By Lucky Isibor
Judges have been urged to ensure that truth and equity remain the goal of justice.
This call was made by the Chief Judge of Edo State, Honourable Justice Frances Eseohe Ikponmwen at the valedatory court session in honour of a retired justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the late Honourable Justice Andrews Otutu Obaseki held Thursday, 17 July at the High Court complex, Benin City.
Honourable Justice Ikponmwen whose speech was delivered by Hon. Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe who represented her at the occasion, stated that the late Justice Obaseki was the first Benin to seat on the Supreme Court bench noting that the late jurist took no short cut and made the full journey to the Apex Court.
Justice Ikponmwen eulogized late Justice Obaseki for possessing an independable mental capacity to translate his passion for justice into the actuality of fair, lucid and righteous judgement.
“He was one who had in his heart a compelling passion to accomplish justice. Possessing an indispensable mental capacity to translate that passion for justice into the actuality of fair, lucid and righteous judgement.
“He was one judge who showed this passion for justice so steadfastly and so indomitably. He revered the bench bringing it dignity. He took no short cut, and made the full journey to the apex court”, Justice Ikponmwen said.
In his address, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen, described late Andrews Otutu Obaseki as a learned gentleman and a jurist per excellence.
He said the erudite formal acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Otutu participated in a total of 658 judgements comprising 126 lead judgements, 530 concurring judgements and two dissenting judgements while at the Bench of the apex court.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria who was represented by Hon.Judtice Ejembi Eko, Justice of the Supreme, said the late Otutu had set down ground breaking precedents in the areas of the protection of citizens from extrajudicial acts of governments, the principles of fair hearing and natural justice from his notable pronouncements in the case of the governor of Lagos State vs Ojukwu, Garba vs University of Maiduguri, Obeks vs Olowo and in the case of Awolowo vs Shagari.
The CJN said Otutu has fertilized and nurtured the Supreme Court of Nigeria and Jurisprudence.
On the part of the Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the late Otutu taught them simplicity and hardwork.
He said the Edo people recalled with pride and nostalgia the remarkable judicial career of Justice Obaseki who set down ground breaking judicial precedents and notable pronouncements in such classical decisions as governor of Lagos State vs Ojukwu; Garba vs University of Maiduguri; Obeko vs Olowo and Awolowo vs Shagari where the principles of fair hearing, natural justice, rule of law and the protection of the citizen from extra-judicial acts of governments were laid down and which to this day, formed the bedrock of our jurisprudence.
He said the pioneering and ground breaking achievements of Justice Obaseki as the first Edo man to have sat on our Apex Court which invariably led the way and cleared the part for such other Edo legal icons as Hon. Justice Omorose Ibukun Akpata and Hon. Justice Samson Uwaifo.
He said whilst they mourn his death, they are consoled by the inspiring message of distinguished service which his life exemplified.
He said his government would strengthen the judicial system as the hallmark of democracy and make the environment a conducive place for them to carry out their profession.
“I remembered when I used to meet my late uncle, Ututu, he was always complaining of backache. He told me that the chair he used in the court while writing judgements made him to develop this backache.
“So, when I came on board, I said I would make the court to be conducive for the judiciary to carry out their legal business.
“I want to strengthen the judicial system in the state and as we know, the judiciary is what has made democracy smooth and without the rule of law, democracy will not be possible”, he said.
Apart from the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Hon. Justice Samson Uwaifo, Hon.Justice Cromwell Idahosa were amongst those who paid their last respect to late Justice Andrews Ututu Obaseki at the valedatory court session.
The late Andrews Otutu J.S.C rtd was born on 11 June 1926 to late Chief Gaius I. Obaseki, C.B.E, the Iyase of Benin Kingdom and late Mrs. Imazogbonre O. Obaseki and until his death, he was the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, a position which he held between July 31, 1987- May 3, 1990.