Gani Fawehinmi was the best legal mind of his time. But he was not even the best in his University days; truthfully, he had ordinary pass in his Law Degree, not even a Third Class Degree. He could be classified as “Let My People Go” in those days.
After Gani left the University and passed out of Law School, there was nothing ordinary again in his life. He became the best in everything he touched.
He wrote lots of legal books and journals in Nigeria. He visited courts more than those who made First Class in the same school with him and those who became SAN before him.
Gani’s presence in any court was a big news to the press and the nation. He was delightful and reassuring to watch, he spoke the language of his profession like an angel, and every judge knew him as a man of integrity.
Gani was the most honourable lawyer Nigeria ever produced. To most Nigerians, particularly the poor and middle class, he was their hope, and epitome of graceful expectations of how to prosecute cases. He made the legal profession honourable.
One of Gani’s most memorable case was against Rotimi Williams over integrity. He made a mockery of the man Nigeria called “Rotimi the Law”, the Chairman of the 1979 Constitution Drafting Committee of 49 Wise Men. It was supposed to be 50 wise men until Chief Obafemi Awolowo pulled out of the committee.
The first appointment given to Rotimi Williams as Attorney General of Western Region was by Awolowo as Premier. It was the mistake of the then Head of State, General Muritala Mohammed to think Chief Obafemi Awolowo could serve under Rotimi Williams. Unfortunately, he never consulted Chief Obafemi Awolowo before he made the announcement on radio.
Rotimi Williams had sued Gani over his integrity and like Shylock he wanted a pound of flesh, the flesh that will show the nation Rotimi was the Law.
He also wanted an open apology in the court with the press and new radicals of media like Dan Agbese, Dele Giwa, Mohamed and Ogunsanya around. But he got more than what he bargained for.
When Gani stood up, the poor and middle class stood up with him. If Gani had failed lots of his fans would have cried openly in the court but he turned things around.
He took few steps towards the Judge and demanded to put Rotimi the Law on the witness stand for cross examination.
No one had ever done that in the history of Nigeria, probably in Africa.
Rotimi was not a short man either probably around 6.2 ft, tall and huge with sharp penetrating eyes, broad shoulders, his presence took away the oxygen in the room; he was the attention in any court. He was indeed the ‘Giant of Legal Profession.’
Rotimi wore his robe like a rag and if the event could be biblically assessed, it was like David standing next to Goliath.
Rotimi had everything his profession could offer, fame, money and power.
Judges bowed before him and who would not? He wrote the Law of the Land. If not why would he be called Rotimi the Law.
To the surprise of the nation, the presiding Judge granted the request of Gani to have the man that was greater than life on the cross-examination box.
Gani had a mischievous smile on his thin lips. He knew he had Rotimi by the balls. He was going to tear down the wall to show Nigerians how coleric his adversary was.
The hate was glaring, we knew the occasion would be historical as we were about to witness how David of Nigeria’s Legal Profession would defeat the Goliath of the Learned Colleagues.
Gani asked if Rotimi ever attended the popular Secondary School in Lagos, he mentioned. Rotimi had no choice than to confirm he did.
Gani told the court to look at Rotimi Williams as a student of the secondary school who stole a calculator or so and was sent out for stealing, if such a thief had any integrity?
Rotimi never had any integrity he said; infact he lost it from his secondary school days and wondered what he wanted to protect as an adult. Gani Fawehinmi concluded.
Rotimi Williams was almost in tears.
The Judge then called the two lawyers to his chambers and Rotimi Williams withdrew the case.
He never recovered from the bruises of the shame which the press sensationally reviewed on the pages of newspapers and talk radio.
From General Gowon to Military President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, they were all scared of Gani Fawehinmi.
Gani was a friend of the sick and the poor, a philanthropist with special attention to education where he noted his own weakness.
He gave Nigeria his all, energies and commitment to the Rule of Law and love for humanity.
If his profession were to be military, Gani would be more than a four star General.
He was indeed what a Lawyer could be, to this Oracle, Gani was the Perry Mason of Nigerian Law.
Forwarded by Isaac Onugha
What you make out of your university education depends on what you put into the society.
Your degree is not a waste; it is template for you to understand life and contribute meaningfully to the society.
The man who makes a difference is the one with education to improve his environments not the paper qualifications.
I beseach you my readers to have a renewal of spirit and mind in how you see life.
Let your goal in life be guided with your contribution to your society and never look down on anyone who came out of the University with ordinary pass. He could be the one to make a difference.
Courtesy: Adafapakuro SHOW
Copied from: Esosa Eremwanarue
NOTE: What the writer didn’t add, which is also very vital is that:
“Gani took Nigerian Bar Association to court and equally defeated them” It’s like defeating your entire profession.
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