- Dignitaries eulogise legal luminary
Tobi Soniyi and Paul Obi in Abuja
The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, were among dignitaries who attended the service of songs for the late Minister of State for Labour and Employment, James Ocholi, his wife, Blessing and son, Joshua in Abuja wednesday.
The church service which was presided over by Archbishop Sam Amaga of the Foundation Faith Church had in attendance several other dignitaries who came to pay their late homage to the Ocholis.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, read the second reading from the book of 1 Thessalonians, Chapter four, from Verse 13 to 18.
Paying his tribute to the late minister, Osinbajo explained that the “legal profession lost one of its shining stars,” eulogising the legal luminary for his many contributions to the party and the nation at large.
The vice-president described Ocholi as “selfless,” adding: “His acceptance to serve as a deputy legal adviser to a junior in the profession confirms his humility.”
According to Osinbajo, Ocholi “was a man of God, fair in character, but confronted the reality of death.”
He also comforted the children of Ocholi, urging them to remain firm and steadfast and look up to the Lord for consolation.
Other dignitaries who attended the event include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir David Lawal, Minister of Labour and Employment, Sennation Chris Ngige, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN).
Speaking at the event, Ngige said the legacies left behind by the late minister were good ones and would forever be remembered.
“I have known him before we started working together; we were together in the party, APC.
“He was our deputy legal adviser and was also a member of the merger committee which I also belong.
“I have also known him as a lawyer and working together in the Ministry of Labour and Employment was a home coming to both of us.
“We were already friends and we had to pilot the affairs of the ministry together.
“Our main goal in the ministry was to bring change that will benefit the Nigerian workers and the society as a whole,’’ he said.
He said Ocholi’s departure would not be forgotten in a hurry.
In his remarks, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Ayba Wabba, said Ocholi had left his indelible footprints in the sands of time.
Wabba described Ocholi as one of Nigeria’s brightest and finest minds who was cut down alongside his family members when his star was in the ascendancy.
“It is with a grief-stricken heart that I perform, arguably, one of the most difficult tasks as the President of the NLC.
“As Ocholi’s death is an unspeakable tragedy that numb the senses and he left no one in doubt that he was a trusted ally of labour.
“Indeed, Ocholi’s knowledge of labour laws, industrial relations practice and his eagerness to work with social partners in the labour circuit raised hope for the labour movement,’’ he said.
The NLC president also described Ocholi as a legal luminary, an urbane, highly cultivated person and an invaluable asset in government-labour relations.
“What a shame death has robbed us of this priceless and irreplaceable gem. How can we come to terms with this? It is ever so difficult.
“The least we can do in memory of this illustrious son is to imbibe his noble qualities. We should also go a step further to immortalise him by naming worthy edifice or institution after him. “Fare thee well, my friend and my brother, Mr. James Ocholi, (SAN),’’ Wabba added.
Also, eminent jurists praised the deceased minister for his exemplary integrity and hard work.
“Ocholi was such an icon; from a humble beginning he grew and became a colossus in the legal profession and Nigeria,’ Justice Mohammed said.
For the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Justice Babatunde Adejumo, Ocholi’s brilliance and hard work to the advancement of law and legal jurisprudence earned him the prestigious rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 2007.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) who was represented by the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mr.Taiwo Abidogun described the deceased Labour Minister as a “community leader, philanthropist and icon of the legal profession in the country.
“Despite our individual and collective loss, we are consoled by his enduring legacies of hard work and excellence which defined his life. He will be sorely missed at the Federal Executive Council for a long time to come,” Malami submitted.
On his part, President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Augustine Alegeh (SAN), bemoaned the tragic demise of Ocholi, his wife and son.
Alegeh commended the deceased minister for conquering the existential barriers that fate threw at him following the death of his father while at High School.
“Ocholi was a lawyer of high repute who committed his life to the cause of justice for the downtrodden.
“He showed immense integrity and hard work in every endeavour he participated. We will sorely miss him,” Alegeh lamented.