Gani Wins Anti-Corruption Award


Ahead of the International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December 2010, the late legal  luminary and human rights and anti-corruption activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, (SAN),  has won the 2010 Civil Society Anti-Corruption Defender Award posthumously.

His wife, Mrs. Ganiyat Fawehinmi, will receive the Award on behalf of Chief  Fawehinmi’s family at the event on Thursday, 9 December this year in Lagos State.

While the Minister for Information, Professor Dora Akunyili, is expected to chair  the event, other guests expected at the event include: Mr. Berend Jan Ronhaar, the  Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria; Mr. Bob Dewar, British High Commissioner to  Nigeria; Ms. Linda Nwoke, the BBC World Service Trust Country Director; Professor  Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) and Justice Bunmi Oyewole.

Former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu  won the award last year.

A joint statement signed by the Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism;  Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP); Women Advocates Research and  Documentation Centre (WARDC); Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), and  Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), which made up the award jury, said  Fawehinmi deserved the award for his “consistent and unparalleled commitment to the  cause of justice, transparency, accountability and development of the country.”

The statement signed on behalf of the groups by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo  Mumuni, said that, “Chief Fawehinmi was chosen for the 2010 Civil Society  Anti-Corruption Defender Award for his demonstrably strong leadership, scholarship,  integrity and honesty in both the practice of his legal profession and the cause of  humanity.

“No Nigerian, living or dead, suffered the level of persecution he faced. He was  detained in police custody or prison no fewer than 36 times.

“He was regularly in and out of jail for the cause of democracy, transparency,  accountability and the rule of law. He was physically assaulted in the hallowed  precincts of the courts and on the streets; his home and law office was sprayed with  bullets and bombed.”

“But despite the risks to his safety and security, he never compromised the ideals,  principles and the commitments that made him the Senior Advocate of the Masses, SAM,  a title given to him by students of the Obafemi Awolowo University.”

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“As a lawyer, Chief Fawehinmi saw law as an instrument against injustice, tyranny  and bad government, fighting injustice wherever and whenever it manifested itself.  He provided free legal representation to countless victims of human rights  violations. He represented Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni activists in court. He  handled about five thousand, seven hundred (5,700) briefs,” the groups added.

The groups also said that, the late Gani’s “unbelievable brilliance as a lawyer,  pertinacity and courage as a human rights defender and humanness as a fighter  against poverty distinguished him as the most celebrated anti-corruption defender of  his generation” .

As a result of his human rights and anti-corruption work, the late Fawehinmi was  arrested, detained, charged to court several times.

His international passport was seized on many occasions. He was deported from one  part of the country to another to prevent him from being listened to by Nigerians.

Some of his books which the Federal Military Government did not like were  confiscated. His Chambers at Anthony Village, Lagos State, was attacked and invaded  by persons suspected to be government security men.

On 26 August, 1995 Gani was arrested by the Federal Government Security agents of  Abacha’s regime at the Port-Harcourt Airport on his arrival by air from Lagos and  immediately deported back to Lagos through the same plane that brought him from  Lagos to Port-Harcourt.

The leader of the security men who arrested Gani at the Airport said to him:  “we  have orders not to allow you to enter Port-Harcourt and to put you on the same plane  that brought you from Lagos.”

—Eromosele Ebhomele

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