Reactions have continued to pour in over the demise on Sunday of great jurist and legend, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, with Governors Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Theodore Orji (Abia), Adams Oshiomhole (Edo) and people of his home town, Oguta, mourning him.
Similarly, some Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, Chief Jude Nnodum and Prince Ken Njemanze, have described the jurist’s death as “a huge loss to the legal profession.”
President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed condolences to the family of the late justice of the Supreme Court Justice, Oputa.
Jonathan condoles with family
In a statement, yesterday, by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, Jonathan said he “received with a deep feeling of immense national loss, news of the passing away of Justice Oputa.
“On behalf of himself, the Federal Government and people of the Federation, the President extends sincere condolences to the eminent jurist’s family, relatives, associates and friends.
“He prays that God Almighty will receive Justice Oputa’s soul and grant him a well-deserved rest from his diligent and exemplary labours on earth.”
He was a pathfinder—Mark
Senate President, David Mark, described the late erudite Justice Oputa as the pathfinder, who charted the road map for the nation’s judicial system.
In his tribute by his Special Adviser, Mark noted the unquantifiable contributions of the late jurist to the economic and socio-political development of Nigeria and lamented that a huge vacuum had been created with his death.
He said: “He was one of Nigeria’s best and foremost judicial officers. His land mark judgments are eloquent testimonies to this. He was a judicial officer per excellence. He remains a reference point on virtually all judicial matters.”
He urged Nigerians especially the Oputa family to take solace in the fact that their patriarch lived an accomplished life worthy of emulation.
Nigeria’s formost legal icon.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, SAN, commiserated with the family of the late Justice Oputa, describing him as “Nigeria’s formost legal icon.”
In a statement, Adoke noted that the late jurist, until his death, “served the legal profession, the country and humanity with characteristic candour, courage and dedication.”
Similarly, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, in a statement by its National President, Chief Okey Wali, SAN, stressed that the late Justice Oputa not only bestrode the legal firmament of Nigeria like a colossus, but also exhibited impeccable character, integrity, learning and professionalism.
“Justice was famously described by the Bar and the Bench as the Socrates of the Nigerian legal profession. He was indeed one of the best legal minds the Nigerian legal profession has ever produced. The legal profession and the nation have lost a rare gem.”
The Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ekweremadu, described the death of the former Supreme Court judge, Justice Opita, as “a sad and an unquantifiable loss.”
On his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, described the passage of Justice Oputa, as a great loss to the Nigerian federation.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Tambuwal said the deceased distinguished himself in both public and private life.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, described Justice Oputa as an exceptional jurist, who sacrificed his time, knowledge and energy for Nigeria and the rule of law, just as he remarked that his judgments have stood the test of time.
Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State and Chairman South East Governors’ Forum, lamented the death of late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, describing his death as a big loss to Nigeria in general and Ndigbo in particular.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, on his part, commiserated with the government and people of Imo State on the death of Justice Oputa.
The Oguta community in Imo State, the ancestral home of late Justice Oputa, is now wearing a mournful look.
Reacting to the news, the traditional ruler of Oguta, Eze Nani Nzeribe, said: “We thank God for him. He played his role for his community, the Catholic Church, Imo State and Nigeria. There is no way the history of Nigeria and indeed, the justice delivery system will be written without the mention of Justice Oputa.”
The Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egbam, SAN, in his tribute described the exit of Justice Oputa as the departure of a forthright, fearless judge.
Chief Jude Nnodum, SAN and former Attorney General of Imo State, said: “Justice Oputa’s death is a huge loss to the legal profession and to the nation. He served this country meritoriously as a High Court Judge, a state Chief Judge and a Justice of the Supreme Court, and in other respects after retiring from the Bench.”