The life and times of Mohammed Fawehinmi – Part 2
Mo was a detrabilised Nigerian. Initially when he joined us in the Chambers, we were all curious to know how he would fit into the various struggles of the Chief, on behalf of the masses, at the National Conscience Party platform and civil society generally. Apparently, Mo had his own revolutionary passion and he needed no persuasion on issues relating to good governance, due process of law, democracy and better life for the masses. Looking back now, I realize that Mo most probably stepped into the background whilst Chief held sway as the undisputed leader of the pro-democracy group in Nigeria, given all that Mo has accomplished after the demise of Chief. As a sign of his belief in one Nigeria, he was engaged to a lady from the South East, whom he wanted to marry and he was very serious about it. Mo would say it as it is and had no apology at all for anyone whose ox may be gored thereby. He was very frank and objective, always ready to be persuaded with superior reasoning different from his own.
Mohammed Fawehinmi was born on February 21, 1969, to Fawehinmi and his wife Alhaja Ganiyat. He attended Kotun Memorial Primary School, Surulere, Lagos, and had his secondary school education at Federal Government College, Sokoto. He was a 1991 graduate of Business Administration from the University of Lagos. He obtained an LL.B degree from the University of Buckingham, England and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1998. He enlisted as counsel in Gani Fawehinmi Chambers, where he practiced until he closed down the Chambers in line with the instructions of Gani, upon the latter’s death. On September 23, 2003, Mohammed had a lone car accident that confined him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Until his death last Wednesday, he was Head, Mohammed Fawehinmi’s Chambers, Director, Nigerian Law Publications Ltd, Director, Books Industries Nigeria Ltd, and Director, Gani Fawehinmi Library and Gallery Ltd.
‘Eghin Mo’ was very tall and handsome to behold, always neatly attired and boyish in outlook. He was very eloquent, perfectly combining his knowledge and study of English language with the practice of law. His was a case of whom the cap fits, let him wear it. The admirable part of his life was the way in which he handled the accident, with personal determination and zeal not to be deterred or discouraged thereby. He was always ready to do his utmost for the public good, he filed cases in court to challenge unfavourable government policies and rose to defend the masses at all times. Mo never married, despite his strong desire to do so. He was about 32 when he had that accident and had an Igbo lady he wanted to marry. Even after the accident, she still wanted to stay with him, but he advised her to move on, fearing that she would not be able to cope with the demands of his new condition. He was dependent on others for his survival and didn’t want that burden on her. She went away disappointed. He never wanted to take advantage of anybody or use his condition for exploitation. That is vintage Mo.
Two years after Gani’s death on September 4, 2009, at 71 years, Mohammed, as head of the Chambers, wound up his father’s law firm as stipulated in his father’s will. He paid off and disengaged all the lawyers in the Chambers, including himself, with effect from January 15, 2009, to fulfill the instructions contained in the Will. He then established his own law firm. But the closure did not affect other staff of the chambers, and the other companies owned by his father. Many of them were engaged in the new Fawehinmi Library and Gallery located in the Nigerian Law Publication House at CBD, Alausa, Ikeja. His resolve spurred him on and he set up Mohammed Fawehinmi Chambers where he began a successful law practice. He also ensured the continuity of the annual Gani Fawehinmi Scholarship scheme to indigent students in higher institutions across the country.
His injury notwithstanding, Mo kept the fire of activism, nurtured while his father was alive, burning. He intervened in national issues and would appear at important events involving the struggle to liberate Nigeria from the hands of its oppressors and gate keepers. Mo was courageous, dedicated, knowledgeable and committed to the liberation of the Nigerian people from the shackle of injustice in all its ramifications. And that is the reason for this tribute. Mo didn’t die, just as Gani himself didn’t depart the revolutionary scene, notwithstanding his physical absence. Their voices still speak and will keep speaking truth to power, on behalf of the people of Nigeria, along with the voices of other heroes and martyrs of our revolutionary struggles. Mo, you have not died the death of aristocrats but rather your name is ingrained in the minds of the people that you stood and fought for, your legacies remain indelible in the annals of our democratic experiences and I know that at the right time, history will stand you out as one of those who came, who saw and who conquered. Rest in power, thou soldier of the masses.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” “…Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
Adegboruwa is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
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