The Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Ishaq Bello has described late Justice Jude Okeke as an impartial and independent minded Jurist who will be missed in the legal profession.
Speaking on Thursday at the valedictory court session of the late Justice Okeke, Justice Bello who reflected on the life and times of this departed colleague, disclosed that he recommended him for elevation as a Justice of the Court of Appeal based on ” my firm conviction that he possesses perfect judicial temperament to excel at the appellate court. But here I’m barely a month after presiding over a valedictory court session to bid him farewell as he journeyed into eternity.
Speaking emotionally in the large crowd of mourners, Justice Bello added, “It seems very unfair in the midst of our helplessness however, we shouldn’t surrender to self-hatred and despair as death is an inevitable end we must all reach, but for the date and time no one knows.
” And as religion teaches us, we are all pilgrims, so the best way to live is to always be ready to return to our maker. It further goes to show that as sojourners, this world bis merely a stage and all the men and women have their entrance and their exits. Our late brother Hon. Justice Okeke as one of such brilliant players in the legal realm has made his final exit from this finitely temporal existence for immortality.”
While enumerating some achievements of Justice Okeke, the Chief Judge noted “in his iconic description of the essential qualities of a good Judge, Socrates stated that ‘four things belong to a judge. To hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly, and to decide impartially.’ I cannot do better than to borrow those words to describe Justice Okeke.”
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the Abuja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ms. Hauwa Shakarau said the passing of Justice Okeke is a personal loss to us at the NBA Abuja branch.
“He was our past Chairman, he was a friend and esteemed colleague. He was an exceptional man. His shrewdness and astuteness in handling matters cannot be easily surpassed.
“For the greater part of his career and professional life, he made a lasting impact.
“This brings to mind the popular quote of Chuck Palahniuk, “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”
She also used the medium to highlight some of the challenges and difficulties faced by judges on the bench.
The NBA Chairman said with heaps of cases on judges’ dockets, they were forced to work without the modern tools that could lighten and fast- track justice delivery as applicable in other climes.
” There is need to ensure that the judiciary as the third arm of the government is adequately funded and provided with the necessary tools required for efficient and quick dispensation of justice”, she added.
In his speech, Mr. Joe Kyari-Gadzama Gadzama SAN, who spoke on behalf of the body of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), also described the late judge as a worthy ambassador that was known for his intergrity and intelligence prowess.
Gadzama further said the way to honour the deceased was for the bar to be united and apply his legacies to its daily lives.
Justice Okeke died on August 4, 2020 after a brief illness after serving 13 years on the bench of the court.