Onnoghen, NBA, Senior Lawyers Eulogize Late Justice, Nwokedi

Late Justice P.K Nwokedi
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen and senior lawyers in the country on Wednesday paid glowing tribute to the late Justice of the Supreme Court, Paul Kemdilim Nwokedi who died at the age of 90 years.
At a valedictory session in honour of the late apex court Justice held at the Supreme Court, the CJN described Nwokedi as a great jurist whose life is worthy of emulation by the incoming generation.
Justice Onnoghen said Justice Nwokedi in his lifetime stood for justice, integrity and reputation, adding that upon his retirement from active national service, the late jurist dedicated himself to a quite but laudable work of charity, with a special interest in the training of Catholic Priests and support for the seminarian.

“As a judge, he earned the reputation of being fair but firm as reflected in his judgment in the several cases

he handled while on the bench. I recall the now renown case of Obi Okongwu and the State that saw to the contempt conviction of the then Solicitor General of Anambra State for casting aspersions on the integrity of the judiciary.
“Another notable and landmark case was the judgment of the then Anambra State High Court where the court under Nwokedi held that the practice of the governors to willy-nilly revoke the Certificates of Occupancy of lands belonging to their critics was not in accordance with the public purpose requirements of the Land Use Act”, he said.
In their own tribute, the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BoSAN), canvassed the elevation of Chief Judges of High Courts, who have a track record of performance to the Supreme Court as done in the appointment of the late Justice Nwokedi from the State High Court to the Supreme Court.
In the tribute delivered by Chief George Uwechuwe (SAN), the Senior Advocates claimed that the current practice of appointing Supreme Court Justices from Court of Appeal alone should be revisited, so as to pave way for the elevation of hard-working judges from the High Courts to the apex court.
BoSAN recalled the appointment of Justice Anthony Iguh,  Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, Justice Kayode Ego, Justice E. B.  Graig and Justice Saibu Kawu, who were Chief Judges of their respective States High Court and got elevated to Supreme Court, where they left indelible marks with their profound performance at the apex court bench.
“On occasions like this, it is customary to use a tribute to such a legal luminary to address some issues that deserve the attention of members of the Bench and the Bar,  with particular reference to the service of the deceased jurist.
“In the case of Late Justice P. K. Nwokedi, there is the need to revisit the current practice of not elevating serving or retiring Chief Judges of the “High Courts”, who had served commendable,  directly to the Supreme Court, instead of the Court of Appeal which is the current practice, to complete their service until they attain the age of seventy”, he said.
According to them, the urgent need to resume discussion on the issue was underscored by the recent “Guidelines for the Conferment of the rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, which they said placed much greater emphasis on a candidate’s “Final Judgments” on the High Court.
“This is most appropriate, in my view, because it is at the High Courts that the witnesses are examined and cross-examined and the major legal tussle between the parties and their counsel is engaged”, he added.

In its tribute, the NBA President who was represented by Paul Usoro SAN extoled the virtues which characterized the legal icon

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“The Nigerian Bar Association today mourns with the Nigerian Nation, the passage of one of our icons and beacon of hope, the late Honorable Justice Paul Kemdilim Nwokedi, CON JSC. In mourning His Lordship, we also celebrate his life and give thanks to God that His Lordship lived a full life and passed on at 90 years having seen his succeeding 3 generations – his 5 children, grandchildren and a great grandchild. That is not given to all.

His Lordship evidently passed on, on 03 September 2017, a contented man, having raised successful succeeding generations, amongst them, our colleague and member of the Inner Bar, Uche Gringory Nwokedi, SAN.

As we mourn the physical passage of Honorable Justice Nwokedi, we are comforted that he remains alive in his succeeding generations but more importantly, in our hearts and in our Law Reports.

His Lordship indeed comes alive daily each time his pronouncements are read by and/or inculcated in our law students in the various Law Faculties of our Universities and the Nigerian Law School or cited by Your Lordships and lawyers in the various court hierarchies of our land, starting from the magistracy right up to the Supreme Court.

That indeed is what it literally means to live in the hearts and minds of succeeding generations and that is a most befitting memorial to His Lordship.”

The late Nwokedi who was born on November 3, 1926, to Chief Joseph Nudubisi Nwokedi, Uthoko III of Achalla transited to eternal glory on the 3rd of September 2017.

 He was elevated to the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1990 and retired on 2nd November, 1991 on attainment of the then statutory retirement age of 65 years.

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