President Buhari, Nigerians pay tribute to James Ocholi

Ben Adam Shemang, Nnenna Okoronkwo, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed shock and sadness at the death of Barrister James Ocholi (SAN), describing his death as untimely, regretting that Nigeria has lost 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.

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.

In a Facebook post, the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai described the incident as a “sad, sad development”.

El-Rufai said “it is with great sadness that the Kaduna State Ministry of Health and Human Services further announces the death of Mrs. Ocholi at Doka Hospital, who was in coma since the accident near Rijana, along the Kaduna-Abuja Road. Earlier, the death of Minister Ocholi and his son were announced. May their souls rest in perfect peace, Amen”.

Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi has also expressed shock over the sudden death of the Minister of State for Labour, Mr James Ocholi.

Bello, who issued a statement in Lokoja on Sunday 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 of the late minister.

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.

He described the late minister as a fine leader who meant well for the people and development of Kogi state and Nigeria.

Adesayo 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.

He also prayed to God to have mercy on the state by putting a stop to sudden deaths of political headlights in the state.