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Tribute: Former Commissioner Remembers Late Minister, Ocholi SAN

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Tribute to a Legal Luminary, An Exceptional Nationalist, Ocholi Enojo James, SAN.

Remembering my mentor’s life, I get back to only one thought – the vanity of life itself. No other man lived as much true to his passion and beliefs than Ocholi Enojo James, SAN whose passion and beliefs remained justice and progress respectively.

He was my boss and a teacher of all things. His method was simple – leading by example. Irrespective of circumstance, when faced with an ethical dilemma, after reflection, study and cross examination, I find my thoughts around one question; What would SAN have said or done? His doggedness is the foundation of my conscience and that’s why he forever lives in my heart.

The memories of Ocholi Enojo James, SAN with me are endless but, I will share just a few.

He was strong in body, in spirit, and in commitment. He never missed a single action of work from consultation to appreciation and his perfect diligence in this regard is the first lesson to acquire under his tutelage.

He never lets another man down. He fulfilled every obligation he ever undertook. His word was his bond, and everyone knew it. I never heard him utter a lie, nor intentionally deceive. At most, He’ll say, except God wishes otherwise.

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He was self-made and self-reliant.

From his education to his career, from his profession with every kind of evidence that could fashion a conviction or case, judgement or understanding, my Boss engaged with the legal profession as a man who would be its master and master he became the day He addressed the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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He was proud to be a lawyer. Having relished the good things in life including art and music, travel and photography, food and wine, friends and family, business and politics etc, he rose to become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN) and that suffice to say he reached the peak of his career.

Ocholi Enojo James, SAN could disagree with anybody but he never made an enemy. Not even one. While he most surely came across a few people he couldn’t countenance, he solved the problem by simply avoiding them. He always insisted that violence never solved any problem. As a progressive, the nation was his foremost interest and God bearing him witness of this, took his life while in the service of Nigeria as the Honorable Minister of State for Labor and Empowerment.

My Boss gave me a parting gift. Although he didn’t know he was going to die that weekend; before he travelled, to be sure his confidant would live to continue from wherever he was going to stop, the last words I was blessed to hear from him as I prepare travelling home for weekend while he was travelling to Kaduna was the same words he often tells me when I am faced with challenges… “Believe in yourself”.

Rest on, Boss. It’s been four years of your demise but you still live on and I will forever believe in myself.

… Adieu SAN.
– Prince Sani Ogu Salisu
Immediate Past Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development in Kogi State.


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