One of the oldest Nigerian lawyers, Pa Tunji Fortunatus Gomez is dead. His death was announced on Wednesday afternoon by Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom on the branch’s Whatsapp platform.
Early this year, Lagos Branch of the NBA is rolled out the red carpet to Pa Gomez who turned 90 years on March 18, 2018. He was born in 1928.
Gomez was admitted to the English Bar in 1961, about 57 years ago. He was a bar activist who is reputed for his courage and candour. He was reputed to attend the meetings of Lagos branch regularly even at the ripe old age of 90.
As an activist, he championed founding of the Movement for the Abolition of the Rank of SAN (MARSAN), contending that the process for the award of the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria was riddled with irregularities and that the rank had outlived its usefulness. He was later appointed a life member of the Body of Benchers, the highest authority on Nigerian lawyers.
He was enrolled into King’s College, Lagos in 1944. His activism manifested early in his eventful life, as he is reputed to have led the 1948 strike at the College which significantly turned around the fortunes of the students.
This early brush with constituted authority also sowed the seed of his career choice, following the pro bono legal services offered the striking students by one Alex Taylor Esquire.
Though a junior lawyer then, Pa Gomez was part of the legal team that defended late Chief Obafemi Awolowo during his celebrated treason trial in 1962.
He is also reputed as the first lawyer to sue the Military Government in Nigeria in the celebrated case of Madam Shapara vs. Lagos State Government.
An avid yoga practitioner, Pa Gomez was a longstanding advocate for the welfare especially of young lawyers.