Vanguard (Lagos)

15 September 2009

Nigeria: Ondo Immortalises Gani With Diagnostics Centre

Akure — THE government of Ondo State, in honour of the late legal icon and human rights activist, Chief Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi, promised yesterday to establish a Diagnostics Centre in his hometown, Ondo.

Governor Olusegun Mimiko made the pledge in Akure at a special farewell ceremony/day of tributes in honour of Gani at the Akure Sports Stadium.

The ceremony was witnessed by a tumultuous crowd among whom were Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State; Deputy Governors of Ekiti and Ogun states -- Chief Sikiru Lawal and Alhaja Salmot Badru respectively -- and former governors Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state, Abubakar Rimi of Kano State, human rights leaders, student representatives and Senior Advocates of Nigeria and lawyers from across the country.

Governor Mimiko who said that Gani's death could not be measured, noted that "no money can compensate for his loss."

Ondo immortalises Gani

According to him, the state government "is desirous of establishing a "Gani Fawehinmi Diagnostics Centre in Ondo town to keep the memory of the indefatigable crusader alive."

From left: Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State; Dr. Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State Governor and wife, Olukemi.

According to him, a board of trustees will be set up to advice on the modalities to best actualise it.

Dr Mimiko enjoined corporate and private donors to partner with the state government to complete the project.

According to him, the loss of Gani "is of a monumental proportion to the country and particularly to us in Ondo state, we ought to be consoled by the memory of a man whose legacies are ennobling, a man who showed us how to achieve considerable harmony between theories and praxis, a man who lived by example and whose philosophy of life was in constant consonance with his earthly actions."

He described the deceased "as a persistent emancipator of the oppressed, a dogged fighter for the truth and probity, a principled crusader for good governance and an unwavering advocate of education as the key to human progress."

According to him, "by his death, the rank of the crusaders for noble causes has been depleted and the effectiveness and pungency of their agitation vitiated."

Lawyers and others the venue awaiting the arrival of Gani's body.

Dr Mimiko said that despite the fact that he was detained 32 times in police cells, slammed into Federal Prisons eight times and had his passport seized ten times in a period spanning 25 years, Gani remained "unbowed by the attendant hardships to a life of activism.

"He continued the struggle against corruption and bad governance by remaining the tormentor-in-chief to recent autocratic governments in Nigeria.

"His numerous cases against leaders mostly centered on probity and accountability in office while quite a few were efforts in democratising access to economic opportunities.

From left: Alhaja Ganiyat Fawehinmi (widow); Mr. Mohammed Fawehinmi (son) and Mrs. Abike Fawehinmi (widow).

To Gani's widows and children, the governor asked them to take solace in the knowledge that their mentor was great in life and even greater in death.

Yar'Adua, others pay tributes

Eulogies poured in freely yesterday at the lying-in-state.

Governor Mimiko was moved to tears as he was seeing the corpse of Gani after his death for the fist time.

He said he spoke on phone with the deceased few days before his death.

As the widows of the deceased ascended the podium decorated in black and white, the governor broke down in tears and had to wipe his face with a handkerchief.

He received the deceased family with his wife Kemi, while other dignitaries stood as a mark of respect for the dead. Gani's corpse arrived the Akure Sports Stadium from his Ondo residence at 1.15pm .

His eldest son Mohammed Fawehinmi vowed to continue with his father's struggle saying that the war against oppression would not be abandoned

"We would not disappoint Nigerians. Our father's dream and wish for a better Nigeria would not be abandoned."

He called for the removal of the Education Minister, Dr. Sam Egwu, so that the face-off between the Federal government and ASUU could be resolved.

Mohammed thanked the Ondo state governor for the honour done his father by Nigerians, saying that it was evident that his father lived a good and worthy life that affected many, especially the less-privileged.

The corpse was dressed in the popular Ondo attire of deep blue and deep purple traditional wear, complete with a pair black shoes, wrist watch, dark glasses and a golden chain on his neck. The corpse was in a glass casket.

School pupils lined the streets as the cortege arrived Akure, from his Ondo home.

His body was received at the stadium by the Attorney-General and Justice Commissioner, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) and other Senior Advocates of Nigeria including Rotimi Akeredolu, Niyi Akintola and Tayo Oyetibo.

Aside the glass casket another golden casket provided by TOS Funeral accompanied the corpse to the venue of the farewell ceremony yesterday.

Lawyers took turn to file past the casket while students, human right activists, old school mates and other well wishers sang his praises just as different tunes of the late afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti rent the air.

Two traditional rulers, the Osemawe of Ondo, Oba Victor Kiladejo and the Deji of Akureland sent their staff of office which accompanied the corpse to the venue of the lying-in-state.

In his tribute, President Umaru Yar'Adua, represented by his Special Assistant on Political Matter, Senator Polycap Nwite said that Gani lived a worthy life that would never be forgotten.

The President pointed out that the mammoth crowds from all walks of life who have been attending ceremonies in Gani's honour showed that he was the friend of the masses and was generally acceptable.

The President said that Gani fought those that make unjust laws in the country till his death adding that his ideas would not die.

President of the West African Bar Association, Mr. Femi Falana said that "We are not here to celebrate Gani's cars, houses or wealth but his consistency, courage, truthfulness, integrity and honesty."

Falana congratulated the families for "donating" him to Nigeria, Africa and assured them that they would not regret it.

The MOSOP leader Ledun Mittee described Gani as an organized man who knew what he wanted for Nigeria and fought to ensure it became a reality.

Chief Olu Falae said that many people benefited from Gani's free legal services during his life time.

The Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly Toafiq Abdusalam said that that Gani fought a good fight to free the oppressed till his death.

The Campaign for Democracy leader Joe Odumakin said that the death of Gani has left a "terrible blow to the Human Rights Group in the country."

The Governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola said that words cannot describe Gani as he lived a good life and left good legacies.

According to him he lived and died for the masses and was very generous and was ready to share whatever he had with others.

The NBA Chairman Rotimi Akeredolu said that Gani deserved more than all the accolades showered on him because he was a great man who had over 1000 person on his payroll and was a mentor to lawyers in the country.

Four notable Nigerian musicians the King of Juju music, King Sunny Ade, Lord of Ajasa, Olu Maintain and Cliff Sama added glamour to the ceremony.

His remains was later moved to Ondo where he would be interred today.

Present at the ceremony were Senator Polycarp Nwite, Special Assistant to President Umaru Yar'Adua on Political matters, representing the President; Dr Bode Olajumoke, representing the Senate President, Chief David Mark; Dr Olu Agunloye, governorship candidate of AC in Ekiti state, Kayode Fayemi, Chief Adeyinka Adebayo, President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN); Chief Olu Falae, Chief Rueben Fasoranti, Chief Femi Falana among others.

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