After many years of service to their fatherland, it is not certain where they could be at the moment; ELEOJO IDACHABA wonders in this report.
Justice James Ogebe, a retired Supreme Court judge, was also a Chief Justice of Benue state. He was born on March 22, 1940, and went through primary school in Igumale and Katsina-Ala all in Benue between 1946 and 1955. Thereafter, the quest for secondary education took him to the famous Government College, Keffi, and thereafter to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, between 1963 and 1967, where he studied Law. He was called to the Bar on June 28, 1968. He joined the civil service as a state counsel in the Ministry of Justice in the former Benue-Plateau state in 1968, and began the long and steady progression through the ranks until he became the acting director of public prosecutions in 1971.
Ogebe eventually climbed to the judicial arm of the government in 1974, and held several positions, including the acting Chief Judge of the state in September 1987. On October 31, 1991, he was further elevated in the judicial hierarchy when he was appointed a justice of the Court of Appeal and sworn in on December 3, 1991. He was eventually elevated to the Supreme Court in 2008. While in that capacity, he spoke extensively against same-sex marriage, capital punishment and others. However, his career almost got messed up because of the controversial ruling he gave about the 2007 presidential election which the winner himself, the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, admitted was flawed. He was the chairman of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which accepted to validate the said heavily-flawed April 2007 election.
Justice Ogebe, who led a pack of justices of the Court of Appeal to declare the election free and fair, could not attend the final session when the panel was to give its ruling because he was said to have compromised. He allegedly left the job to one Justice John Fabiyi, whose performance was, according to analysts, both ‘comical and hysterical.’ Since he left the Bench, not much has been heard about him again.
Colonel Yakubu Bako (retd.) was an officer in the Nigeria Army before he retired some years in 1997. Prior to his retirement, he was the military administrator of Akwa Ibom state, precisely from December 1993 to August 1996, during the military regime of the late General Sani Abacha. After being appointed as Akwa Ibom administrator in December 1993, Bako developed infrastructure in the Bakassi area of the state which unfortunately was ceded to Cross River state. It’s on record that while he was the military administrator of that state, he built the first ever-state liaison office (Akwa Ibom House) in Abuja. Although a Muslim, he established Akwa Ibom State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board and was the first governor to send 50 Christians to Jerusalem, Israel on pilgrimage.
He built the present state-of-the-art University of Uyo Teaching Hospital; thereafter, he retrieved from the natives the land being used for farming and developed the present Ibom Le Meridien Golf Course. While reeling on his achievements as the man behind the golf course, he said in an interview that, “Sometime in 1994, the Calabar Golf Course had an amateur golf tournament and the then military governor of the state, Group Capt. Ibrahim Kefas, invited me as a guest of honour in my capacity as governor. After the tournament, while returning to Uyo, I asked the then commissioner for works, Engr. Akan Udi, to look for land where Akwa lbom state can also build a golf course. I was made to understand that an area in Nwaniba in the outskirts of Uyo had been acquired for the development of a golf course by the administration of Group Capt. ldongesit Nkanga, but it was being used as a cassava farm by the villagers. I came around with some commissioners and visited the site. I gathered all the farmers and asked them not to plant any new crop after harvesting their crops in the designated area.
“Towards the end of the year, 1994, the construction of the golf course began and the contract was given to one Engr. Etuk, an Akwa lbom indigene, who was also a golfer. The first nine holes made of brown putting areas were completed around June 1995. By December 1995, an 18-hole (brown putting areas) was completed. I also constructed four chalets by the golf course, a club house and a lawn tennis court to attract tourists and visitors of the Mobil Oil Company at Eket.
“Thereafter, Engr. Etuk was given the contract to maintain the course on a yearly basis. I left and handed over to Navy Capt. Joseph Adelusi in 1996, and he continued with the course maintenance payment. Group Capt. John Ebiye, from 1998, also continued with the payment.”
It was gathered that he was instrumental to drawing up the blueprint for the eventual development of the state. Bako was in December 1997 implicated in the alleged coup against Gen. Abacha and was jailed alongside others like the former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya. However, in March 1999, he was among the convicted individuals that were granted clemency and released from detention. In 2003, former President Olusegun Obasanjo granted him full pardon. Since he was granted pardon, he has not been visible in the public square.
Mrs. Nenadi Usman is the former minister of state for finance and as senior minister in the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and later a senator representing Kaduna South on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). She had served as a member Kaduna state caucus of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) and was also a member-elect of the House of Representatives, representing Kachia/Kagarko Federal Constituency under the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) in 1998. Nenadi was a commissioner in Kaduna state from 1999 to 2002, where she swapped portfolios in different ministries before she was appointed as a minister.
She was the coordinator, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo Campaign Committee in Kaduna state. As a senator, she pushed for the government to give more attention to women and children whom she referred to as the most vulnerable members of society and to that extent, she played a major role in women empowerment through the formation of a no-governmental organisation (NGO), Education and Empowerment for Women, which was sited at Jere in Kaduna state. It’s, however, not clear if the NGO still exists. For her alleged role in the campaign funds of the 2015 general elections, she was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 17-count money laundering and theft charge alongside others. Of late, nothing has been heard from or about her.