There was anxiety and tension yesterday at the Memorial Mass of the late legal icon and eminent Jurist, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Oguta, in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State when his eldest son, Mr. Charles Oputa (aka Charley Boy) daringly denied politicians, including Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha from political speeches.
Charley Boy who wore a sullen and agonising look throughout the funeral mass attended by dignitaries from all walks of life, got up immediately the State Governor, Rochas Okorocha was called to make his speech, shortly after the Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan, barely finished reciting the President’s condolence message and aggressively snatched the microphone from the Governor.
The intervention of the presiding Priest and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, could not mitigate his anger as he insisted that no politician would take advantage of his father’s burial to score “cheap political” goals.
THISDAY recalls that Charley Boy had during a day of tribute organised by Imo State government three weeks ago, walked out on the Imo state Governor when he climbed the podium to make his speech.
Consequently the visibly angry Okorocha, stormed out of the Church in the company of his Commissioners and security aides and was besieged at the gate by angry supporters, who berated Charley Boy for humiliating the Governor.
Immediately after that, the crowd began to disperse, apparently for fear of possible breakdown of law and order as security men battled to bring the situation under control.
Earlier in his sermon, Bishop Mathew Kukah who acknowledged the virtues and character of the late Judge of the Supreme Court, admitted that, “to tolerate a son like Charley Boy by a man of late Justice Oputa’s reputation, is a measure of the greatness of the man”.
Calling on Nigerians to stand up in defence of Justice and Equity, the Bishop stated that the late Oputa was obsessed with the concept of justice and equity during his life time.
“Oputa before he died, was worried about the quality of Nigerian Lawyers and Judges because he believed in the Judiciary as the hope of the nation. Today his legacies are beyond his immediate family”, Kukah noted.
Dignitaries who graced the occasion include the Minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, former Anambra and Imo State Governors, Peter Obi and Ikedi Ohakim.
Others were Governors Okorocha (Imo), Willie Obiano (Anambra) Theodore Orji (Abia) and Senator Chris Ngige, among others.
Meanwhile, the Imo State government took exception to the incident that played out at the funeral church service for the late Justice Chikwudifu Oputa, at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Oguta.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor (media), Mr Sam Onwuemeodo said, “It is highly regrettable that the son of the late Justice, Mr Charles Emeka Oputa, aka, Charley Boy threw caution to the wind and turned the church service into a political theater that saw him acting or playing out the script he drafted in Abuja with some Imo politicians who have remained cowed by the overwhelming popularity of Governor Rochas Okorocha”.
He said that the Imo State governor had worked together with Mr. Charley Boy both when the late Justice was sick, until the time he died and the preparation for the burial which also encouraged the state governor to make substantial financial input and also organised a special day of tribute for the late Justice at the expense of state government with Charley Boy also present with other members of the family.