Nigeria’s oldest practicing lawyer Pa Tunji Fortunatus Gomez is dead. The announcement was made at exactly 3:51 pm, Wednesday, by Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom on the branch’s Whatsapp platform.
The statement read: “It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of Pa Tunji Gomez. Pa Gomez was until his death yesterday night, the oldest practicing lawyer in Nigeria and a deeply loved member of the Premier Bar.
“The Branch had, in recognition of his excellent service and uncommon devotion to the Branch, celebrated his 90th birthday in style a few months ago.
“Our deepest condolences go to his immediate family. We will greatly miss Pa Gomez and pray that his soul will rest in perfect peace.
“We will make further announcements in due course.”
The announcement apparently threw the entire branch into a mourning mood, leading to a flurry of condolence messages.
Life Bencher, Lady Debbie Obodoukwu wrote: “Adieu great legal luminary. May your gentle soul rest in perfect peace.”
This was followed by another condolence message by Bar Leader, Mr. Zik Obi who wrote: “Oh my God! This is a very sad piece of news and his death is a great loss to the Branch and to all of us. Pa Gomez’s regular presence at our monthly meetings and other activities of the Branch was really an inspiration to many. May his soul rest in perfect peace, Amen.”
Others who also commented on the demise of the foremost lawyer are:
Tolani Edu-adeola: “The branch has lost a great man! May the soul PA Tunji Gomez rest in perfect peace. Amen.”
Marian Jones: “May his gentle soul rest in peace, Amen”
Anthony Atata: “One with God is majority” I first heard this from Tunji Gomez and ever since, I have adopted it. He was a good man. When we started Courtroom Mail in May 2009, we started with the story of the abolition movement which was the biggest story of that time. Tunji Gomez inspired me a lot; he told me how he started the first private newspaper in Lagos called Lagos Pax. I will miss what he says to me every NBA meeting: “Atata, where is your newspaper?” May his soul rest in peace.
Obele Akinniranye: “May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace and may perpetual light shine upon him, Amen.”
Emeka Nwadioke: “We do not mourn; we celebrate a great lawyer and a gentleman – a relentless and longstanding Bar activist, an iconoclastic jurist of the finest refinement. Rest, Pa Gomez. Rest, good pilgrim.”
Omoyemi Akangbe: “It is always sad when you lose someone with the stature and presence of Pa Gomez. He was by far one of the most passionate and committed member of our dear branch. May God almighty give his entire family the fortitude to bear this huge loss. We will continue to miss him. Adieu Pa Gomez.”
Popularly known by his sobriquet, “It’s a matter of conscience,” Pa Gomez was born in 1928 and 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.
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 is a longstanding advocate for the welfare especially of young lawyers. He is the author of the book: Guide to Happy Marriage.