Late Justice Jude Okeke: The man who served “Bar and Bench” Without Blemish

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By Chibuike Nwabuko

Abuja (Sundiata Post) Late Justice Jude Okeke has been described as a trail blazer and a reference point who served the Bar and the Bench without blemish.

The of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja branch (Unity Bar), Hauwa  E Shekarau stated this in her welcome address at the Night of tributes organized by the group at the Christian Ecumenical Centre, on Wednesday in Abuja.

Sundiata Post recalls that the gathering was a celebration of and time of the past of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja branch (Unity Bar), Late Hon Justice Jude Okeke.

According to the chairman, “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 that he shared with us. We will surely miss him, even though he is gone from our sight, he lives forever in our hearts.

For the Abuja Unity Bar, the news of the death of Late Justice Jude Okeke was received with a rude shock to many of us who had related or communicated with him in the few days preceding his death.

The who ended the welcome address with a quote said: “A great soul serves everyone all the time, a great soul never dies – bring us together again and again. Hon. Justice Jude Okeke lives on in our hearts”.

In his exultation, the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, (North Central) Rev Dr. Israel Akanji who anchored his sermon on Proverb 10 v 7 said “the memory of the righteous will be a blessing but the name of the wicked will wrath.

The clergy talked about three principles from the passage namely;

(1)The principle of opposite and contrast. According to him, the bible is full of principle of contrast contrast and examples are numerous – contrast of life. Time for everything there is a time; a time to be born and time to die, time to sow and time reap, time to scatter stone and time to gather stone etc.

But contrasts are not just of time, the bible gives us a lot of contrast even of situations. Broadway and narrow way, David and Goliath – Contrast; 5 wise virgins and 5 foolish virgins – contrast; house on the rock and house on the sand- contrast; Richman and Lazarus – contrast.

He noted that we do not have too many options in the bible, it is usually “either” “or”.

So our passage is talking about the righteous and the wicked. So the bible talked about two, where two will be standing and one will be taken and the other left, so it is always either this or that. And that is how God presented things to us that at the end of this life, it is either heaven or hell.

This calls to mind the story of Lazarus and the rich man, Lazarus died and was taken to heaven but the rich man died and went to hell. So there is always this contrast in the scripture.

So the second principle is the principle of “cause and effects”. This is found in Proverb. Proverb will tell you that if you do this, this will happen- cause and effect. “The memory of the righteous shall be a blessing, but the name of the wicked will wrath. This will lead to this – cause and effect.

And the third principle is the principle of “transition”.  The present time and the time to come after life. The question to ask is who is the righteous?

Revd Akanji said the question we should ask is how our be a blessing. There is time for everything a time to be born and a time to die. Nobody can escape the contrast of time, a time to weep and a time to laugh. All humanity is involved in this. A time will come when all that will be said of us is in the memory. You discover that you won’t be there always and this life itself is temporary. So who are those whose memory we bless? They are:

  1. Those who have cared more about what God is saying than what man will say. If you your memory to be a blessing, you must be bothered about what God will say. They are the people who seek the honour that come from God not from man. For those of us who hope to have a memory of blessing, our life must be governed by the principle of blessing God above man.  Many people do things to please men, how society will look at them but at the end of the day, they have no honour from God. If your memory must be a blessing, you must live by the principle of pleasing God and for us who are judges and lawyers who handle cases that has to do with human lives, I believe this becomes focal point that you imbibe the principle of pleasing God. If you leave your life to please God, your memory will be a blessing even if you are no more here.
  2. The righteous are those who have lived their lives not for themselves but for others. That is another memory that will be a blessing. How do we leave our lives? For ourselves or for others? See what Bible says about Jesus Christ in Isaiah 53 V5: “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was laid upon him and by his strives we are healed”. In order words Jesus lived for us. John said: Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus was a cabbage collector. He took our own sin and gave is His own righteousness. The principle Jesus showed was that he lived for not himself.

“So I challenge all of us today who are here that in order for your memory to be a blessing, we must be people who leave for others. So in Nigeria today, if we imbibe this principle, we have nothing to fear. But you see that we are ravaged by selfishness, people only care about themselves. The bible says, blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. If you leave a selfless life you will definitely reap it, it could be your children that will reap it, such that wherever they are and desires something, God will send a helper that will show forth and solve the problem for them. You must not always reap where you sow, you might sow somewhere and reap somewhere else. You might not always be the direct beneficiary, you might sow and it is your children that will reap.

Be a blessing wherever you are, leave a life for others, don’t worry, God will never forget, he added.

According to him, “We are bequeathing a future of bankruptcy for our children and by the time they grow up tomorrow, all they will see is debt accumulated. Someone has said that grave yard of some people are of greater value than lives of some of us.

You will hear tribute from members who have had various interactions with him, some as far back as law school days and some right when he was at the bar and some while he was on the bench.

He therefore commiserated with the Abuja Bar Association over the death of Hon. Justice Jude Okeke, prayed God to comfort his family, the Unity Bar, the entire NBA.