Mohammed Faweyinmi, first son of the late legal icon, Chief Gani Faweyinmi, opens up on the pains of accessing the courtrooms in this interview with DAYO OKETOLA
How would you describe your experience accessing the courtrooms?
I have had a lot of constraints in accessing the courtrooms, but I had to adapt by getting people to carry me up the stairs because I am very passionate about the practice of law. And if I have to improvise to get it done, I don’t mind. Though I would have expected that the government would have done something about it because we are in the democratic dispensation and everything should be done in a globally compliant manner.
Do you feel disappointed that you have to be carried into the courtrooms for you to do your job?
I feel very disappointed. I feel particularly disgusted. A former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, in 2013 promised that he would make sure that the elevators at Tafawa Balewa Square, where the courts are, were repaired. When I checked probably a year later and he didn’t do anything about it, I wrote a letter to him and he told me it would take them about 55 weeks to repair the elevators, I thought that was a bit ridiculous. I just thought to myself that we have to make do with what we have, because a lot of businesses run in this country by providing their own energy, so we have to provide our own convenience if we are really interested in practising law. I am sorry to say, the former administration was not interested in helping anyone living with disability. But with President Muhammadu Buhari, I believe that there will be changes. I will write again to remind the government of the situation.
Is it the disability that limits the performance of a lawyer with disabilities or environmental barrier in the courts?
It depends on which way you look at it. For me, once a lawyer can read and assimilate and can also proffer logical arguments, I don’t see any restraint. For me, the weather at times affects me, but I find drugs that can modify that from my doctor and I have been able to cope so far.
Are you aware that a disability bill was passed into law during the administration of the former President Goodluck Jonathan?
Yes, I am aware
But he didn’t accent the bill; what is your opinion about it?
The former president was not always attending to himself let alone attending to the people with disabilities. He was not really focused as a president. I don’t think he really understood what that job entailed. We could see from the crop of ministers we had, the policies they made, all sorts of lies, leading to embezzlement and so on. All we were just waiting for was for him to just step out of that place, for someone more serious, who understands the business to come in and do the job, and I am happy that Buhari is here.
As a member of the PWD community, what is your expectation from the Buhari government? Do you think he should accent the disability law?
Yes I think he should. I think the National Assembly members themselves should look into it. We hope that they have stopped the childish fight they were having. I saw one of the House of Representatives members talking about juicy committees. It seems he doesn’t even understand what is going on. They are all just there to loot, get rich and get out of the place. Under the leadership of the House Speaker, we expect something good from the lawmakers.
Do you think lawyers without disabilities are sympathetic to the pains you are going through doing your job?
A lot of them cooperate with me and I get a lot of admiration and appreciation from most of them. So, for me, I am grateful to God. I get words of encouragement from them. Those are the things that spur me on and keep me going on apart from the fact that I have passion for the job.