THE only surviving son of the late Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Barrister Aaron Ocholi, has promised to retain all the legacies of his father. Aaron Ocholi who is 25 years, according to family sources, was saved from following his father to attend the Church service in Kaduna due to an ankle injury he sustained while training on a football pitch. He was on crutches at the time the father and some members of the family embarked on the fatal trip.
By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief, Luka Binniyat, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abdulsalam Muhammad, Henry Umoru & Ben Agande FG to immortalize Ocholi ABUJA—
Also yesterday, Deputy Governor of Yobe State, Abubakar Ali, was involved in an auto accident along the Kaduna-Kano expressway but escaped unhurt. Already, the Ocholi family house at 4 Daggash Street, Kado Estate, Abuja, was a beehive of activities, yesterday, as ministers, lawmakers and heads of agencies trooped to the residence to commiserate with the family. This resulted in a traffic gridlock on all the roads leading to the family house at Kado.
Speaking to the body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, that visited the house, Aaron said he would not tamper with the legacy of his father and will never sell his books and law firm, assuring the SANs that with them, he would not derail. A close friend of the late minister, who was always regarded as his ‘twin’ brother by relatives, Tokunbo Obayan, a.k.a. Toks, described Ocholi’s death as a rude shock.He said: “It was so sudden that it was certainly unreal in the fact that, yesterday morning, we did not feel that something like this was on the cards. I actually was flying from Kaduna to Lagos, I live in Lagos. I had no idea that it was even between Kaduna and Abuja, only for me to get to Lagos and my phone rang from everywhere in Nigeria, confirming the ugly incident. “So, you can imagine the shock and now for me to also find out that it wasn’t just him but his wife and Joshua, that was like the world had crumbled on us because our families were like twin families. “My wife got the first text and she replied that it was not possible.
My wife is the Vice-Chancellor of Landmark University and former Vice-Chancellor of Covenant University. “Her first reaction was that it was not possible, then the person now called her back and said it was all over the social media, it was devastating to imagine. Two weeks ago, I was here in this house, two days, four days we talked and we planned and to suddenly hear that it was like someone just shut the door, everything we have been planning, everybody calls him my twin brother, even when I am in Lagos, people in Abuja phoned me to find out where he is. “When we sat down there and we were discussing, the plans for the future, the fact is that as minister, he had to pull off from anything that will give any look of impropriety which Ocholi was particular about.
Even his businesses and things that he was committed to, we were discussing how to handle them to make sure that there was no conflict of interest. “That was our last conversation. We were sitting here when he was about to travel to Kogi for the run-off election. He had five children, two sons and three daughters. Ojoni is the first daughter, Aaron is the second son, he was called to bar the day his father was screened in the Senate. “He went for a church service in Kaduna; he has been involved in Christian activities for a very long time and that was actually how we met. There is a bond between the two of us because of our love for God.
“Even his coming into politics was to bring a dimension of cleanliness and most people will not understand if I tell you that Ocholi entered into politics because he had a call. I was the first person that he told. I was sitting beside him when he told me and said Toks, I heard God saying I should go and serve him in politics but I like legal practice. “I said if God said you should go and serve him that is where you should go. This is so devastating.” Also speaking, a cousin to the late minister, Isaac Agbanwu, a surveyor said: “We were not expecting this.
“We were together on Thursday, our discussion was about a trip he was going to make officially and I was to meet him and then discuss with him before he travelled and I went, we discussed and I left his office on Thursday. “I was expecting that by Saturday, he would have travelled; I was not expecting him around, let alone hearing of his death. I also travelled to the village, it was on my way to the village that I was informed about his death, I had no option than to turn back immediately. It is bad news to us.
He has a son who is already a graduate, called to the bar. We are making him to understand that he should see it as a reality and not a drama. “He was a humble man, an accessible man, a man that has the comfort of people as his agenda before himself.
He wouldn’t want to hurt anybody, he was always focused on heaven and did not want to be derailed.” 7 more still hospitalised — FRSC Kaduna State Sector Commander of the FRSC, Francis Udoma, confirmed to Vanguard in Kaduna, yesterday, that 10 persons were in the two SUVs, a Prado and a Lexus, involved in the accident that claimed the lives of the minister, his wife and son, adding that seven others who sustained serious injuries were rushed to the hospital for treatment. His words: “A total of 10 persons were involved in that sad accident. You have already written about those that died – the minister,, his wife and son.
