Mohammed Fawehinmi accident created a panic. he told the whole story in this interview reproduced by ENigeria.
Mohammed Fawehinmi is the eldest son of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, a late radical Lagos lawyer who died a few years ago. Mohammed, his son, was not only a practicing lawyer in his GANI FAWEHINMI Chambers in Anthony Village, Lagos, before his death, but he was also the deputy head of chambers and the heir apparent to the Fawehinmi dynasty.
Unfortunately, he was involved in a car accident, which kept him glued to the wheelchair ever since.
In this interview with SEYE KEHINDE, he talks about his car accident and how his father, who is normally a strong man, broke down and cried when he saw him on his sickbed in London.
How did you start practicing with your late dad before he died?
On the 21st of February, 1969, I was born in Lagos, LUTH precisely. My father was detained when I was born.
It felt as if I was the cause of the family’s terrible luck with jail. I attended K Kotun Memorial School in Surulere before moving on to St. Saviours School in Ebute Metta, GCL, and finally Federal Government College in Sokoto.
I returned to UNILAG to study Business Administration, after which I moved on to the University of Buckingham to study Law. I went to law school, returned, and began working with my father.
Why didn’t you do law as your first degree…
Haaa! I was terrified. I was looking for methods to get around that man, because working with someone like that requires seriousness and preparation.
It required a lot of guts to do it. Because he was waiting for me to come and work with him, it took a lot of support from others to do that eventually.
You can’t get away from me here, he must have thought to himself. There is no way around it; you must study and practice law.
You’re the firstborn, so you can’t get away from me here. There’s no way you’re going anywhere.
When I finally decided to pursue law, I realized that the last days of my life would be spent in law school. As a result, I played as much as I wanted.
I obtained my certificate right away and handed it to him; he shook my hand and handed me my letter of employment, with a starting salary of N5,000.
That was in the year 1998. After nearly two years of practice, he was able to increase to N8, 000. When I went to buy the car with which I had my accident, people questioned, “How can you be the deputy head of chambers and make N8, 000?” So he wrote a letter saying that was an old letter and that he had upped it to N23,000.
They had calculated it and had given me permission to travel. Haaa! It was difficult to live with Chief. With him, I had to learn the hard way, working with Chief.
I was required to work seven days a week. He’ll tell me you’re a Muslim, on Sundays g o ahead and open the chambers, my friend. I don’t agree with what this useless man Obasanjo said, but we must resist it. So I’ll go to the office through Mr. BIGGS.
I am always the first customer because they open at 6.45 a.m. I go to the Chamber with my donought, meatpie, and drinks everything before going to work on the files for next week.
I’ll turn on the computers at 10 a.m. to warm them up. After worship, his personal Confidential Secretary, Mr. Agbo, will arrive, and the other Christians lawyers will resume too.
Those that are Muslims will be there already. As a result, there is always a full session. We need to make sure the originating summons is ready because Adindu will undoubtedly go and file on Monday, even if he is sick.
We need to make sure the originating summons is ready because Adindu will undoubtedly go and file on Monday, even if he is sick.
There is no failure for whoever is going to argue the case, the moment Adindu returns, whoever is taking must go and seek that order of court on Monday with Chief. He can’t stand failure at all. That is why every lawyer who has been through him is now considered fortunate.
They’re all multi-millionaire or billionaire businesspeople. Nothing in law is too difficult for them to manage because he has seen them through the worst of situations in the Chambers. That’s how I learned, too, the hard way.
Either you learn the hard way or you leave and make sure he doesn’t find you. If he does, you will be punished. He feels that once he assigns you a task, you must complete it. There is no such thing as a second chance. There is no room for mistakes.
Two lawyers were dismissed. They were paid at the entrance. They were not permitted to return to the Chambers.
Cumulatively he trained 245 of us (Lawyers). Some of them have passed away. Some of them are still living. Judges are among them. Senior Advocates are also among them.
Where did late Gani Fawehinmi get his toughness from? Do you know?
He, too, had to deal with adversity. His father was also a wealthy man. When his father died, he had to face that harshness.
He got a glimpse of the other side of life. As a result, he realized that toughness was the only way to survive. You will be left behind if you are not tough. With that hardness, he abandoned his social life to focus solely on his job.
It was only after his mother’s involvement that he began wearing indigenous apparels. He was constantly dressed in English attire. When he goes to an event where everyone is wearing aso oke, he will dress up in a suit.
It’s embarrassing, she said to him. And they will say your mum is there looking at you. Your mother used to be a strong market woman who was well-versed in all of this. So his mother urged him to give my mother money so she could go out and buy brocade and lace, and she would sew everything together.
Can you tell us a bit about your accident and what lessons have you learnt?
The first thing I learned from my accident was to always wear a seat belt. Around 9.35 p.m., I shuttered the chambers.
I was returning home and stayed in one of Chief’s flats at Ajao Estate. As a result, I buckled up. And my car’s seat belt is designed so that once you wear it, the seat itself sinks in, making you quite comfy. I was dozing on the way from the small airport to the international airport.
When the car approaches the culvert, it emits a beeping sound, which wakes me up. I told myself that if I kept driving like this, I’d end up climbing culvert ooo without even realizing it, so I unbuckled my seatbelt and started driving.
