Fawehinmi, Onagoruwa: The Nigerian Legal Luminaries

Gani Fawehinmi was a Nigerian legal luminary, who fought injustice until his last day. Olu Onagoruwa was a Nigerian legal luminary too, who also fought injustice until his last day. Both legal icons had two things in common, their profession was the same and they fought for the same cause. But, no matter how, every individual possesses his sense of uniqueness despite the common cause people are noted for. Both Fawehinmi and Onagoruwa were legal luminaries, though contemporaries, but could be given legendary comparison.

The questions are, Who is Gani Fawehinmi? Who is Olu Onagoruwa?
While we won’t attempt to go into their backgrounds but deeply concerned here only about the “commonness” of their radicalism, struggle and defence for the less privileged, but both operate on different tactics and strategies. Gani Fawehinmi was a no nonsense man who was bold on every side and was ready to speak out the truth in every situation, likewise Olu Onagoruwa. Olu Onagoruwa was quite noted for his political activism, but he dined with his enemy and found himself in the snare of Abacha, the fowler.

While Fawehinmi was using the long spoon to dine with the devil operating from the distance, Onagoruwa was using short spoon, perhaps the reason he was quickly caught as prey by the predator, General Sanni Abacha. While Onagoruwa was not actually the target, but he was gradually killed bit by bit after the apple of his eye, his dear son, Toyin, a handsome lawyer was killed – a pathetic situation that threw him into utter darkness of his life in which he later suffered a partial stroke.

Olu Onagoruwa’s struggle for the nation towards “Constitutional Conference” which Abacha promised on which his acceptance of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation was based. While he was critized by Fawehinmi, Onagoruwa answered, “I have been placed in a position where I can help return Nigeria to constitutional order and create a more stable constitutional polity”. But he made a promise that defined the rest of his life. “If tomorrow the government says they are no longer interested in the constitutional conference, and then my presence there becomes irrelevant”.

And truly when Abacha breached his contract, he, Onagoruwa had to resign and was prepared to fight the Military in the snare. On the other hand, Gani Fawehinmi chose not to associate with the Military under no reason, having been mindful of their tactics. He would not even accept an offer in disguise, to fight his adversary. Fawehinmi preferred “to stand alone” and fight to the end. He had been put in detention over forty times, yet had never wavered or looked back in his humanitarian cause.

Gani Fawehinmi was passionate to the call and his philanthropic gesture was extended to the vulnerable that needed his service without charging fees and for the protection of fundamental human right. Upon his death, in his remembrance, the Gani Fawehinmi Park in Ojota Lagos was named in his honour.

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