The death has been confirmed of former Supreme Court Justice and father of Charly Boy, Chukwudifu Akunne Oputa, on Sunday afternoon at the age of 96.
The late Justice Oputa has been described by his colleagues at the Supreme Court as the ‘Socrates of the Supreme Court’.
His death was confirmed by his eldest son, Mr. Charles Oputa, also known as ‘Charly Boy’ when contacted by newsmen yesterday.
Charly Boy also confirmed that the late jurist suffered a stroke from which he was thought to be recovering until he died yesterday.
He had earlier, sent a text message, saying: “The family of Justice Chukwudifu Oputa wishes to announce the passing to glory of the eminent jurist and a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria at the age of 96 years.
“He passed on peacefully on Sunday afternoon May 4, 2014, after recovering from a brief illness. Funeral announcements will be released by the family.”
Justice Oputa was born to Chief Oputa Izukwu and Madam Nwanetu Oputa on September 22, 1924 in Oguta, Imo State. He attended Sacred Heart School, Oguta and Christ the King College, Onitsha, Anambra State.
After his primary and secondary education, he went to the Yaba Higher College, Lagos, but due to the second World War, was sent along with others to the famous Achimota College, Ghana, then Gold Coast. There he graduated B.Sc (Hon) Economics in 1945. After this he returned to Nigeria and took up a teaching appointment with Calabari National College. He later came to Lagos where he worked as an ADO (Assistant District Officer).
Justice Oputa then proceeded to London where he got his LLB (Hon) and was called to Bar in Gray’s Inn, London.
Upon his return to Nigeria, Oputa went into practice, handling such celebrated cases and special inquiries as the Oguta Chieftaincy dispute 1958/ 59, the Amanyanabo Dispute 1956/ 60 and many more.
In 1966, he was appointed Judge of the High Court of the then Eastern Nigeria and later appointed as the first Chief Judge of Imo State 10 years later. In 1984, he was appointed Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. He retired from the Supreme Court in 1989.
He was appointed by the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo, to head an investigate panel into human rights abuses during military rule in Nigeria, hence the name ‘Oputa panel’.