Some Abuja-based lawyers on Wednesday described the death of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, as shocking and irreparable loss to the nation.
Katsina-Alu, who died on July 18, was born Aug.28 1941, and sworn in as the CJN on Dec. 30, 2009 and retired on Aug. 28, 2011.
Mr Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said that he was shocked when news of the death filtered to him.
Ozekhome described Justice Katsina-Alu as a great jurist who was very uncompromising, incorruptible, extremely bold and courageous as well as a great Nigerian patriot who upheld the tenets of pure and undiluted justice.
“He was very humane, kind, considerate, with a large heart and a very deep penetrating hearing capacity.
“It is a personal loss to me because I was quite close to him and he was one of those I looked up to at the apex court to do justice to the many serious cases that came before the Supreme Court.
“His death is a great and an irreparable loss to the Nigerian judiciary, the Nigerian nation as a whole and to his family, friends and admirers and mentees like us.
Similarly, Mr Sebastian Hon (SAN), in a statement made available to NAN, said that the sudden demise of Katsina-Alu had sent deep shock to all who knew his enormous contributions to justice administration in Nigeria.
According to him, his 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.”
Hon described the late Katsina-Alu as a very upright man, whose brief stay as CJN saw to the peaking of welfare packages for staff of the judiciary, especially his colleagues on the Supreme Court Bench.
The senior advocate also said that the late former CJN was a God fearing man who opened his doors to the poor and needy.
He added that although he achieved many landmarks by being the first at many things, he remained humble and selfless.
“His lordship was the first Tiv-speaking Attorney-General of Benue, the first Tiv-speaking judge of the Benue 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,” Hon said.
Mr Anthony Ekuma, also described Katsina-Alu’s death as shocking, adding that “to me as a person, he was one of our erudite scholar.
“His death is a signal that we are losing a cream of our best brains in the judiciary.
“Even though retired, he was still there for us to consult for direction and with his death the link is gone,” Ekuma said.
Another lawyer, Mr Anthony Agbonlahor, described the former CJN as a great man, passionate and an erudite scholar as well as a reformer.
“He brought in some reforms which his successors built upon,” Agbonlahor said.