President Muhammadu Buhari has paid tribute to Nigeria’s foremost social critic and selfless legal luminary, Chief Abdul Ganiyu ‘‘Gani’’ Fawehinmi, SAN, on his posthumous 80th birthday, describing the late legal icon ‘‘as a true conscience of the nation, defender of democracy and people’s rights advocate’’. In a statement signed by Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, the President said as the world posthumously marks the 80th birthday of Chief Fawehinmi (22 April 1938 – 5 September 2009), that he (Buhari) fondly remembers the legendary patriot for his altruistic services to the nation, which continue to be sorely missed.
‘‘The late Senior Advocate of the Masses was not an arm chair-critic, nor a rabble rouser who fomented trouble for its sake; but a serious minded, articulate, cerebral and compassionate promoter of fundamental human rights, social justice, equity, fair play and national development. “Gani was an extraordinary human being and a great reference for all progressive elements in society. He dared death and incarceration and was forced into prison 40 times without bowing to intimidation and molestation. ‘‘He fought for and stood by democracy with every ounce of his blood and immense intellect. He deserves a lingering respect,” the President said in his tribute.
Although the fearless legal author and celebrated philanthropist passed on nine years ago, President Buhari admonishes Nigerians, young and old, to imbibe the good deeds of the Ondo State born, detribalised, learned man and Muslim leader (the Seriki Musulimi of Ondo town), “for his doggedness, incorruptibility and fervent belief in the unity and progress of Nigeria as an entity.” The President notes that Chief Fawehinmi who would have been 80 years old on 22 April 2018, will never be forgotten as a committed pace setter and pathfinder for the democracy that we practise today.
The President therefore urges contemporary civil rights activists and human rights advocates in the country to emulate the late icon, through constructive criticism and useful suggestions as partners in the pursuit of national peace, unity and development.