The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on Wednesday, directed that the national flag in all court premises and institutions of the Judiciary in the country should be flown at half-mast for the next seven days.
He said the flags should be lowered as a mark of honour to a former CJN, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, who died on Wednesday.
Katsina-Alu who headed the Nigerian judiciary between 2009 and 2011, died at an Orthopaedic Hospital in Abuja.
The former CJN who hailed from Ushongo local government area of Benue state, died at the age of 76.
He would have clocked 77 years on August 28. Katsina-Alu succeeded Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi as CJN in December 2009.
He took over the mantle of leadership of the judiciary within the period that late President Umaru Yar’Adua who was critically ill, failed to hand over to the then Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, a situation that made the then CJN, Kutigi, to perform the swearing-in ceremony on behalf of the absent President.
Katsina-Alu served as CJN till August 2011 when he was succeeded by the late Justice Dahiru Musdapher. As a mark of respect to the deceased jurist, the incumbent CJN also directed that Condolence Registers be opened at all courts in the country and related institutions of the Judiciary.
Justice Onnoghen, in a statement that was signed by his media aide, Mr. Awassam Bassey, said he received the sad news of the passing away of the ex-CJN in Canada where he is currently attending a conference.
“The Hon. Chief Justice sends his heartfelt condolences and that of the entire Judiciary to the family of the deceased former CJN and urges them to take solace in the fact that their late patriarch lived a fulfilled life in his 76 years sojourn on earth, rising to the peak of his chosen career when he served his country as Chief Justice of Nigeria from December 30, 2009 to August 2011.
“As a mark of honour to the deceased jurist, the Chief Justice has directed that Condolence Registers should be opened at all courts in the country and related institutions of the Judiciary.”
“In the same vein, the Hon. CJN has directed that the National flag in all Court premises and institutions of the the Judiciary in the country should be flown at half-mast for seven days effective today (Wednesday, 18 July 2018).”
“The Chief Justice, on behalf of the Nigerian Judiciary, prays for the peaceful repose of Justice Katsina-Alu and for God to grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss”, the statement read. Meanwhile, stakeholders in the Justice sector have continued to extol the virtues of the deceased CJN who was the first Tiv-speaking Attorney-General of Benue State.
A constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Sebastian Hon, described the late jurist as a pacesetter. According to Hon, SAN, “The sudden demise our eminent Jurist and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice A.I. Katsina-Alu, GCON, has sent deep shock into all of us who know his enormous contributions to justice administration in Nigeria.
“A very upright man, his lordship was the first Tiv-speaking Attorney-General of Benue State, the first Tiv-speaking Judge of the Benue State High Court, the first Tiv-speaking Justice of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, and the first Tiv-speaking Chief Justice of Nigeria.”
“In all of these, his lordship left indelible landmarks. Trained in the British legal tradition of brevity, laced with deepness, his lordship’ s judgments on the Bench were brief, incisive and straight to the point, thereby rendering justice without much stress.
“He played a major role in the ‘resource control’ suits, the Atiku survivalist litigations, the Rotimi Amaechi ‘k-leg’ survivalist litigation that enamoured the National Assembly to reshape the Electoral Act, 2010; and in several other public-interest suits.
“I can also say without blinking an eye that his brief stay as the CJN saw to the peaking of welfare packages for staff of the Judiciary, especially his colleagues on the Supreme Court Bench. Above all, he was God fearing and one who opened his doors to the poor and needy. Adieu, my father”, he added.