Written by Ere-ebi AGEDAH

How Justice Karibi-Whyte died …Buhari, Omo-Agege, Jonathan, Amaechi, others mourn

Just as details of his passing continue to emerge, President Mohammadu Buhari, his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, were among several eminent Nigerians who have expressed their condolences on the passing of Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, an eminent jurist and former Justice of the Supreme Court.






According to his eldest son, Gogo Karibi-Whyte, a Lagos Lawyer, Justice Karibi-Whyte died from heart related complications at a Specialist hospital in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, last Friday, May 22. He was 88 years old.

Also speaking, his daughter, Mrs. Tonye Edosomwan, said her father took ill last Thursday evening and was taken to the hospital on Friday morning where he was attended to by some health experts.

He passed on at about 6.30pm same day. Mrs Edosomwan said, “My mother was by his bedside at the hospital when my father passed on. He was a great father. He doted on his children and grand-children. We will miss him.”  

The late legal icon was at one time a judge at the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia based at the Hague. He also served as chairman of the Nigerian Constitutional Conference between 1994 and 1995.

In a condolence message, President Muhammadu Buhari prayed that God will comfort all who mourn Karibi-Whyte, especially his family, the academia, Nigerian Bar Association and Body of Benchers, friends and associates, commending his contributions to law and jurisprudence in the country, and beyond, leaving a legacy of integrity and nationalism.

In the statement signed by presidential spokesperson, Mr. Femi Adesina, “President Buhari notes, with deep conviction, that the legal luminary used his knowledge, wisdom and experience in serving the nation he loved so much, working diligently as a scholar for many years, before transiting to the judiciary, and pursuing his passion of ensuring fairness through the Federal Revenue Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Nigeria,” the statement said.

“The president believes the erudite jurist lived and led by example, set a standard for resourcefulness and patriotism, and brought honour to the country, praying that the almighty God will grant his soul a peaceful rest.”

In his own condolence message, Chief Ovie Omo-Agege, the Deputy Senate President, said the late Justice Karibi-Whyte will be remembered for his impactful contributions to law.

In a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yomi Odunuga, Omo-Agege said that the loss is mitigated by warm memories of Karibi-Whyte’s profound and impactful contributions at state, national and international levels.

Senator Omo- Agege said, “He lived a long, highly productive life but even upon his exit at 88, the retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Professor of Law… profoundly impacted Rivers State, Nigeria and the global community with his cerebral contributions in his chosen field.

Also, former President Goodluck Jonathan expressed sadness over the passing on of Justice Karibi-Whyte.

He described the late justice as an eminent jurist and bright scholar who contributed so much to the progress of Nigeria’s jurisprudence.

In a condolence message to the Karibi-Whyte family and the government and people of Rivers State, Jonathan said: “Justice Karibi-Whyte stood out as an accomplished scholar and consummate jurist who commanded a vast and nuanced knowledge and understanding of the principles of law.

“He stood unmistakably on the side of equity and fairness and he will be remembered for his landmark pronouncements on the bench and their implications for the growth of our justice system. 

“He was also a distinguished and prolific academic whose broad-based works will continue to illuminate the path of scholarship across generations.”

Similarly, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, expressed profound sadness and pain over the demise of Karibi-Whyte.

Amaechi, in a statement on Saturday in Abuja, referred to the deceased as ‘a father and a great advisor’.

During his time as governor of Rivers State, Amaechi appointed Karibi-Whyte Pro Chancellor of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, RSUST, to strengthen the institution’s education and values.

The minister said: “Justice Karibi-Whyte, for me, was a father figure. He was an exemplary personality, a great advisor and I have the utmost respect for him.

“During his tenure as Pro Chancellor of RSUST where he brought his astute disposition and intellect to bear, there was a remarkable turnaround in the quality of education and handling of affairs in the institution.

“He was also a key member of the State’s Economic Advisory Council when I was governor and my administration and Rivers State benefited richly from his wealth of experience and expertise.

“As a Justice of the Supreme Court, he was very upright, fearless and upheld the rule of law.

“He was a colossus and great teacher. I will miss him deeply. Rivers State and Nigeria just lost a good man, a great man.”

Also, a former senator who represented Rivers South-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Magnus Abe, condoled with the judiciary in Nigeria and the Whyte family over the death of Karibi-Whyte.

A statement by his spokesperson, Parry Saroh Benson said, the senator received with sadness this news of the passing of one of Africa’s foremost international jurist and legal luminary, Justice Adolphus Karibi Whyte.

He averred that the loss of this great and capable mind at a time of grave crisis in the world when his wisdom, wealth of experience and calm fatherly disposition would have been invaluable to our country was painful indeed.

He described the late legal icon as an accomplished lawyer, teacher, a man of character and proven integrity whose immense contribution to the development of the judiciary in Nigeria would never be forgotten.

“Justice Adolphus Karibi Whyte meant different things to different people, to me, he was a father, a friend, and a counselor. I was mesmerized by his passion and commitment to justice.

“Although the final chapter in the life and times of this great jurist is now closed, there are many gifts and life-changing lessons that his life of service has bequeathed to humanity.

“We join his family and admirers across Nigeria to mourn the passing of a great man,” he said.

Also on Sunday, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun Adegboruwa, paid tribute to the fallen jurist.

He said: “In the death of Hon Justice Karibi-Whyte, Nigeria has lost a foremost jurist and a fearless adjudicator with a robust intellectual mind.

“He was full of wits, wisdom and judicial stamina to tackle most cases that he participated in, either in writing the leading judgment, supporting judgment or dissenting judgment.”









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