When I reached the NAHCO area, I turned left to get to Ajao Estate in Oshodi. I now have no idea what happened. I guess I fell asleep in the car, and it skidded off the road because there was diesel on the road about where those Conoil tankers are parked, and they always leak diesel on the main road.
As a result, my car began to skid. When I applied the brakes, it did not stop. My carle has now collided with the Conoil. I flew right over a mallam who regularly sleeps pretty close to the culvert there.
I had that Wayo, as the Hausas say, but I had no idea where it originated. When the car landed, it was at the quadrangle where they check for fuel. The car came to a halt because of this.
While I was still thanking God, the airbag deployed and pinned me to the seat. It was the side airbag that popped open and dislocated my neck. Everything went lifeless after roughly 2 minutes of struggling from the neck down.
I didn’t move from where I was. After a while, I heard some area boys saying he has a bag in his car. Lets steal it. Don’t you know that guy? He is a Lawyer. There must be money in it.
Then I noticed a Naval officer, Mr. Blessing Irabor. He was dressed in white, approached me and pierced the airbags at this point. He dragged me out and gently placed me on the floor.
My gaze was drawn to the silencer. Silencer was no longer active. I said, “See life,” because fuel was leaking. See Mohammed laying helpless on the floor with petrol pouring down on him, he placed me in the back seat of a taxi.
Dr. Ore Falomo’s Maryland Specialist Hospital was now my destination in the taxi. Dr. Ore Falomo recognized me right away. He checked me and told me I had a Spinal Chord problem. He recommended that they transport me to the Igbobi Orthopaedic Hospital. They informed both my father and mother.
Then I was scheduled for an X-ray. That’s when they began nudging and pulling, which is something they’re not supposed to do.
Usually, after a spinal chord injurye, a spray is normally sprayed on the area where the chord is located, and then a neck cast is applied. That was not the case. We didn’t have an emergency service at the time, so my father arrived two days later because he was in Ondo at the time. He then went to the British Embassy and secured a VISA for me.
On a Saturday morning, we arrived in England. We left on Friday, so I went for MIR, scan, and X-Ray on Saturday morning. Dr. claimed he couldn’t see anything when he checked; all he saw was blood, so he had to operate.
That’s when my father started crying. I began staring at him and exclaimed, “Haha, look at this tough guy ooo.”
So, this dude can cry? My dearest sister, a medical doctor, was also in tears. My mother was the only one who was praying. I was dragged into the surgical room. Mr. Monti Chursky was the doctor’s name.
He stated that he had progressed beyond the level of Consultant and had returned back to Mr. He had a 13-man team put together in 2 to 3 minutes.
The annestiologist was a white guy who grew up in Ibadan. So he was talking to me in hard core Ibadan. I said haba, I’m already dead. Who am I going to confront next ooo? (laughs) He tapped me on the shoulder and said, “It’s real ooo.” You’re not dead at all, ooo.
I’m not sure if he was listening in on my thoughts. He told me to simply relax because it was only a minor issue. I slept off after he shot me with an injection. The procedure lasted four hours. I was wheeled out. The surgeon was covered in blood. They wheeled in the next patient and he picked one green apple and ate it. They eventually taught me how to operate the wheelchair. I departed on April 16th and returned on April 17th. Since then, I’ve been attempting to adjust.
How did you feel when they told you about the sad news that you have a spinal cord injury?
Haaa! I was demoralised.
Because it was not what I had anticipated. In reality, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) file was in my boot. That was the case I was supposed to work on the following day. I recently completed my submission, edited it, packaged it, and placed it in the boot. They were unable to obtain the file and were forced to adjourn.
They were able to find someone to do it in the end. It was the case that I kept recalling throughout. I was considering returning to that case as soon as possible but someone else had to do it, as God would have it.
How did your Dad, Chief take the news of your spinal chord injury?
Haa! Initially, he took it badly. I must tell, he took it quite severely. He must, however, continue as a man. They wanted to give him a doctorate award at the University of Ife . So he had to leave for Nigeria. He went to get it, and then he began work on the Nigerian Law Publication building in Lagos.
It took nearly three years for Gov. Fashola, who erected the first statute, to finish it before Gov. Ambodes’ statute arrived on the scene to help us properly open it. As a result, we began to handle the majority of operations from there.
How did you take all the pressures of a restless Mohammed who now had to be confined to a wheelchair?
It’s been difficult, but I’ve gotten a lot of help from my younger brother, Saheed Fawehinmi, who has been with me the majority of the time and has taken care of most of the things I needed to do.
I’ll just tell him we have to do something, and he’ll go ahead and do it. It’s helped me a little, and with a little counseling, it’s helped me a lot. Haa! It took some time for me to adjust, but I realized that I needed to step in if I didn’t want things to scatter. Fortunately, all of my female siblings are married, so that takes a lot of pressure off of me.
There are a total of eight of them. They, too, have reached adulthood. Only the final one is left, Aisha. She is between the ages of 11 and 12.
NB: Mohammed Fawehinmi died in Nigeria on Wednesday night. ENigeria Newspaper published this interview as a homage to the fiery crusader and Lagos lawyer, who is the first son of late Lagos lawyer and luminary, Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
Mohammed Fawehinmi accident…