Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Activities marking the burial of late Justice Andrews Otutu Obaseki, the Obaseki of Benin Kingdom, began yesterday in Benin City, the Edo State capital, with a special valedictory court session at the state High Court.
The Obaseki who was a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria between 1977 and 1991, and also served as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria at various times, died on July 13, 2017 at his Benin City residence.
Speaking at the special valedictory session, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, who was represented by Justice Ejembi Ekpo, said Obaseki participated in 658 judgments comprising 126 lead judgments, 530 concurring judgments and two dissenting judgments while at the Supreme Court.
Justice Onnoghen said the deceased pronouncements set down ground breaking precedents in the area of the protection of citizens from extrajudicial acts of governments, the principle of fair hearing and natural justice.
Also speaking, Chief Judge of Edo State, Justice Esohe Frances Ikponmwen, described late Justice Obaseki as a colossus and giant that bestrode the bench from the lower rung to the apex court in Nigeria.
Justice Ikponmwen who was represented by Justice Ikponmwoba Ehigiamusoe also said late Justice Obaseki was a man of great letter and words.
Ikponmwen noted that it was fitting for Justice Obaseki to be honoured at the High Court complex because he ensured things were put in place for the judiciary when he was the Chief Justice of the Midwest-Western Region.
She further described him as a very calm and sober jurist who belonged to the golden generation of Supreme Court Justices.
“He was an administrator of the National Judicial Institute, a traditional chief. He had in his heart a compelling passion to accomplish justice. He possessed an indispensable mental capacity to translate that passion for justice into the actuality of fair, lucid and righteous judgement.
“He was on judge who showed this passion for justice so steadfastly and so indomitably. He revered the bench bringing to dignity. He took no short cut and made the full journey to the apex court,” she said.
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who is also a nephew of Justice Obaseki, recalled how the man he called daddy found one of his cousins guilty in a case he presided over as a show of respect for fairness and justice.
Obaseki disclosed that the ill-health suffered by his ‘daddy’ was as a result of the long hours of work done sitting down which he said gave him back ache.
He stated that he had the privilege of being around late Justice Obaseki from whom he learnt the values of truth, integrity, fairness and hard work.
Governor Obaseki also pledged to provide good working environment for the judiciary in line with his electoral promise.
“He stood for the truth. He told us about integrity. He was an epitome of fairness and taught us to work hard. He also emphasized education. “We are greatful for those values everybody talked about.
“We understand the role of Justice. We will ensure we give the judiciary is dues. We understand what it means to have a good court system. We know what it means to make judges in a conducive environment,” Obaseki stated.