First female Abia judge laid to rest
The remains of Justice Ijeoma Uche (retd.), an eminent jurist and first female judge in Abia and the old Imo, was on Saturday laid to rest in her country home in Amankalu Igbere, Bende Local Government Area of Abia State.
Speaking during the funeral service by Jehovah’s Witness, a member of the congregation, Joseph Owolabi, extolled the virtues of the deceased, who passed on at the age of 84, saying that she devoted her life to the service of God and humanity.
Owolabi said that Uche demonstrated her love for Jehovah by serving Him faithfully, adding that she remained undaunted, notwithstanding her old age and feeble bones.
He said: “She loved Jehovah so much and worked tirelessly for Him. In spite of her old age and feeble bones, she never gave up.
“She remained faithful and committed in service to Jehovah and was submissive to her husband.”
Owolabi described her as a woman of integrity, uprightness, courage, honesty and virtue.
“She was dispassionate in her judgments and never abused her privileged position to acquire mundane material things,” he said.
He further testified that the deceased jurist “did a lot for Jehovah,” adding that she fought a good fight and finished well.
He said that her funeral should remind the living about the uncertainty of life and futility of material acquisition.
“Once a man breathes his last, forgets all he had. This is the futility of life,” Owolabi said.
He said that life had no meaning except one reconciled with his creator and utilised all he had to touch the lives of others positively.
“God is not going to call you because you are a president, governor, senator or the wealth you possessed.
“God is going to call you not because of the roads or houses you built for the people but because of how you lived your life in obedience to His word,” he said.
Owolabi therefore admonished Nigerians to emulate the exemplary life and good legacies left behind by the deceased, especially in her service to God and mankind.
Abia governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, represented by his deputy, Chief Ude Oko-Chukwu, said that the late jurist distinguished herself as a judge and mother.
He lauded her immense contributions to the development of the judiciary in the state, saying that Abia owed her a lot of gratitude.
Gov. Bindow Jibrilla of Adamawa, who was represented at the funeral by his deputy, Mr Martins Banbella, said that Uche’s death evoked mixed feelings of sadness and joy.
“Sadness because we will henceforth miss her invaluable qualities and joy because we are hopeful that we shall meet her again on the resurrection day.”
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the funeral service was attended by frontline politicians in Abia and other parts of Nigeria.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Chief Justice of the Federation, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen, Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, sent in glowing tribute on the deceased.
Others prominent Nigerians that sent in condolence messages to the bereaved family included the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, and Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Dayo Apata.
NAN recalls that the deceased was sworn in as a Chief Magistrate in 1985 in the old Imo and later elevated to a Judge.
She became the first female judge in Abia, after the state was carved out of Imo in 1991.
She was survived by four children, including two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) – Chris and Gordy – who are practicing in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. (NAN)