Radical lawyer and former president of the West African Bar Association, Femi Falana, has joined 24 other lawyers who will be inducted into the silk club of the Nigerian Bar otherwise called the Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, this year.
Also on the list are Rotimi Jacobs, prosecution counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Dayo Akinlaja, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ekiti State, and law teacher, Professor Akinseye-George.
Others are Professor Dakas James Dakar, Mrs Joy Okungbowa Adesina, Chief Mrs Connie-Jean Aremu, Mahmud Abubakar Magaji, Ogwu James Onoja, Garuba Usman Tetengi, Henry Oghogho Ogbodu, Selekeowei Larry, Abenny Mohammed and Charles Nwanne Obishai.
Luke Chukwudi Illogu, Francis Chuks Agbu, Paul Ananaba, Ahmed Raji, Adekunle Theophilus Oyesanya, Rotimi Oluseyi Oguneso, Oluseyi Samuel Opasany were also successful.
Others are Aduroja Claudies Olumuyiwa, Aliyu Umar Illo Katune Samuel and Ndukwe Nnnawuchi.
It has been a long wait for Mr. Falana who was consistently spurned off by the administrators of the award on account of what many believed is his radical political views. The late Gani Fawehinmi was another radical lawyer so treated by the adminstrators of the SAN process.
Mr. Falana cut his teeth at the law offices of the former president of the Nigeria Bar Association, the late Alao Aka Bashorun, and worked for over a decade as lawyer to the great Afro beat muscian Fela Anikulapo Kuti. He also represented Fela’s brother Beko Ransome-Kuti in many human rights cases.
During the years of military dictatorship, Falana suffered intense deprivation in many detention centres across the country. It was a trajectory he had started as a student activist at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife where he was once the public Relations Officer of the Students’ Union. He was also an official of the radical Alliance of Progressive Students on campus and of the Patriotic Youth Movement of Nigeria, which led the campaign to reorganize the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, to a progressive youth front campaigning for the democratization of education on campuses.
Many lawyers and judges thought the award of the SAN to Mr. Falana was coming too late in the day for a man who has helped the development of the law as an advocate, solicitor, rights campaigner, and publisher of law reports and legal books. Conventional wisdom is that he was always by passed because the power circles administering the process found him
too far on the left.