The lawyer who was at the forefront of the fight to reinstate the use of hijab in public schools in Lagos State has died.
Gani Adetola-Kaseem, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, passed away in the early hours of Monday at the AB Specialist Hospital, Surulere, after a brief illness, the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) said in a statement.
He was 69.
Mr. Adetola-Kaseem was the lead counsel in the hijab controversy suit involving Moriam Oyeniyi and the MSSN against the Lagos State government.
An appeal court in 2016 overturned the judgment of a Lagos State High Court which banned the use of Hijab in public primary and secondary schools in the state.
The Lagos State government is currently at the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the appellate court.
Following the announcement of his death, hundreds of Muslims besieged the deceased residence in Lagos before his final burial in Ogun State, according to Islamic rites.
Abdurazak Salaudeen, the Chief Imam of ijebuland led a congregation of Muslims in a two-rakah janazah (special prayer for the deceased) at Egbe Central Mosque.
Speaking after his burial, the President of the MSSN in Lagos State, Saheed Ashafa, described the deceased as a promoter of justice and morality and a hero among Muslim students in Nigeria whose rights he consistently fought for before his death.
“The persistent pains, harassment, embarrassment and humiliation suffered by female Muslim students in Lagos State and some states in Nigeria for using hijab would not have been this relieved if not for a rare personality like Adetola-Kaseem, whom Allah used for fighting the cause for us without collecting a dime,” said Mr. Ashafa.
“His rare magnanimity in assisting the oppressed and developmental works in the society stands him out. About 18 months ago, he emerged victorious in the hijab case at the Court of Appeal. We pray that Allah who granted him the might to put smiles on the faces of millions of Muslims will accept his sacrifice and grant him Al-Janat Firdaus (heaven).”
Mr. Ashafa urged Muslim members of the body of benchers to emulate the late lawyer, urging that his legaciesbe sustained.
“Baba (Adetola-Kaseem) will be remembered for advocating for the cause of justice and the rights of Muslim students and women to wear hijab. This is a great lesson for individuals that whatsoever we put forth in the cause of Allah remain in our record.
“Adetola-Kaseem’s contributions to the struggle of hijab in Nigeria cannot be forgotten in a hurry. He stood by us throughout the litigation period on the case of hijab without collecting a dime as our lead counsel.
“Apart from the religious sphere, Nigeria and especially the legal profession have indeed lost an illustrious and enigmatic personality. Quite evident is the fact that in spite of all that he had been able to accomplish in his fulfilled life in the course of his practice as a lawyer and other selfless activities, he remained an epitome of modesty and humility, who never looked down on anybody.
“His passage is particularly painful for us in MSSN Lagos, for the roles he played in supporting actively our activities, including being a patron of the MSSN Lagos for more than ten years now. Adetola-Kaseem was an embodiment of morality. He never discussed schism but gives life-changing inspirational talks whenever youths were opportune to sit around him.”
Mr. Adetola-Kaseem, Principal Partner of Gani Adetola-Kaseem Legal Practice obtained his first and Masters degrees from the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1980 after passing the BL examination that year. He won Sir Lionel Brett’s best prize in Criminal Procedure and another prize in commercial law in that examination.
He was a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb) and a Member of the Nigeria Institute of Management (MNIM). He was also a member of the Nigeria Bar Association, Commonwealth Lawyers Association, and International Bar Association.
He established the law firm of Gani Adetola-Kaseem & Co. in June 1985 after retiring voluntarily from the Nigerian Federal Public Service as Under -Secretary. The firm has now metamorphosed to Gani Adetola-Kaseem (SAN) Legal Practice following a re-branding process.
Mr. Adetola-Kaseem was appointed a Notary Public in 1992, and elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2002.
He was a consultant to a number of institutions and conducted important negotiations on their behalf on employment-related matters.
He was legal adviser to several other health institutions. He was invited to be pioneer chairman of the Medical and Health Committee of the Section on Legal Practice of the Nigeria Bar Association between 2011 and 2014.
Few hours after his death, the MSSN, Lagos State Area Unit, named him ‘Hero of the People (HOP)’ for his role as lead counsel in the hijab case.