Femi Falana SAN born May 20th, 1958 is a Nigerian Lawyer and human rights activist. He is the father of Falz, a popular Nigerian rapper, singer, online comedian and actor and husband to Nigerian women’s rights activist Funmi Falana.
He is a native of Ilawe, Ekiti state, Nigeria. He attended St. Michael’s Primary School, Ilawe, between 1963 and 1968. When he concluded his primary school, Femi attended Sacred Heart Catholic Seminary between 1971 and 1975.
Femi later gained admission into the University of Ife Now, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, where he studied law between 1977 and 1981. He was called to the bar a year after. In the year 1991, Femi Falana Floated his own Chambers which he then called Femi Falana but later changed to become Falana and Falana Chambers, having his wife Funmi as a partner.
By the standard of living in Ekiti then a part of the present Ondo State in the 50s, his father was well to do and he therefore could have lived comfortably even without activism. But the passion to defend the less privileged was too strong for him to resist; it is the way he wants to live his life. And though he once contemplated it, he decided to opt out of the opportunity to take an oath of celibacy as a Catholic priest, coupled with the fact that he could not
watch other people suffer where he lived; this led him to ‘marry the Law”.
From there he took interest in Constitutional criticism with the intention of correcting the anomalies in the society. In the course of doing that, he had to go through hard times of arrests, detentions, charges of treason in the course of fighting for the masses. But mind you, it was this hard way that has led to his success and fulfilment today. Falana has always been like this: vocal, fighting for the cause of others.
Even as a student leader at the then University of Ile Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, he stood his ground against oppression from the successive military governments. He started his legal practice in 1982. Barely a year with that even as a youth corps member, he handled the case of 7 University of Ibadan students who were arrested for protesting for their rights.
He succeeded in securing their freedom and he became a human rights activist as early as 1983 when he took bail for the students who had been unlawfully remanded in prison custody. Falana revealed that this incident led to his not being issued a discharge certificate by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) after his one year mandatory national service. In July 2001, Falana petitioned the Justice Oputa led Human Rights Panel set up by the then Obasanjo administration over his withheld certificate but the NYSC denied that the certificate had been intentionally withheld and instead averred that it was Falana who had not requested for it.
The certificate was subsequently released to him on live television at the commission’s sitting in 2001. The certificate was released 18 years after the
completion of his service. Even as an activist, Falana is renowned for providing free legal services to the poor and disadvantaged and had suffered long spells in detention under Nigeria’s past military dictators for his activism and he has won numerous awards locally and internationally for the same cause. He contested and lost the governorship election of Ekiti State in 2007 on the ticket of the National Conscience Party; as of 2011 he was the National Chairman of the party.
For his legal prowess, he was conferred with the rank, Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2012. Femi has published may articles, papers and books including – Fundamental Rights Enforcement, Legaltext Publishing Company 2005 (251 pages), Legal and Policy Framework of Occupational Health and Safety in Nigeria in Idowu Awopetu et al (eds) (1998), WORKING IN DANGER, P. 52, a CDHR Publication, Editor-in-Chief, Weekly Report of Nigeria;
Femi Falana belongs to many Professional Memberships and held various leadership positions such as President, West African Bar Association, Member, Nigerian Bar Association and Member, West African Bar Association, Member, Pan African Lawyers Union and Member, International Bar Association. Mr Femi Falana ia a recipient of National and International Awards / Honour. some of which are: “Defender of the year Award” from the international league for Human Rights in 2000; The Ogoni merit award – 2002; Dr Kwame Nkrumah leadership award 2003; and Bernard Simon memorial award for the advancement of human rights- 2003.
Falana & Falana’s Chambers is a leading law firm in constitutional law and human rights services. His firm has also represented many victims of human rights violation in Nigerian Courts and the ECOWAS Community Court.
On Sunday, 20th may, 2018, the Iconic activist clocked 60 and was celebrated by many far and wide.