoni /Niger-Delta activist cases were some of his celebrated cases. His frustrations at human rights conditions in Nigeria prompted him into forming The National Conscience Party. He ran for Nigeria’s presidency on this platform in 2003.

In 2008, he had an honorary degree that was to be conferred on him withdrawn because he was critical of the then but later sacked Governor of Ondo State.

I am not sure of any Nigerian dead or alive whose imprisonment caused physical, professional and social trauma for speaking for the voiceless like GANI. He stood for the masses and the oppressed, he is already being missed dearly by Nigerians. He was a prolific writer, critic and a defender of just cause. Gani as he was fondly called died on September 5, 2009.

1 comment on “Human Rights Day 2010 – another view from Nigeria

  1. That was a succinctly written piece on Gani – one of the winners of Bruno Kriesky’s Prize for Human Rights Service in 1993.
    I doubt if there are still some Nigerian legal advocates out there with the boundless energy of this man. He never compromised his beliefs and stood tenaciously with his principles.
    Although he died with upsets (so to say), his legacy would live on.
    You inspire me bro!

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