Late Mohammed Fawehinmi
Mohammed Fawehinmi: A Friend, Whom My Love Surpass The Love Of Women -By Chief Malcolm Emokiniovo Omirhobo Esq
I am dispirited to hear the sad news of the death of my dear friend, Mohammed Fawehinmi, fondly known as Moh. In pains and tears, I ask why is this world unfair, cruel, mean and heartless to good people. Oh yes! Moh was a good man. He was an affable companionable person. He was a jolly good fellow. I will for the rest of my life relive and treasure the memories of my relationship with him. Even though, it unexpectedly ended up tragically. I want this wicked world to know that it has lost one of its finest gentlemen.
I belong to the 1997 set of the Nigerian Law School, the last unified law school and the first to be called to bar at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. Moh was my classmate. He was a smart, social, fun loving, intelligent, polished, responsible, courteous, well-groomed, humble, amiable, energetic, well-built and physically fit handsome young man, with very good height and physique. For those who knew Moh, he moves bouncing on his toes as if he had spring in his feets.
At the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos, Moh was practically everybody’s friend except my good self. My refusal to befriend Moh throughout our one year course at the law school was not because I had any beef with him but it was just that I did not want to be his friend because everybody was his friend and I did not want to join the crowd of his fans. Moh had a magnetic personality. He was like honey to bees and sugar to ants. Anywhere or everywhere he went people were always around him. He was the Man of the People.
At the Law School, I have several times shared same space with Moh, at the restaurant, auditorium, in the library, administrative office and even same table but I never for once spoke a word to him or approached him as the super star that he was to be my friend, even though, I adored and loved him dearly. Endeared by his good qualities and aura I admired him from a far.
Moh’s modesty, humility and simplicity was second to none notwithstanding his aristocratic background. For those who do not know him, Moh had two first degrees. One in Business Administration from the University of Lagos and another in Law from the University of Buckingham, England before proceeding to the Nigerian Law School.
He was the first son of late Chief Abdul-Ganiyu “Gani” Oyesola Fawehinmi, GCON, the Lamofin of Ondo, (SAN) a Nigerian author, publisher of the almighty Nigerian Weekly Law Report which revolutionized law practice in Nigeria, philanthropist, social critic, politician, human and civil rights lawyer with one of the biggest and relevant law firm in Nigeria. Nevertheless, Moh did not allow his privileged background affect his dealings with people especially the poor, the sick, the weak, the voiceless, the needy and vulnerable ones. He was friend to Okadamen, gatemen and their families, the vendors at the corners of the streets, messengers, cleaners and low income earners. He was real, down to earth and never pretentious.
I remember vividly one occasion as young wigs, after court session at the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja judicial division, Moh had lunch with me and two other colleagues of ours at a local restaurant and after our meal to our greatest consternation he preferred Pure Water to Bottle Water. In fact, I and the two others persuaded him to drink Bottle Water, because we did not want to be parties to or witnesses to his untimely death but he assured us and we verily believed him that it was okay for him to drink Pure Water.
Moh and I became friends in 1998, about three months after our call to the Nigerian Bar when we ran into each other at Marina Street, Lagos Island. On that fateful day, we first walked pass each other and after taking about twelve steps apart we simultaneously did about turns and walked back to each other. We had a very big warm and firm hand shake as if to make up for the delay of our friendship.
I already knew his names but I cannot remember if he knew mine because I was not loud at the Law School, nevertheless, it was certain that he knew that I was his class mate, a learned friend and colleague. We exchange pleasantries and try to catch up on what we have been doing since Call to Bar. I started by telling him that I did not see him during our Call-to-Bar ceremony. He laughed heartly and proved to me that he partook in the ceremony by narrating in details the incident of how the Call-to-Bar Certificate of one of our colleagues was snatched from her hand by whirlwind and blown high, high into to the sky and deposited several kilometers away. He shocked me to my marrow when he reminded me that on that very day I was putting on an orange colour designers shirt and a black trouser.
Moh was a man who was very much alert and conscious of his environment. He also had a very good retentive memory and was an extrovert extra ordinary. He made other people’s business his business. Once he gets to know your name, it sticks. Once you let him into your life he becomes part of your life. If Moh met you for the first time today and he gets to know your name and you happen to share some information with him, if you meet him eight months later Moh will not only call you by your name, he will continue his discussion with you from where you stopped. He was a continuity master. You will hear him say things like, Mr. Malcolm, how did that your case with the Federal Government on the enforcement of fundamental right go? Oga Johnny how is your mother’s health now? Mr. Kayode, have you completed your Masters Degree programme? Mr. Okon, how is your hire purchase agreement going? Oga Chinedu, have you settled with your landlord? Alhaji how is Amina’s school? etc.
