Nigerian novelist, publisher, philanthropist, social critic, human and civil rights attorney, and politician Chief Abdul-Ganiyu “Gani” Oyesola Fawehinmi, GCON, SAN.
How Gani Fawehinmi Gained Fame
He gained fame when he took on the case of Bala Abashe, a factory worker who claimed that Andrew Obeya, the secretary to the Benue-Plateau State administration, had an affair with his wife. Obeya was then sued by Abashe for violence and adultery-related damages.
While the state government supported their official, Fawehinmi took the matter on pro-free for Abashe.
Fawehinmi was asked to withdraw the matter, but when refused, Obeya was compelled to quit. Fawehinmi, though, spent nine months in custody. The case’s publicity increased awareness of his legal firm.
In 1986, while Chief Gani Fawehinmi was Dele Giwa’s Lawyer, the latter was killed in a bomb blast under suspicious circumstances.
As a result of his activities chief Gani Fawehinmi was arrested, detained and charged to court several times. His international passport was seized on many occasions and his residence and Chambers were searched several times. He was beaten up time after time and was deported from one part of the country to another to prevent him from being able to effectively reach out to the masses among whom he was popular. His books were confiscated by the Federal Military Government and his library at Surulere, a suburb of Lagos, were set ablaze. His law Chambers at Anthony Village, Lagos State, were invaded by persons suspected to be agents of the government. The guards were shot, two of them seriously wounded.
In the process of his crusades for the rule of law, the hopes and aspirations of the poor and the oppressed, he fought many battles against military dictatorship as a result of which he was arrested several times by the military governments and their numerous security agents. He was dumped in many police cells and detained in several prisons between 1969 and 1996.
Largest Library in Nigeria
His library is recorded as the largest library in Nigeria. It housed over one million collections of books and non-books materials on various subjects ranging from law, politics, biographies, religion, and social sciences, and almanacs and encyclopedias. It also has an archive with collection of newspaper and magazines from the early 1970s to date. these are some of the newspaper that cannot be found in any other library in Nigeria.
On 11 June 1993 Fawehinmi was awarded the biennial Bruno Kreisky Prize. This prize, named in honour of Bruno Kreisky, is awarded to international figures who advance human rights causes. In 1998, he received the International Bar Association’s ‘Bernard Simmons Award’ in recognition of his human-rights and pro-democracy work.
In 2018, Chief Fawehinmi was also posthumously awarded the Order of the Niger, Nigeria’s second highest honour.