- Buhari, Others Mourn
A legal icon and Nigeria’s Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Mr. Ocholi James is dead. He was born November 26, 1960, he was 55.
He died in a road crash on the spot, 57 kilometers away from Kaduna after a rear tyre of the Jeep they were driving in burst, skidded off, and somersaulted several afternoon in company of his wife and eldest son.
This was disclosed by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Kaduna State Sector Commander, Francis Udoma in a telephone chat with newsmen in Kaduna.
He said the Minister and his son died on the spot, while the wife was rushed to a nearby Hospital, Doka General Hospital, about 15 kilometers away from the accident scene where she also died.
Meanwhile, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has expressed his grieve and condolence, said Udoma.
“His driver, the Chief Detail, the Orderly and the P.A (Personal Assistant) were injured and are receiving treatment” Udoma said.
A witness, whose car was behind the minister’s when the accident occurred, also said the minister’s car had a burst tyre before somersaulting several times. It was said that the car veered off course after losing a tyre and hitting a stationery vehicle, then somersaulting severally.
The Lexus SUV in which the Ocholis were travelling was been mangled beyond recognition as it left doubt as to the state of the occupants.
Contacted, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said he was away in Lagos and was trying to confirm the incident.
He was reportedly on a private trip when the accident occurred, but was said to be using a spare driver as his own driver was said to be on a short vacation.
But a spokesperson to President Muhammadu Buhari, said the presidency had been briefed of the tragedy.
“We are trying to issue a statement on the matter,” the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said.
Mr. Ocholi became Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2007, and Chairman, Disciplinary Committee of the Abuja chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association(NBA).
In 2011, he was governorship aspirant in Kogi State on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change.
Between 2013 and 2014, he was deputy national legal adviser of the All Progressive Congress.
Last year, he sought the APC gubernatorial ticket at the party’s primary election, losing to the late Abubakar Audu. He was appointed minister in 2015.
Mr. Ocholi attended Ochaja Secondary School, and the University of Jos.
He graduated from the Nigerian Law School in 1986 and was admitted to the Nigerian Bar the same year.
Kogi state has been embroiled in several political uncertainties following the election in November last year in which the APC Governorship flagbearer, Prince AbubakarAudu died while coasting to victory in an election that was barely inconclusive, thus paving way for the next candidate in the primaries, Alhaji Yahaya Bello to take over the mantle and actualize the party’s choice of Bello as replacement. This situation has opened up severally discontent and legal works from both within the APC and the now opposition PDP to determine the worthiness of Bello as the rightful choice to the seat.
Meanwhile President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed shock and sadness at the death of Barrister James Ocholi (SAN), who together with his wife and son were killed in a car crash in Abuja on Sunday, March 6, 2016.
Buhari described the Minister of State for Labour and Employment’s death as untimely, regretting that Nigeria has loss a key component of the change agenda.
“Barrister Ocholi was an accomplished and patriotic Nigerian, who was keen to accept the call to service at a time his country needed him,” President Buhari said, adding that in the few months he had been in office, the late minister of state had already begun to distinguish himself through his commitment and dedication to his portfolio.
The late Ocholi has had a long record of political association with President Buhari.
President Buhari also consoled with the government and people of Kogi State, whom he described as having lost a distinguished and irreplaceable son. He prayed that God would comfort them and grant them the grace to bear the loss.
“The entire country mourns the loss of this great man, who has sadly left us when we need him most,” he said.
President Buhari has also sent the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer David Babachir to formally convey the news to members of the deceased family as well as parishioners in his place of worship.
The National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) however said it received news of the death of the Minister of state for Labour, James Ocholi (SAN) and his son with great shock and sadness.
The APC National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni in a condolence message described the deaths as a monumental loss prayed for the recovery of other occupants of the ghastly vehicle accident who reportedly sustained serious injuries.
The APC National Secretary said the late Ocholi who was the party’s former Deputy National Legal Adviser will be remembered for his selfless service to the country as minister, party, legal profession and his home state, Kogi.
While extending his condolences to the people and government of Kogi state, Buni prayed to Almighty God to grant Ocholi’s immediate family the fortitude to bear the painful loss.
Also in a statement Sunday night, Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello expressed shock over the sudden death of the Minister in a car crash along Kaduna-Abuja road.
Bello in the statement issued in Lokoja described the death of Ocholi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), as a monumental loss for the state and the country at large.
The late minister hailed from Ogbabede/Abocho in Dekina local government area of Kogi state.
“Late Ocholi was a pragmatic, dynamic, humane and brilliant law officer who was known around the world for his dexterous approach to legal and political issues and one of the most unswerving constitutional lawyers Nigeria has ever produced,’’ the governor said.
The statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, recalled how the late minister joined other progressive minded individuals around the country to drive the intellectual pillars of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to the statement, the governor regretted that Ocholi would surely be missed by all. While condoling members of his immediately family, political associates, friends, colleagues and APC over his death, Bello said that the vacuum left behind by the deceased would be difficult to fill.
He prayed for the peaceful repose of Ocholi’s soul and urged all those he left behind to see his death as an act of God.
Also reacting, the state Treasurer of the APC, Mr Ismail Adesayo, described Ocholi’s death as very unfortunate and described him as a fine leader who meant well for the people and development of Kogi state and Nigeria just as he lamented that Ocholi died when his service was most needed in the state, praying to God to grant him eternal rest and the family the fortitude to bear irreparable loss.
By Chris RICHARDS