Mohammed Fawehinmi: A Friend Whom My Love For Surpass The Love Of Women

By  Chief Malcolm Emokiniovo Omirhobo.

LAGOS AUGUST 21ST (NEWSRANGERS)-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 , 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 Okada men  , gate men  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 decree 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 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  m 40 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 .

Chief (Barr.) Malcolm Omirhobo is a Human Right Lawyer based in Lagos

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