Femi Falana

SAN, LL.B, B.L, FCI, Arb

Femi Falana, SAN is a distinguished legal practitioner who has been actively engaged in the practice of law since his call to the Nigerian Bar in July 1982. He obtained his Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from the prestigious University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and subsequently completed his legal education at the Nigerian Law School. Femi Falana is a leading advocate for human rights and international humanitarian law. He has consistently championed the defence and promotion of these crucial principles throughout Africa, placing himself at the forefront of the struggle for a more just and equitable continent.  Currently, he serves as the Principal Partner at Falana & Falana’s Chambers.

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Legal Practice and Senior Advocacy

Femi Falana's legal career commenced in the late 1970s. He rapidly established himself as a leading expert in labour and workers' rights. His practice encompasses a diverse range of legal matters, encompassing both civil and criminal cases. A fervent advocate for justice and human rights, Mr. Falana's exceptional contributions to the legal profession culminated in his elevation to the esteemed rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Human Rights Champion in Africa

Mr. Falana stands at the vanguard of the struggle for the defence and promotion of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Africa. Beyond his extensive experience in Nigerian courts, he has represented victims of human rights abuses before various international tribunals including the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (Banjul, The Gambia), the Community Court of Justice (Abuja, Nigeria), the Special Court for Sierra Leone (Freetown, Sierra Leone), and the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (Arusha, Tanzania).

Authorship and Public Intellectual

A prolific writer and commentator, Mr. Falana has authored numerous articles and publications addressing legal, political, and human rights issues in Nigeria. His insightful writings not only educate the public but also serve to critique and challenge the status quo, contributing significantly to the discourse on governance and accountability in Nigeria.

Public Interest Litigation

Mr. Falana has made significant contributions to the advancement of human rights and the expansion of democratic space in Africa. He has spearheaded successful campaigns for the enactment of welfare laws that benefit the majority of underprivileged citizens. His dedication to human rights activism demonstrably led to his arrest and detention by former military dictators between 1984 and 1998. Despite facing charges of unlawful assembly, incitement, sedition, and treasonable felony, Mr. Falana was never convicted of any offense.

Protection of Socio-Economic Rights

Mr. Falana's pursuit of social justice extends beyond political and civil rights. He has been instrumental in securing the recognition and protection of socio-economic rights for the Nigerian people through both local and international tribunals. Through his advocacy, Nigerian courts have upheld crucial rights, including: • The right to protest without a police permit. • The right of policewomen to marry without restriction. • The right of every Nigerian child to free and compulsory basic education. • The right of undergraduates to access education loans. • The right of underprivileged citizens to obtain business loans without collateral. • The right of citizens to protection and security of life. • The right of people in oil-producing communities of the Niger Delta region to a safe and healthy environment.

Safeguarding Rights and Ensuring Justice

During periods when successive military regimes suspended human rights provisions in the Nigerian Constitution, Mr. Falana successfully persuaded Nigerian courts to uphold the fundamental rights guaranteed to Nigerians by the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. He also played a pivotal role in expanding the mandate of the Community Court of Justice to encompass the enforcement of human rights for member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In recognition of his exceptional human rights work, Mr. Falana is one of only four African lawyers to receive the prestigious Bernard Simons Award from the International Bar Association.

Human Rights Activism

Mr. Falana has established a distinguished record of human rights activism. He achieved a landmark victory in 1989 by successfully securing the reprieve of twelve children sentenced to execution by a military tribunal in Lagos for armed robbery charges. His unwavering commitment to justice extends to numerous other successful challenges, including: • Resisting the military junta's takeover of the Nigerian Bar Association. • Opposing the proscription of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the criminalization of teacher strikes. • Combatting the practice of arresting and detaining family members in place of wanted criminal suspects. • Challenging the indefinite suspension of legislators from legislative houses. Mr. Falana's tireless efforts have resulted in the release of hundreds who were illegally detained. He has also championed the reinstatement of numerous dismissed students and staff from various tertiary institutions. Furthermore, his interventions have secured reprieves for countless soldiers who faced charges, convictions, and potential execution by military courts.

Membership and Professional Affiliation

In addition to his distinguished service on the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association and the General Bar Council, Mr. Falana has held prominent leadership positions within various legal organizations. These include: • President, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (1996-1998) • Secretary-General, African Bar Association (2000-2002) • President, West African Bar Association (2004-2009) Mr. Falana's extensive legal expertise is further recognized through his memberships in the following esteemed organizations: • Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) • Fellow, Institute of Chartered Arbitrators of Nigeria • Fellow, Institute of Chartered Public Administrators of Nigeria • Nigerian Bar Association • International Bar Association • Pan African Lawyers Union

Consulting and Publications

Mr. Falana's contributions extend beyond legal practice. He serves as a consultant to the Presidential Committee Against Corruption, demonstrating his commitment to good governance. He is also a highly sought-after commentator on public affairs, sharing his insights through various platforms. These include: • Editor-in-Chief, Weekly Report of Nigeria • Member of the Editorial Board, Vanguard Newspaper Mr. Falana's dedication to legal scholarship is evident through his active involvement with organizations such as: • Network for the Defence of Journalists in West Africa • International Centre for Investigative Journalism • Justice Research Institute He is also a member of the African Group on Justice and Accountability, further solidifying his commitment to promoting justice and accountability across the continent.

AWARDS Received