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Soyinka recommends Fawehinmi for Nobel Peace Prize

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Soyinka spoke in Lagos at a tribute session organised by the Gani Fawehinmi Chambers Alumni (GAFCA), a group of about 130 lawyers who cut their legal teeth under Fawehinmi.

The Nobel laureate who was guest speaker at the event, drove into the Ostra Hotel Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos venue of the event in a Prado Toyota Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) at 11.50 a.m. The event was slated for 12 noon. He spotted a white shirt over a black trousers with a pair of black shoes. Soyinka who limped said he got injured on his left ankle a day before, and so could not climb the podium to deliver his speech, which he did at his seat in the audience.

The Nobel laureate could not stand for too long so he abridged his speech to last less than 10 minutes. In fact, he was recalled by the chief celebrant, Mr. Yemi Adefulu, the chief executive officer of Odade/Lexis Nexis Publishers Lagos, to receive a plaque as an award for accepting to honour the invitation.

In his speech, Soyinka recommended Fawehinmi for the Nobel Peace Prize as “no one among Nobel laureate for peace can even scratch his feet in his achievement in the peace process in Nigeria.”

While eulogising the late legal icon, Soyinka said: ” This man in whose honour we gathered today was a fighter. He fought for the very downtrodden people of his country. He helped to restore peace which we are savouring in this country now through his dogged style to enthrone democracy in Nigeria”.

He continued: “Fawehinmi who has fought for his country needs to be celebrated, remembered and honoured. In our minds, the progressive thinking people, Gani is already a Nobel laureate for peace and it is only time that will prove us right, and I wish he will be made one soon.”

On the method Fawehinmi employed for his struggle, Soyinka revealed that the late social crusader applied violence to some level to achieve his aims.

He said: “Many of you did not know Gani too well. Gani was not a passivist. He did not believe in non-violent struggle. He employed it to some extent and it worked out to achieve the result he wanted.”

On the torrent of tribute that poured in after Fawehinmi passed on, Soyinka commended Nigerians who honoured the late lawyer this way, they recognised the role the great lawyer of the people played on the Nigerian stage.

He, however, expressed regret that the tributes also came from those that Fawehinmi fought to a standstill in order to bring about good governance. According to Soyinka, the tributes from Fawehinmi’s perceived enemies are “insulting to his (Gani’s) memory” because they were not needful.

The Nobel laureate, who is also a ground soldier in the struggle for social upliftment of Nigerians, said the greatest legacy the legal icon left was “the therapy for those living” to continue the struggle.

Soyinka urged all the other freedom fighters “to pick it up from where Fawehinmi left off and fight, realising all this great lawyer lived and died for.”

In his welcome address, Adefulu, one of the lawyers who served in Fawehinmi’s chambers in 1971, thanked Soyinka for honouring their invitation at short notice.

To Adefulu, the tributes that trailed Fawehinmi’s death showed that the late lawyer actually spent his life for humanity, law and the country, adding that those of them privileged to pass through him were very proud of the late lawyer.

Chief Ishola Filani, who represented the lawyers that served in Fawehinmi’s chambers in 1977, described the deceased as ” a compassionate person, hardworking and a compendium of law itself because whoever passed through him must know law intoto.” “Whatever we are today, Fawehinmi made us.”

Mr. Oluwole Kehinde, the Editor of the Nigerian Weekly Law Reports (NWLR) who also served in Fawehinmi’s Chambers, spoke for the 1995 set.

Other dignitaries at the event included a Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, President, West African Bar Association (WABA), Mr. Femi Falana, a close associate of Fawehinmi, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), Mr. Mike Ozekhome, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, a rights activist and one of Fawehinmi’s juniors in chambers and Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, the Campaign for Democracy president.

Fawehinmi’s first son, Mohammed and other family members also attended the ceremony.


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