By Umar Muhammad Puma
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday said he received with a deep feeling of immense national loss, news of the passing away yesterday of Justice Chukwudifu Oputa.
According to a press statement, issued by his spokesman, Dr. Rueben Abati, “On behalf of himself, the Federal Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the President extends sincere condolences to the eminent jurist’s family, relatives, associates and friends.
As they mourn the passage of the retired Justice of the Supreme Court who will always be remembered, amongst other career highlights, for his celebrated chairmanship of Nigeria’s Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission 14 years ago, President Jonathan urges them to be comforted by the knowledge that Justice Oputa lived a long, very fulfilled and achievement-laden life.
The President believes that Justice Oputa will always be honoured now and in posterity for having served the nation as a most distinguished and courageous jurist who made very significant and indelible contributions to the advancement of Nigerian jurisprudence.
He prayed that God Almighty will receive Justice Oputa’s soul and grant him a well-deserved rest from his diligent and exemplary labours on earth.
Similarly, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has described the passage of renown Jurist, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, as a great loss to the Nigerian Federation.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal said the deceased distinguished himself in both his public and private lives.
According to him, Justice Oputa can be described as the Lord Denning of Nigerian judiciary. “He was an articulate jurist and the master of the rules. If you call him the Father of criminal justice law in Nigeria you won’t be wrong.
“For me, whenever matters of procedural and substantive law are mentioned, his name will come tops. He was never a concurist but a resolute and independent-minded justice, who elevated the defence of democracy, human rights and rule of law to an art. We will all miss him,” the Speaker added.
In the same vein, former Vice-President and chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) Atiku Abubakar yesterday described the late retired Supreme Court Justice, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa as an extraordinary jurist with extraordinary pedigree.
In a tribute to Oputa issued by his media office in Abuja, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said the death of the retired Supreme Court Justice was like a huge branch being cut off from the nation’s judicial iroko tree.
According to him, apart from his extraordinary courage, the late Oputa was also a man of profound knowledge on account of which he was famously branded the “Socrates of the Supreme Court.”
He explained that for Oputa to earn this appellation from colleagues was a demonstration of his erudition and colossal stature.
Atiku recalled that with no less than 358 judgements and rulings under his belt, the late Oputa was a giant of law not only in Nigeria, but also in the rest of Africa.
The former Vice President prayed for the repose of the late Oputa and condoled with his family on this irreparable loss.
Also, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), in his tribute to late Justice Oputa, said the late jurist was until his death, one of Nigeria’s foremost legal icons who served the legal profession, the country and humanity with characteristic candour, courage and dedication. The legal profession and the country will surely miss him.
“My thoughts are with the Oputa family at these difficult and challenging moments. I hereby join millions of his well-wishers across the length and breadth of this country and beyond, in praying to the Almighty God for the repose of his soul. I also pray the Almighty God to grant the family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss”, he stated.