“A legal icon, defender of the law, defender of the masses. May his soul rest in perfect peace,” a retired chief judge said.
The family of late Godwin Ajayi on Monday said it would soon announce the burial arrangements for the late lawyer, who died on Friday in Lagos.
Mr. Ajayi, popularly called GOK based on his initials, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, passed on at the age of 83 at Reddington Hospital, Lagos, after a protracted illness.
Kehinde Okuneye, who spoke on behalf of the family at the late lawyer’s residence, told journalists that they were still deliberating on how to give their departed father a befitting burial.
Mr. Okuneye said the plans would soon be made public.
He noted that Mr. Ajayi was a devout Christian and a senior member of the Anglican Communion.
Meanwhile, some legal personalities have continued to pay condolence visits to the residence at No.17, Eniasoro Beyioku St., off Ajao Road, Surulere, Lagos, to commiserate with his family.
They poured encomiums on the late legal icon for his contributions to the Nigerian justice system, in their various entries in the condolence register.
A former Chief Judge of Lagos State, retired Justice Isola Olorunnimbe, wrote, “A fine gentleman.
“A legal icon, defender of the law, defender of the masses. May his soul rest in perfect peace.’’
In his message, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Jelili Owonikoko, wrote: “It is a glorious exit for a mentor, a leader, a father figure and above all, an icon of the legal profession.
“You were integrity personified and your legacy shall never die. Adieu sir.”
Another lawyer and activist, Ayo Obe, wrote: “Always proud to have followed you to the court. May you Rest in peace.”
Also, President Goodluck Jonathan and Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, have released condolence messages for the deceased.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Monday by Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity to President Jonathan, the president commiserated with Mr. Ajayi’s family, friends, colleagues and associates in the legal profession.
The president also commiserated with many Nigerians whose course and rights he vigorously defended throughout his outstanding career.
“As they mourn the eminent Senior Advocate of Nigeria, President Jonathan urges them to be consoled by the knowledge that Chief Ajayi lived a very fulfilled life.
“Ajayi will even in death, continue to serve as an enduring model of dedication to truth, equity and justice for all,” Mr. Abati said.
In his reaction, Mr. Amosun, in a statement made available to journalists in Abeokuta, described Mr. Ajayi as consistent, forthright and famous. The governor noted that the late lawyer was involved in several high profile cases that championed the cause of progressives.
“I remember cases such as the 12 2/3 suit of Awolowo vs Shagari over the 1979 Presidential election, the Abdul Rahman Shugaba vs Minister of Internal Affairs and the legal battle of the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election, among others, which are still reference points till today,” Mr. Amosun said.
In the press release signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Funmi Wakama, the governor said he joined members of the bar and the bench as well as other Nigerians to mourn the passing of this “last colossus of the first generation of Nigerian lawyers.”
“He was a progressive lawyer and that explains his closeness to the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. His death is a great loss to the legal community,” the governor said.
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