FG, NLC Bid Farewell To Ocholi

The Federal Government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Wednesday extolled the qualities of the late Minister of State for Labour and Employment, James Ocholi (SAN).
On March 6, the minister, his wife and son died in a motor accident along Kaduna/Abuja Express road.
Sen. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, while speaking at the valedictory court session held in his honour at the National Industrial Court, Abuja described Ocholi’s death as painful.
Ngige said that the legacies left behind by the late minister were good ones and would forever be remembered.
“I have known him before we started working together; we were together in the party APC. He was our deputy legal adviser and was also a member of the merger committee which I also belong.
“I have also known him as a lawyer and working together in the Ministry of Labour and Employment was a home coming to both of us.
“We were already friends and we have to pilot the affairs of the ministry together.
“Our main goal in the ministry was to bring change that will benefit the Nigerian workers and the society as a whole,’’ he said.
He said Ocholi departure would not be forgotten in a hurry.
Speaking, Mr Ayba Wabba, NLC President, said the late minister had left his indelible footprints in the sands of time.
Wabba described Ocholi as one of Nigeria’s brightest and finest minds who was cut down alongside his family members when his star was in the ascendancy.
“It is with a grief-stricken heart that I perform, arguably, one of the most difficult tasks as the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress. As Ocholi’s death is an unspeakable tragedy that numb the senses and he left no one in doubt that he was a trusted ally of Labour.
“Indeed, Ocholi’s knowledge of labour laws, industrial relations practice and his eagerness to work with social partners in the labour circuit raised hope for the labour movement,’’ he said.
The president also described Ocholi as a legal luminary, an urbane, a highly cultivated person and an invaluable asset in government-labour relations.
“What a shame death has robbed us of this priceless and irreplaceable gem. How can we come to terms with this? It is ever so difficult.
“The least we can do in memory of this illustrious son is to imbibe his noble qualities. We should also go a step further to immortalise his name after him a worthy edifice or institution.
“Fare thee well, my friend and my brother, Mr James Ocholi, (SAN),’’ Wabba added.



Family Suspects Foul Play In Ocholi, Wife, Son’s Death

The Federal Government has promised to investigate how the driver of the Sport Utility Vehicle, in which the Minister of State for Labour, Mr. James Ocholi (SAN); his wife, Blessing; and son, Joshua, died along the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway on Sunday, was employed.

The Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, stated this on Monday while responding to the call by the relatives of the deceased, including Ocholi’s uncle, Abdallah Aliu; another relative, Paul Audu; and the immediate younger sister to the late Blessing, who did not want her name mentioned, that the driver be investigated.

“The acting Permanent Secretary is here, she is the one in charge of human resources. We will find out and investigate it. We will do, but I can tell you that our personal drivers are known to us and we both keep our personal drivers. We will find out and investigate this,” Ngige said.

The Ocholi family is working on some theories concerning the accident.

The family members believed that the driver of a car that somersaulted several times would ordinarily be unconscious and would not take photographs of the deceased and upload them on social media.

They also contended that the driver and the orderly should have cordoned off the place and evacuated the corpses as this had been the tradition whenever a VIP was involved in an accident.

Aliu said, “Distinguished Senator Ngige, I know you very well. When James Ocholi was told to work with you, I knew he was in good hands because the last time I saw you was in Anambra State. We ate with you in your house as a governor.

“This man that just died is not a lone person. We leave this responsibility in your care. Whoever recruited the driver and posted (redeploy) him should be investigated. It can happen to anybody, it can happen to any minister. It can happen because it has happened.

“So, we want to know who recruited the driver, and at what speed (he was during the trip) to the extent that the corpse of the deceased cannot even be recognised. Can you imagine that? I am worried, it is worrisome.”

He also shed light on his allegations later during a telephone interview.

Aliu added, “There was a kind of foul play in the whole exercise, which is very worrisome. Apparently, the driver who drove the car was the same person who took the photo of the dead man and sent it all over the Internet – whatsApp and others. So, the question is: how come that the driver of the vehicle in the same car was able to take the picture of the dead man?

“The side of the door, where the Honourable Minister sat, was not properly locked because after the car somersaulted, the thing flung him and so he had a terrible and fatal damage that his body was beyond recognition. There was a foul play in Ocholi’s death.

“While I was in his house, I already knew because those who conspired and plotted it (the death) became jittery because I have never been to that house and they don’t know me. But somehow, they became jittery, scared and worried.

“This thing they did is political, it is a political war and some people want to score some political points against the system somehow. The death of Ocholi is quite suspicious.

“So, I had to hurriedly leave because God has made me to know what happened and we know that they will get the people who are responsible. When you are innocent, God will always uncover how certain things happened. Ocholi’s death is a great loss to the common people of Nigeria. And the spirit of the common people of Nigeria is fighting back.

“The perpetrators want to derail the focus of this administration. They are looking for every way to put a wedge in the wheel of success. I can specifically pinpoint those who plotted these things. What they are trying to do now is to knock heads together and the earlier we get rid of them out of that place, the better.

“As we were there, they were trying to get the contacts of the ministers that came there for condolence, making phone calls and reporting back to whoever is their manipulator.

“They decided to get rid of Ocholi to derail the focus of the government. Ocholi was not smart enough to know that these things could happen. They have lost, failed and we will ask God to forgive them because they have taken a soul that they cannot create.”

The Federal Executive Council will on Wednesday hold a special session to pay tribute to the late Ocholi.

Credit: Punch