Ngige, Okafor, others pay tribute to Okwusogu
For the late General Secretary of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Clement Obi Okwusogu (SAN) it was a harvest of tributes as colleagues from the Bar and Bench gathered to pay him their last respects at the Lagos High Court, Igbosere Lagos. Obi, as he was fondly, called died last November 22.
They recalled fond memories of their time with the “radiant and amiable” legal giant who was highly respected among his peers.
Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN) said: “To many of us who are his friends, the death of Mr Obi Okwusogu was most unexpected. It was a shock and it left everyone of us with a deep sense of irredeemable loss.
“Obi as General Secretary of NBA and Chief TJO Okpoko (SAN) as President did their best to move the association to the next level. To their credit, they lifted the association out of the mess of the 1992 imbroglio. They started from scratch and introduced a lot of reforms in the management of the affairs of the association.”
Ngige said Obi kept touch with all his friends at all times, “attending their social events in company of his dear wife, Uju in every part of Nigeria.
“Just in January this year, when my late dad, Akunnia Pius Ngige was laid to rest, Obi and Uju were there at Alor to pay their condolences to my family.”
Obi, he added, “wrote a very short tribute published in the brochure for my dad’s funeral. Obi in his usual jocular self had concluded his tribute with this prayer:
“We can only now pray for the repose of his noble soul and gently ask Akunnia to inform the heavenly host that those of us here on earth will be late in joining them (at least until we are 99 plus years) Igwodo Kachifo Onwa, Nna’eka, Maryrose, Anuli, ndo nu” As we propose, God disposes.
“Whose turn is it next? Nobody knows! So we must be prepared to depart at anytime we are called upon by the Lord. Obi lived a clean and godly life. He was an honest man, lived a simple and modest life. He was a good lawyer, a fine advocate. He detested injustice and oppression. He was a peace maker and bridge builder.”
Nigige noted that Obi’s easygoing nature won him friends from all over the country.
“It was no wonder anytime an honest lawyer was being sought as a returning officer to conduct NBA elections, whether at Lagos branch or at national level, Obi would be sought for.
“Obi will be sorely missed at the meetings of Body of Benchers and the National Executive Committee of NBA. He was a life member at both bodies. May the good Lord in His infinite mercies grant Obi eternal rest! May his gentle soul rest in the bosom of the Lord! May God grant his amiable wife and children the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss,” Ngige stated
Chief Arthur Obi Okafor (SAN) said: “The death of Okwusogu was a thunderbolt unexpected and saddening. Before his death, I was with him and his dear wife in company of Mr. Andrew Odum. We had a good time at his residence and he was full of life. It was therefore a great surprise that two weeks after, his death was announced. It is saddening that our dear friend would have this sudden departure leaving behind a soul mate, Mrs. Obianuju Okwusogu and their lovely children.
“Obi, as he was fondly called by his friends, was honest to a fault and very outspoken. He respects both the low and the mighty without any preference. He keeps relationships and enjoys the confidence and loyalty of many legal practitioners including the present and past Presidents of the Nigerian Bar Association. He hails from the ancient Onitsha Ado Kingdom, assimilated in the Lagos axis and maintains his connection with the Abatete people where one of his grandparents hailed.
“Myself having come from Abatete, Obi would usually call my attention that he has gotten so thin in his body with only his head becoming so big out of malnourishment by me being from his grandparent’s place. We laugh over it whilst reminding him that he has grown so much that his presence is spread all over the country contrary to his assertion that he has grown thin. Obi usually had an already-made rib-cracking jokes to confront you with. He is greatly loved and will be greatly missed by his family, his friends, professional colleagues, the Nigerian Bar Association, the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria and the society at large,” Okafor stated
Secretary, NBA Lagos branch, Mr. Steve Obajaja said: “A clement soul has transited to even more clement climes.
“Okwusogu, whose other name is Clement indeed lived out the true meaning of his name whilst on this side of eternity. He was a mild mannered, gentle and humble man. He was a rare breed who combined comeliness with brilliance and he rose to become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“Obi’s striking looks were such that you could not miss him in a crowd. You will always notice his feathery white hair and the cool exterior of his demeanor and humble mien. Obi was one of the few who went against the grain. He did not allow his achievements and his big title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria separate him from the rank and file of the Bar.
“Talking of the Bar, Obi indeed served the Bar and in recognition of his excellence he was elected the General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association where he served with distinction as well.
“Obi was a consummate family man who went everywhere with his amiable wife, I recall running into the duo at Airport lounges since I became Secretary of the Branch on our way to NBA functions across the country. For one so close to and loved by her Husband, I pray God almighty will give this woman the fortitude to bear this monumental loss.
“To the Bar Association I say we should be consoled with the fact that Obi lived a good life and served the bar at all times in the course of his long and distinguished career. Obi was indeed a clement man and as he has transited to more clement climes this day we thank God for the life he lived and pray that he will find peace with his maker.”
A lawyer and author, Mr. Frank Agbedo said: “The death of a beloved one, irrespective of age, always leaves behind a pall of grief to the bereaved and well wishers. So it was for the law fraternity and especially the NBA when the sad news of his death was made public by his immediate family. The news was hard to believe by those who saw him full of life and in his usual gaiety, just few days before his death, and therefore had preferred living in denial than face the reality of his sudden demise
“His unflinching devotion and dedication to his calling hovered around him like an irresistible force, as a practicing lawyer, astute litigator, board room titan, Bar leader and Life Bencher, NBA National Officer, Member of the Inner Bar, Bar Administrator and renowned NBA Electoral Umpire and above as a role model to both the young and old wigs alike, as well as an implacable and irrepressible humanist of the highest distinction.
“Indeed, the saying that Life levels all men but death reveals the eminent had an exception in Obi Okwusogu (SAN), as he was eminent both in life and in his death, in the light of the sheer volume of literature on his persona that flooded the entire print and electronic media landscape in recent times.
“As a lawyer he lived up to the eternal admonition of the first Nigeria Lawyer, Mr Christopher Sapara Williams, who challenged every lawyer to live for the direction of his people and for the advancement of the society. He deployed the instrumentality of the law to advance the cause of justice in the society and also to uplift the lives of the indigent and downtrodden, having meritoriously served on the Council of Legal Aid Council of Nigeria”
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