The former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloysius Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu, has passed on. He was 76 years old.
The ex-CJN reportedly died yesterday morning at an Abuja hospital after a brief illness.
Katsina-Alu, who hailed from Ushongo Local Government Area of Benue State, was the CJN between 2009 to 2011.
The senior special assistant to the CJN on media, Mr. Awassam Bassey, in a statement, said the death of the former CJN was confirmed while the present CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, was in Canada.
The statement read, “A few of our colleagues have called this morning (from about 3:30am Montreal, Canadian time) to seek confirmation of the death of former Chief Justice Katsina-Alu.
“I can confirm that the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Mrs. Hadizatu Mustapha, sent me a message to that effect about an hour ago confirming the death of the former CJN.
“I have just called the Chief Registrar to confirm that this is indeed the situation. Also, the Personal Assistant of the former CJN called her at 3pm Nigerian time to inform her of the demise.
“However, it’s 3:30am here in Montreal, Canada, Canada where Justice Walter Onnoghen, GCON, and other Justices of the Supreme Court and Chief Judges of some states are attending a conference organised by the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law, and I haven’t yet contacted the Hon. CJN for his reaction.”
LEADERSHIP recalls that the late Justice Katsina-Alu was the first CJN to be sworn in by his predecessor, Justice Legbo Kutigi (rtd) due to the unavailability of the then ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, who did not hand over state authority to then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan.
Katsina-Alu’s tenure as the CJN was also marked by his controversial battle with the then President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami (retd), who was later controversially suspended by the National Judicial Council, headed by Justice Katsina-Alu.
…PMB, Saraki, Others Mourn
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President Bukola have sent condolences to the family and friends of the late former Chief Justice of Nigeria.
President Buhari, in a statement by his senior special assistant on media, Garba Shehu, joined the the government and people of Benue State, the Nigerian Bar Association and the National Judicial Council in mourning the erudite jurist, who contributed immensely to the structuring of Nigeria’s jurisprudence.
The President affirmed that Justice Katsina-Alu’s knowledge, experience and diligence impacted greatly on governance in Nigeria as he featured prominently in landmark cases.
Shehu said, “President Buhari believes the late Chief Justice left behind a legacy of discipline, brilliance and diligence that younger jurists should emulate. The president prays that the almighty God grant the soul of the departed a good rest and comfort his family.”
On his part, Senate President Bukola Saraki, expressed deep sorrow at the death of the former CJN, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu.
Saraki, in a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, described the late justice as a patriotic and diligent public servant whose many well considered judgements enriched the nation’s jurisprudence and contributed immensely to national development.
He commiserated with the immediate family of the deceased, the Tiv nation, the judiciary, the government and people of Benue State of the sad incident.
Saraki said: “We have lost a worthy and exemplary Nigerian. We have lost a legal luminary whose numerous contributions to the development of the nation’s judiciary cannot be quantified.
“It is regrettable that he left us at a time his experience and wise counsel would have been invaluable in tackling critical national challenges confronting the country.”
Saraki prayed to God to grant the soul of the late CJN peaceful rest and his family and loved ones the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
Also, the All Progressives Congress (APC) deeply mourned the death of Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu.
The party also commiserated with his immediate family, the people and government of Benue State, over what it described as “the sad and irreparable loss of this great statesman, legal luminary and patriot”.
In a statement signed by the APC’s national publicity secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the party recalled that Katsina-Alu, who served as Chief Justice of Nigeria from December 30, 2009 to August 28, 2011, was an impartial and thorough judge, adding that his contributions to the development of the Nigerian legal system cannot be quantified with the delivery of numerous landmark judgements, many legal papers and mentoring of several young lawyers.
“As a statesman, the late Katsina-Alu often put national interest above self and other considerations. We have indeed lost a good man who was non-partisan, honest and frank.
“He will be sorely missed, especially now that the country needs his wise counsel and stabilising voice. May his soul rest in peace,” the party said.
In his reaction, Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has said that the death of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu has thrown the state into sadness and mourning.
Governor Ortom described the late Justice Katsina-Alu as a peace-loving man, patriot and father who built bridges for many others to cross.
A statement by the chief press secretary to the governor, Terver Akase, said, the demise of the former Chief Justice is a huge blow to Benue State in particular and a loss to the entire country.
Governor Ortom stated that Justice Katsina-Alu was among selfless Nigerians who upheld the truth, equity and fairness in service to the country.
The governor, however, prayed for the soul of the eminent jurist, just as he commiserated with the bereaved family, asking God to grant them the strength to bear the irreparable loss.
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