Moh was a compassionate and empathetic person. He had the ability to understand other people’s thoughts and feelings in situations from their point of view, rather than his. He was highly sympathetic and had concern for others.
Moh was happy to give a helping hand and share knowledge with his colleagues. He was not a selfish and self centered person. He was ever ready to assist anyone that comes his way. Moh ensured that a few of our class mates were employed by his father’s law firm. He helped and encouraged me as a young lawyer who dared to branch out to establish his own law firm and became a principal counsel after only one month and twenty days tutelage under Mike Igbokwe (SAN) and a sound internship at Anthony Idigbe’s SAN law firm.
Moh had a tremendous wealth of experience of law practice, even before we were called to Bar as lawyers. You can imagine, the next working day after our Call to-Bar Moh appeared at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, as counsel and did that every other day. For us lawyers we know what it takes to appear at the Supreme Court, it is a feat that some lawyers will through out their entire career not accomplish. Moh had one of the best Law Library’s in the country at his disposal and works in one of the biggest and busiest Law Firm in Nigeria.
Moh was always available for his colleagues to ask questions on knotty legal issues and he was ever ready to proffers solutions to their problems. He taught me a couple of tricks in practice. He advised me to ensure that I apply the principle of creative spark to my practice which is an intangible talent or method that allows an individual to create significant non-obvious value at a point in time. He explained that creative spark is an elusive element of thought and work that is the difference between creating obvious work items with regular value and revolutionizing something to create unusual value. He said with this skill I will be unpredictable to my opponents and ahead of them. This advise has been golden to me and I have always applied it in my law practice to date.
Moh was a very independent person, he did not depend on his family wealth. He was a big time hustler. He demonstrated this some time in 2002, when we met again on the road at Ire-Akari Estate, Isolo, Lagos. This time not on foot, not in our fathers’ cars but our own cars. We drove pass each other and reversed to take stock of life. We both packed our cars came down and had a long chat. I was driving a BMW 3 series M40 engine while, Moh was driving a Mercedes-Benz C class. We were proud and happy with each other for owning our own cars. Ordinary as a rich man’s son, I will not be surprised to see Moh driving in such a powerful car, but Moh did not want that assumption, he spared no time in letting me know that his father had no hand in the purchase of the car. He told me that apart from working in his father’s Law Firm, he also handles his own private Briefs, which fetched him good money. He said he made some millions from just one Brief from which he bought his car. We’ve changed telephone numbers and kept in touch.
In 2003, Moh was involved in a motor accident in Lagos, which affected his spinal cord and confined him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. His disablement devastated his life and shatters his dreams. He nevertheless tried to pick himself up but it was not easy. Even though, he tried not to wear his sadness and disappointment on his sleeves, he could not wish them away. He became withdrawn which was not one of his attributes.
Until his death he was Head, Mohammed Fawehinmi’s Chambers, Director, Nigerian Law Publications Limited, Director, Books Industries Nigeria Limited, and Director, Gani Fawehinmi Library and Gallery Limited. These achievements are good but not good enough for a great man like Moh. But for his disablement.
Moh would have been the youngest SAN in Nigeria. He would have been a loving and caring husband. He would have been a doting and proud father. He would have been in the forefront of public interest and pro-bono litigation. He would have spared headed human right cases and put the government of the day in check. He would have helped developed the law. He would have won many awards locally and internationally. He would have been a social critic. He would have made more friends and remain a solid pillar to his old friends. Moh would have impacted positively on the lives of many people .
Oh Moh, my dear friend, if only you knew how many times I cried because of your inability to realise your dreams until my tears ran dry. In 2019, the very last time I saw you at the Ikeja High Court, in wheel chair after court session, I went back into the empty court room and weep profusely because I could feel your pains, despair and struggle.
My dear Moh , a million words would not bring you back, I know because I tried, neither would a million tears, I know because I cried. My dear friend if only you can see me now, I am highly distressed for you. Moh, you were nice and wonderful to me which is why my love for you surpass the love of women.
The memories of your friendship will never fade away.
Moh I am better for knowing you, better for loving you, better for having met you. May you be as blessed in the next life, my friend, as I was in this one by knowing you.
Adieu my friend.