Law News
Aturu, Osinbajo bag Fawehinmi integrity award
Osinbajo and Aturu (1964-2014)

The Nigerian Bar Association, lkeja branch, last week Thursday honoured the late human rights lawyer, Bamidele Aturu as the recipient of its second edition of the Gani Fawehinmi Integrity Award.

Also conferred with the same honour was the vice presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN).

The two men, the NBA Ikeja branch, said were chosen “after a vigorous and painstaking search” as men who exemplified Fawehinmi’s guiding principles while alive.

Fawehimmi, a rights lawyer, died on September 5, 2009.

The Ikeja Bar said the award was inaugurated two years ago in recognition of what Fawehinmi stood for.

“We know what Gani stood for all his life. He hated corruption with a passion. He was all for the uplift of the standard of living of the Nigerian poor masses.

“This award is given to men and women of very high integrity in a society where such people are few and far between,” the Ikeja NBA said.

Aturu and Osinbajo were the second set of practitioners to receive the Fawehinmi Integrity Award by the Ikeja branch of the NBA.

The award was first received in 2010 by two justices of the Lagos State High Court bench, namely: Justices Olubunmi Oyewole and Habeeb Abiru. Both judges have now been elevated to the Court of Appeal.

Rationalising the choice of Osinbajo, the Chairman of the Ikeja branch of the NBA, Mr. Yinka Farounbi, said Osinbajo was rewarded for laying the foundation of a revolutionised administration of justice in Lagos and the entire nation.

Farounbi said Osinbajo rid the Lagos judiciary of corruption and saw to the upgrading of the welfare of judges and magistrates in Lagos State while he was the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General.

He said, “Some may ask why Osinbajo? This award is given to Osinbajo as reward for what he has done for the administration of justice in Lagos State, which in turn have been copied by virtually all the states across the Federation.”

Farounbi itemised innovations such as the High Court of Lagos State Civil Procedural Rule and the Directorate of Citizen’s Right, as the brainchild and legacies of Osinbajo, which though were initiated in Lagos State but had now been adopted by many other states across the country.

“For instance, the High Court of Lagos State Civil Procedural Rule was put together under his watch. This move has revolutionised the administration of justice in Nigeria as many states have adopted it almost verbatim; even the court of appeal. This is a no mean achievement.

“Similarly, he initiated the Directorate of Citizen’s Right, which is made up of the Office of the Public Defender, which provides free legal services to indigent masses. It is interesting to note that many states in Nigeria have since copied this innovation.

“It was also under his watch that the welfare packages of judges in Lagos State improved tremendously. These are just some of his achievements, which made him a candidate for this award,” Farounbi noted.

Of Aturu, Fabounbi said, he was honoured post-humously not only because he was a staunch follower of Fawehinmi when he was alive but for also showing dedication to the cause of the Ikeja branch of the NBA, not sparing his money.

Farounbi said Aturu was worthy of the integrity award because he stood by and spoke up for the oppressed at every available opportunity. He said Aturu did many pro bono cases for the poor, not with the intention of gaining fame but to alleviate their pains.

“For Bamidele Aturu, he has served the masses of this country sacrificially. And just like the Bible’s saying, Aturu loved not his life unto death. He gave sacrificially to the poor masses; he handled pro bono cases not for the fame it would bring to him but for the succour that it would bring to the oppressed people,” Farounbi noted.

Earlier, the chairman of the organising committee of this year’s Gani Fawehinmi Annual Lecture/Gani Fawehinmi Integrity Award, Mr. Adeyinka Fasika, had said that the award was reserved for individuals who exemplified the qualities that Fawehinmi stood for during his life.

In his acceptance speech, Osinbajo noted that though he initially declined his nomination as the APC vice presidential candidate, he however accepted it as a mark of sacrifice for the nation.

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