Encomiums as human rights community celebrates Falana

Tuesday, 16 October 2012 00:00 By Bertram

IT was an encomium galore a fortnight ago in Lagos as human rights community gathered in Lagos to honour one of its own, Femi Falana, who was recently elevated to the rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC).At the event, held at the Jade Chinese Restaurant, Isaac John Street, Ikeja, speakers upon speakers extolled the positive virtues of Falana, “which make him stand out as the voice of the voiceless and the fieriest fighter of injustice after the late Chief Gani Fawhemini, his mentor.”Present at the event were Ms Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, Dr. Kola Olaniyan of the Amnesty International, London, Debo Adeniran of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), Olanrewaju Suraju and Sulaimon Arigbabu.Others were: Biola Akiode-Afolabio, Mma, Odi, Mrs. Funmi Falana, Folarin Falana, Richard Akinnola, Malachy Ugwumadu, Prof. Maurice Fangnon, Dr. Keziah Awosika and Princess Obiageli –Onu.

According to Adeniran, who kick-started the torrents of tributes, “Falana has remained consistent with the fight against rights abuses in the country.

“Everything that Falana has done, right from his school days, was to liberate Nigerians, who are oppressed by those in government”.

Falana, he said, has been at the forefront of the struggle for the emancipation of the downtrodden as well as being around to mobilise lawyers to defend human rights activists arrested during protests.

Adeniran, who described the award as coming too late, said Falana, who should have gotten the award 10 years ago, has already been recognized with an award of the Senior Advocate of the African Masses (SAAM) in far away Senegal, early in the year.

In his own remarks, Richard Akinnola, urged Falana to continue to be the voice of the voiceless and committed in the struggle as well as see his elevation to the inner bar as an added advantage in the new phase of the struggle.

“Activists, he said, should not be celebrated when they are late but when they are still alive”.

For Ms Yemisi Ransome Kuti, the next stage of the struggle should be how to get activists into the political system and seat of power.

She regretted that human rights activists, who ventured into politics, had not been successful because of lack of support from the community.

Falana’s wife, Funmi, in her remarks thanked the organisers for recognizing her husband and pledged that it would spur him to do more for the down-trodden.

Funmi, who described the last 30 years with her husband in the struggle as a traumatic journey, called for unity in the human rights community in Nigeria and expressed worries over the proliferation of human rights groups in the country.

Responding to the call, Falana pledged that the award of the Senior Advocate would renew his commitment in the struggle.

According to him, though many battles had been fought and many won, the fight is not yet won.

The human rights community, he said, should be ready to challenge the autocratic rulers Nigeria.

Falana further urged the human rights community to build on the progress recorded during the fuel subsidy protests by being more organised to move the country forward.

“The fight against corruption will be won if political leaders are made to be accountable to the people,”, he said.

 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 00:00 By Nnamdi Inyama, David Ibemere, Bisi Adebayo, Adeyemi Adeagbo, Tony Nwanne and Omosebi Oluwarantimi News – Metro

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