There are seven other victims, but they have all been taken to the Abuja National Hospital, yesterday. ‘’They were in two cars – a Prado and a Lexus. All I can tell you is that at the time we took them there, they were given prompt medical attention. Since I am not the one treating them, I cannot tell you precisely how they are responding. But, I am told that they are responding well”, he said. He’ll be immortalised — Ngige Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, yesterday, said the Federal Government might immortalise the late Minister of State for Labour and Employment, James Ocholi, SAN. Senator Ngige stated this after signing the condolence register opened in honour of the late minister in Abuja. He also disclosed that he had declared a one day mourning and a work-free day for the staff in the ministry yesterday, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari had been duly notified and that Ocholi might be immortalized by the Federal Government because he died in active service. His words: “Yes! The Federal Government will work out something.
I have written officially to notify Mr. President about his transition and I believe the Federal Government will work out something because he died in active service. This is the second time the country is losing a minister of state, I think in 1982, the country lost a minister of state who went to São Tomé.” He said the Ministry will take care of the remaining members of Ocholi’s family and the staff of the ministry who sustained various degrees of injury in the accident.
In a condolence message signed by the minister, he said: “My brother and comrade in the struggle for a better Nigeria, you left us suddenly and without a word. I’m still shocked. We are consoled that in the brief period we worked as compatriots, you have shown you are a true Nigerian and one who desires the maximum good for the common man. Adieu.” Yobe deputy Gov in auto crash Also yesterday, the Deputy Governor of Yobe State, Abubakar Ali, was involved in an auto accident along the Kaduna-Kano Expressway. An eyewitness, Sanusi Abdul, said the incident occurred at Daka-Tsalle town, along the expressway. “The SUV he was travelling in had a head-on collision with a Toyota Avensis. Fortunately, the deputy governor’s vehicle did not somersault, but the Toyota car was badly damaged and some of its occupants injured,” he said. Abdul, who said the accident occurred around 9:30 am, added that he also narrowly missed hitting the deputy governor’s car, adding that the deputy governor’s convoy later continued its trip to Kano. Efforts to speak with the deputy governor was unsuccessful as he neither answered nor returned calls. A source at Government House, Damaturu, however, said the deputy governor travelled to Kano on a condolence visit to Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, who lost his mother on Friday.
Confirming the accident, the Sector Commander of Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, in Kano State, Mr. Aminu Umar Jaba, said: “It was a minor accident blown out of proportion by an unnamed aide to the deputy governor. The commander, however, declined further details on the number of vehicles involved in the accident but blamed social media for exaggerating the accident. “As for the fact we have at our disposal, it was a minor accident. The deputy governor escaped unhurt and he is now at Ganduje village on a condolence visit.” PDP Consoles Buhari, FG Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has condoled President Muhammadu Buhari and the federal government of Nigeria over the death of the Minister of State for Labour, Mr James Ocholi. The party in a statement signed by the National Publicity, Olisa Metuh, said the death of Mr Ocholi came to “the PDP as a huge shock and prayed God to grant eternal repose to their souls”. Part of the statement read: “The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff, on behalf of the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party condoles with the Federal Government and President Muhammadu Buhari on the tragic death of the Minister of State for Labour, Barr.
James Ocholi SAN, his wife and son in a car crash on Sunday”. The party also commiserated with the minister’s family and prayed God to grant them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss, adding that “the family should take solace in the exemplary and patriotic life lived by the late minister as well as his immense contributions to the legal profession and the nation at large. It prayed God to grant his soul eternal rest.” Saraki, Ekweremadu mourn Ocholi Also Senate President,Bukola Saraki, and the Deputy Senate President,Ike Ekweremadu, yesterday expressed deep shock and disbelief over Sunday’s demise of Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, James Ocholi, his wife and eldest son in a road mishap along Abuja-Kaduna Road.
The Senate President, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu in Abuja, described the tragic death of such a “promising Nigerian” as the late Minister as a colossal loss to the present administration in particular and the country at large. He condoled with President Muhammadu Buhari, members of the Federal Executive Council,FEC, the governor and people of Kogi State, leaders and people of North Central zone and the immediate family of the deceased over the unfortunate incident. Saraki said: “I still recall when the late Ocholi appeared before the Senate to be screened and confirmed as Minister a few months ago. He was not only full of life, he came across to me as a man of great ideas and accomplishments.
“He was very articulate and brilliant in his presentation and gave good account of himself as Senior Advocate of repute, who given the chance to discharge the duty assigned to him, would have contributed immensely in turning around the story of unemployment in this country. “His death and that of his wife and eldest son, is a colossal loss to me, his immediate family, the people and government of Kogi State, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress,APC and the entire country.” He prayed God to grant the souls of the deceased eternal rest, and urged Nigerians, especially his immediate family, to be comforted by the fact that Ocholi breathed his last while on acting service for his father land.