By Sandra Umeh
Some lawyers on Thursday extolled the virtues of the late Mr Tunji Gomez, who until his death, was the oldest practising lawyer.
The death of Gomez, a life bencher, was announced on Wednesday by the Mr Chukwuka Ikwuazomon, Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch.
Gomez, who was also a renowned rights activist, was aged 90.
Human rights campaigner, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, said that Nigeria had lost a great nationalist and foremost activist.
“Coming in the mold of the first Nigerian lawyer, Alexander Sapara Williams, Pa Gomez was a man of honour, who stood for truth and justice all the time, and became famous for his principled lifestyle of “it is a matter of conscience’’.
“He was a faithful NBA member, who championed the democratisation by canvassing for an all-inclusive Bar.
“He always attended meetings and functions of the NBA, with a resolve to keep attending courts. Till his final breath, he did exactly that.
“Pa Gomez will be missed for his frankness, for his candour, and for his assertive roles in achieving equity in the Bar,” Adegboruwa said.
The Chairman of the Tax Appeal Tribunal, South-East Zone, Mr Chukwuemeka Eze, described Gomez as a quintessential advocate, indefatigable realist, defender of the weak, conscientious humanist and newsmaker.
Eze said that the deceased gave life his best shot and exploited his longevity to the fullest.
He said that the late Gomez was indomitable and would be sorely missed by all.
The immediate past Deputy Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, Enugu Campus, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN), said: “I join our legal community to mourn the passing of Pa Tunji Gomez.
“Pa Gomez made a tremendous impact in the Nigerian legal system. He defined his principles and lived by them.
“His presence on earth gave hope to so many persons in Nigeria that a fight for justice and fair play will never be in vain.
“Adieu Pa Gomez.”
Also, the Second Vice President of the NBA, Mr Onyekachi Ubani, described the death of Gomez as recalling of the conscience of the legal profession from active duty by the Almighty God.
“We will miss Pa Gomez greatly; I wish him eternal rest in the bosom of the lord,” Ubani said.
Gomez, who was born in 1928, enrolled into the King’s College, Lagos, in 1944.
His activism manifested early in life, as he was reputed to have led the 1948 protest in the college, which turned around the fortunes of students.
Gomez was part of the legal team that defended the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo during his treason trial in 1962.
Gomez was reputed to have instituted a class action on behalf of other lawyers in 2013, challenging an increase in practising fees of lawyers in Nigeria. He was famous for his principled lifestyle of: “It is a matter of conscience”.