By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The Crème de la Crème of Jurists and lawyers from within and outside of Abuja on Wednesday extolled the virtues of late Hon Jude Okeke as the Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja (Unity Bar) organised night of Tributes in his honour.
The tribute came from members who have had various interactions with him- some as far back as law school days; some right when he was at the bar and some while he was on the bench.
In her welcome address, the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja (Unity Bar), Mrs Hauwa Shakarau said late Hon. Justice Jude Okeke was an outstanding gentleman, a man who loved all that came into contact with him. For us at Unity Bar, he was a trail blazer and a reference point having served without blemish at the Bar and the Bench. He was indeed a worthy ambassador of the Bar and the Bench. This night of tributes therefore is our own way of appreciating God for his short life that he shared with us she said.
Ms Shekarau ended her address with a quote from Maya Angelou “A great soul serves everyone all the time, A great soul never dies but brings us together again and again.”
In his exaltation, the Chairman of the Nigerian Christian Association (CAN), North-Central, Rev. Israel Akanji who took his sermon from Proverb 10 v 7, titled: “The memory of the righteous will be a blessing but the name of the wicked will wrath”, tasked the people to live their lives based on what God will say and as such, their memory to be a blessing when they are no more.
On his part, Asiwaju Olugbenga Awomolo represented by his wife, Mrs Awomolo in his tribute titled: Goodnite to A judge who feared God and countenanced no human threat has this to say:
“It beats my heart to hear but to accept the will of God that Hon Justice Jude O Okeke of Federal Capital Territory High Court dies on Tuesday the 4th of August 2020.I knew him as a legal practitioner here in Abuja. We had a case to which both off us gave the best of our ability – he won at the high court and I won at the Court of Appeal.
“He called me my leader, he was a gentle man per excellence, he never compromised his obligations as a legal jurist and a legal practitioner. He was humble, kind, contented and satisfied with his position in life. He was respectful and sincere in his dealings with the Bench.
“Late Hon Justice Jude was a very honest man who surrendered when he found out that he was wrong. He always approaches his case with utmost care, when in doubt and when he was right he treated his colleagues with utmost respect because he valued friendship and relationship.
“He was a human rights activist and earned respect from all level and in particular as Chairman of the Unity Bar Branch of the NBA. His appointment in April 2007 as a Judge of the federal capital territory judiciary was celebrated by all and who considered him as a fitting feather in the cap.
“As a judge, he accorded due respect to all counsel who appeared before him in his court. He was patient, painstaking and opened his heart to all people.
“When he was faced with the criminal trial of his colleague – a judicial officer in a then controversial allegation, he maintained his peace. He was determined to do Justice despite a threat to his career and media intimidation sufficient to affect his judgment, truth and justice.
“Throughout the trials, he trusted and revered on the living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and our Lord Jesus Christ. He dismissed the criminal allegation as lacking in merit and no one found any fault in him, no one could found any fault in him because he was a judge who feared God and countenanced no human threat, intimidation or harassment of the powers that be irrespective of who had the case before him”.
The son of Late Hon Justice Jude Okeke who said he could not believe that his father is no more, said his late father thought him that a good name is better than silver and gold. He said no matter what his father was going through, he made sre he respected himself and he always made sure his table was clean.
The night of Tributes was attended by Judges, Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Past Chairmen of NBA Abuja Branch, lawyers from the Unity Bar and lawyers from all over Nigeria.
Notable senior advocates at the event were, Joe Kyari Gadzama SAN, P.O. Okolo SAN, Ibrahim Mark SAN, Prof. Peter Akper SAN, J.S. Okutepa SAN, P.I.N. Ikwueto SAN, Ola Olanipekun SAN, Ikechukwu Ezechukwu SAN, Isaiah Bozino SAN, Chief Chris Uche SAN, Paul Idornigie SAN, Hassan Ishaya SAN, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, J.U.K. Igwe SAN, K.C.O. Njemanze SAN, J.O. Asom Uja SAN and Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George SAN
Others are: Hon. Justice Nwagboso from Imo State Judiciary, Justice Benson Ogbu of the High Court of Ebonyi State, Hon. Justice I.M. Njaka of the High court of Imo State, Hon. Justice Jaja Maryam of the Customary Court of Appeal and Hon. Justice Chikere A.I. of the GlFederal High Court Abuja.
The President of the Court of Appeal was represented by Hon. Justice Yargata Nimpar. Hon. Justice Adeniyi represented the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court. The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court was represented by Hon. Justice Abang.