Prominent lawyer bags highest title in legal profession

Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- After being denied the honour for years due to his anti-establishment stance, one of Nigeria's most-celebrated lawyers has finally bagged the title of Senior Advocate of Nigerian (SAN), the most prestigious title that can be conferred on a lawyer practising in the country.
Gani Fawehinmi, who has been in the bad books of most past administrations in the country due to his mixture of human rights activism with his legal practice, is one of the 12 lawyers who bagged the most sought-after acronym in the arena of the country's legal practice on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court said in a statement that the decision awarding the title to the lawyers came after the meeting of the Legal Practitioners' Privileges Committee (LLPC), the body charged with the responsibility of appointing SANs.
It said 112 lawyers applied for the title this year.
Though 63-year-old Fawehinmi, who joined the bar in 1965, is widely thought to have met the criteria for the award several years ago, his supporters believe he was denied the honour due to his human rights campaign, especially during the regimes of the military dictators who ruled Africa's most- populous nation for more than two-thirds of its 40 years of independence.
Almost all the military despots detained him in several dingy cells across the country for his campaign, during which he filed hundreds of cases challenging their governments in the court of law.
He is still pursuing one of such cases, in which he accused top security officials of the government of former Gen.
Ibrahim Babangida of being responsible for the bombing to death of renowned journalist Dele Giwa in 1986.
But the LLPC denied sidelining him because of his anti- government posture, saying the popular lawyer had just refused to apply for the title - one of the prerequisites.
The statutory provision for the conferment of the SAN says, "a person shall not be conferred with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria unless he has been qualified to practice as a legal practitioner in Nigeria for not less than 10 years and has achieved distinction in the legal profession in such manner as the committee may from time to time determine".
Apart from his legal practice, Fawehinmi, who was educated (as an external student) at the University of London and the Nigerian Law School, has been publishing the Nigerian Weekly Law Report (NWLR), which gives members of the bar and the bench access to the latest legal authorities.
Aping the prestigious title, students of one of Nigeria's foremost universities, the Obafemi Awolowo University, gave the restless lawyer the title of Senior Advocate of the Masses (SAM), an award he then described as more honourable than SAN.
Fawehinmi is yet to personally comment on the award as he is currently recuperating from a heart surgery in a London hospital.
But one of his workers, who gave his name as Jacob, told PANA Thursday that Fawehinmi was informed of the award on Wednesday.
"The family is quite moved with the award," he said, hinting that the family would issue a press statement later in the day.
Akanle, T.
Ezeobi, O.
Adekoya, D.
A Ibegbu, A.
B Mahmoud, A.
Akpomudje, A.
Kayode, M.
Belgore, A.
Naiwu, Akintola Adeniyi and D.
Dodo also bagged the title.
The new SANs will be sworn in 10 September.

26 july 2001 12:09:00

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