A former Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa has passed on. The legal icon reportedly died on Sunday, May 4, 2014, at the National Hospital, Abuja at 96.
The late Jurist, who would have been 96 in August 22, 2014, suffered a relapse of the stroke he had in February this year and was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Born on August 22, 1924, in Oguta, Imo State. Justice Oputa had his early education at the Sacred Heart School, Oguta and Christ the King College, Onitsha. He attended the then Yaba Higher College, but due to the exigencies of the Second World War, he was sent along with others to the famous Achimota College, Ghana, then Gold Coast, where he graduated with B.Sc (Hons) Economics in 1945.
He came back to Nigeria and took up a teaching appointment with Kalabari National College. He later came to Lagos where he worked as an Assistant District Officer (ADO). It was here that he achieved a remarkable feat as he studied at home and obtained his BA (Hons) History.
Justice Oputa proceeded to London where he bagged his LLB (Hons) and was called to the Bar in Gray’s Inn, London. Upon his return to Nigeria, he went into private practice, handling such celebrated cases and special inquiries as the Oguta Chieftaincy Dispute 1958/59, the Amanyanabo Dispute 1956/60 and others. In 1966, Justice Oputa was appointed judge of the High Court of the then Eastern Nigeria and moved on to become the first Chief Judge of Imo State. In 1984, he was elevated to the Supreme Court, from where he retired in 1989.
The late Oputa would be remembered for chairing the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission (HRVIC), otherwise known as the Oputa Panel. The late legal icon, was often referred to as the Socrates of the Supreme Court during an era that was regarded as the golden era.
He is survived by his wife, 92 years old Mrs Margaret Oputa and children, among whom is the popular musician, Charles Oputa, aka Charly Boy.
– FOLUSO SAMUEL