Senate mourns Ibru as judiciary extols Ocholi’s virtues



• Nigeria grateful to Ibru family, says Ekweremadu
Reviewing  his contributions to the development of Nigeria’s parliamentary democracy , the Senate yesterday submitted that the late Senator Felix Ibru played immense roles in the promotion of patriotism, private sector development and building and sustaining national development, unity and peace.

In a related development, the Michael and Cecilia Ibru Foundation, founder of the Michael and Cecilia University, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, has suspended the 2016 founder’s day.

In statement yesterday, the foundation mourned Felix Ibru, the immediate younger brother of “our founder, Olorogun Michael C. O Ibru, who passed on at the age of 80.
“In honour of his memory, we wish to inform all our invitees that all activities for the 2016 Foundation Day as per our invitations are put on hold. We will communicate the new dates to you in due course.’ ’

Adopting a two-prayer motion sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central), and two others titled ‘‘ The Late Distinguished Senator Felix Ovuodoroye Ibru’’, the Senate observed a minute silence in honour of the late senator and mandated a delegation to condole with the family , the people and government of Delta State and also to participate in the funeral.

Meanwhile, leading lights in the nation’s judiciary have described the late Minister of State for Labour and employment, James Ocholi as one of the finest lawyers in the country.

Taking turns to pay him tributes in Abuja yesterday at a valedictory session at the National Industrial Court, most speakers said humility and diligence for hard work were his hallmarks.

While some referred to the deceased as one of the “most illustrious and distinguished legal icons in Nigeria”, others noted he was “a thoroughbred professional and judicial advocate.”

Debate on the Ibru motion provided opportunities for senators to voice out their knowledge and their shared experience with the late senator with the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu , going down memory lane . He said:” I met Felix Ibru during the 5th Senate and we remained friends since then. He left the Senate in 2007 but the Senate, born in him, never left him. He always showed concern and as a senator, brought in a lot of experience and wisdom in the conduct of his work. But most importantly, he was a calming influence on the Senate and senators at that time.

“Of course we need to thank him and the rest of his family for their contributions to private sector development in Nigeria from The Guardian Newspaper Limited, Sheraton , Ibru Fish to so many other things.

They developed and employed thousands of Nigerians and I believe that should be the example he is leaving behind to fellow Nigerians that the only way we can drive our economy and make Nigeria better is for the private sector to thrive.

“I would like to thank people like Dangote that followed the same footsteps as the Ibru family because when we have enough people like them in Nigeria I am sure a lot of things will improve .”

Also contributing, Senator Abubakar Gumel (Jigawa North) noted that he met Felix Ibru during the Constituent Assembly in 1988-1989 during which the Sharia controversy arose.

“Fortunately enough, Senator Ibru and about 10 other Nigerians together with the chairman, Hon. Justice Onyiagulu, met with the then President Ibrahim Babaginda and the following week the Sharia discussions were taken away and became a no-go area.
“He doused the tension, the Assembly became calm and we continued with the work we were elected to do,” he said.

Earlier, Omo-Agege noted that Felix Ibru represented Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State in the fifth Senate from 2003 to 2007 and he served the country with pride as a quintessential legislator, a bridge builder and a great force for national development, unity and peace.

Representatives of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, many chief judges of different high courts, praised Ocholi’s commitment to the development of law profession.

They noted that in recognition of his brilliance, hard work and contributions to the advancement of law and legal jurisprudence, the late Ocholi was conferred with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) on December 12, 2007.
They stressed that Ocholi used his brilliance, passion and enthusiasm to serve the country in diverse capacities.

The President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), Justice Babatunde Adejumo who presided over the session, said :“He was a known face in the courts of record across the Nigerian landscape; a quintessential minister in the temple of justice. He personified the best tradition of the legal profession. At the NICN, we will miss the professionalism and tenacity with which you prosecuted your cases. The …judiciary has lost a rare gem, legal icon and a Bar Man; the nation will miss your unalloyed faithfulness and commitment to duty with which you served,’’ Adejumo noted.

Similarly, the Nigerian Bar Association in its goodwill message delivered by its President, Augustine Alegeh (SAN), described Ocholi as a ‘consummate Bar Man’ that contributed immensely to the development of the Bar, adding that he dealt with petitions fairly and transparently.”
The law practitioners urged the children and family of the deceased to be comforted at their great loss.

According to the programme of event of their burial, the bodies of Ocholi, his wife, Blessing and that of his son, Joshua, will be moved from the National Hospital this morning for another special court session at Kogi State High Court Lokoja , after which the remains will depart Lokoja for Abocho, in Dekina Local Council where Christian wake, tributes, praise worship and testimonies will take place.

The bodies will lie in state at his country home in Abocho tomorrow where funeral service is also slated for 10:00a.m. at the L.G.E.A. Primary School after which they will be buried.

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