Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, is dead. He died in a London hospital yesterday after a brief illness.
His eldest son, Sani Kutigi, confirmed this in Minna yesterday, saying “we are making arrangements to transport our father back for burial”.
The late Kutigi left behind 18 children and over 40 grandchildren.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen also confirmed the death of one of his predecessors, Justice Kutigi.
A statement issued yesterday by Onnoghen’s media aide, Awassam Bassey, said Kutigi died, in a London hospital at the age of 78 years.
He said Onnoghen who commiserated with the deceased’s family directed that the national flag be flown at half-mast in all judicial institutions.
The statement reads: “The Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon. Mr. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, GCON, has received with sadness the news of the demise of His Lordship, the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Mr. Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, GCON, who died in a London hospital on Saturday, 20th October, 2018 at the age of 78 years.
“The CJN, on behalf of the Nigerian Judiciary and, indeed, all Nigerians, commiserates with the family of the deceased former CJN and urges them to take solace in the fact that their patriarch lived to the fullness of age and served his country diligently, rising to become the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the highest office in the third arm of government.
“As a mark of deserved honour to the deceased jurist, the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria has directed that the Nigerian national flag in the premises of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the CJN’s official residence in the Three Arms Zone of Abuja, all Judiciary institutions including the National Judicial Council (NJC), the National Judicial Institute (NJI) and the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), as well as all Courts of Records in the country, should be flown at half-mast for a duration of seven days.
“Similarly, the CJN has instructed the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court to open condolence registers at both foyers of the court to enable Honourable Justices of the court and other well-wishers pay their last respects to the deceased Justice Kutigi, who was Chief Justice of Nigeria from 30th January, 2007 to 31st December, 2009”.
PMB, Saraki, PDP, ACF Mourn
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday condoled with the Kutigi family on the death of the CJN.
In a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, the president also commiserated with members of the judiciary and legal profession, the government and people of Niger State on the death of the eminent jurist, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1992 and named as Chief Justice in 2007.
Adesina said the president joined them in mourning the elder statesman who will be long remembered and honoured for his visionary roles and contributions in the advances our country has made towards building a strong, independent and impartial judiciary, which is sine qua non for democracy to thrive.
The presidential spokesman stated: “Throughout his career in the apex court, President Buhari believes that the former CJN’s bold and articulate judicial decisions, advocacies on access to justice for all and protection of judicial independence are extant signposts for the advancement of the noble profession in the country and beyond.
“The President urges all who mourn the late jurist to honour his memory by working for a better and just society, in addition to upholding the virtues associated with him during his lifetime of long and dedicated service to the nation.
“The President prays almighty God to comfort Kutigi’s family, friends and associates and grant eternal rest to the soul of the departed”.
Also, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday expressed sadness over the death of former CJN Kutigi, describing him as an honourable jurist who spent his life in the service of his country and humanity.
Saraki, in a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated that the death of the jurist is a colossal loss, particularly coming at a time when his experience, dedication and knowledge were required in the service of the country.
He stated that the late Justice Kutigi would be remembered for his high sense of integrity, incisive judgements, reform-mindedness and immense contributions to national development.
“It saddens me that we have lost a vivacious, humane and tireless jurist who, even in retirement, was called upon by former President Goodluck Jonathan to chair the Sovereign National Conference in 2014. We shall all miss him,” Saraki stated.
The President of the Senate commiserated with the immediate family of the deceased and urged them to be consoled by the praise-worthy lifestyle of the departed statesman.
On its part, the apex Northern socio-cultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), described the late Kutigi as an embodiment of hardwork and selfless service who was committed to the unity of Nigeria.
ACF, in a condolence statement signed by its national publicity secretary Mohammad Ibrahim Biu, said the forum learnt with grief and total submission to the will of Almighty Allah, the passing on of Kutigi.
According to the statement, Late Justice Idris Kutigi was an eloquent jurist who held various positions in the legal profession and excelled to its peak as the Chief Justice of Nigeria from January 2007 to December 2009.
“He was a member of the ACF Board of Patrons and contributed immensely by his wise counsel and participation in the Forum’s activities”.
Also, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday said it was deeply saddened by the news of the demise of the late eminent jurist, legal luminary and former CJN, describing his death as a huge loss to the nation and the Judiciary.
The party, in a statement, said Justice Kutigi was an outstanding administrator; a fearless, impartial and firm judicial officer, who upheld justice and the law in all his assignments at the bench.
The statement signed by the national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted: “As the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Kutigi ensured the independence of the judiciary as an arm of government and contributed in no little way in providing direction to our nation at very critical moments in our national development.
“Beside his incisive judgments, Nigerians will always remember Justice Kutigi’s forthrightness as the Chairman of the 2014 Constitutional Conference, which made far-reaching recommendations for the development and stability of our nation.
“The PDP is grief-stricken that this noble Nigerian left the stage at the time his wealth of experience is needed the most”.