There has been no end to the Encomiums heaped on the late legal luminary Gani Fawhenmi (SAN). but the biggest news over the weekend was the supposedly wanted former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) boss, Nuhu Ribadu coming into the country for Gani’s memorial ceremony in Lagos and leaving afterwards; under the eyes of the police who are after him. Was it that the police did not know he was coming into the country or if they did , was it that they could not abduct arrest him for the ‘fear of the crowds’ ?
Whatever may have been the case it is unfortunate that someone like Ribadu who did a lot (whether we like it or not) in the fight against corruption to be treated like a common criminal for (it seems) that very reason. Oh yes he may have gone after only selected (by Obasanjo) victims, but don’t forget that the selected victims were actually corrupt ; plus the work EFCC did against smaller scale corruption, for instance online scam which has done enough to the image of Nigeria abroad (It is bad enough that every non-Nigerian gets alarmed whenever there an E-Mail coming from Nigeria). Despite all the efforts at rebranding our image, by the treatment of Ribadu, the message government seems to be giving is that ‘Corruption is normal here either you join in or keep quiet.’
Which is why Gani Fawhenmi is the hero that he is. rather than giving in to the system or keeping quiet like most of his fellow elites, Gani stood up for what he knew was good and against what was wrong despite the opposition. And there was opposition: Gani was detained 32 times by the police and state security agents, his chambers and home has suffered 16 desecrations and his international passport was seized on 10 different occasions. I still vividly remember seeing Gani on television in the dark days of the Abacha regime fighting (that the only way to describe the way he speaks) for democracy. Nigeria truly lost a hero on the 5th of September , a badly needed one at a time where, in Nigeria, heroism is usually synonymous with stupidity. RIP Gani Fawhenmi.