From Magnus Eze, Abuja
The atmosphere of disbelief pervaded the Kado Estate home of late Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, James Ocholi (SAN), yesterday.
By 3:00pm, the palpable state of consternation that had earlier prevailed the No 4, Mohammed Daggash Street residence of the late minister and adjourning streets switched to a prayerful mood later on.
Different Christian groups held prayers intermittently. By 6.30pm when Daily Sun left the residence, sympathisers from all parts of the country continued to throng the residence.
The four surviving children of the Ocholis: Ojene, Amos and their two other siblings were thoroughly devastated. Daily Sun gathered that the late minister’s first son, Aaronwould have been part of the ill-fated trip to Kaduna but for a dislocation he suffered in one of his legs, shortly before the trip.
Former accountant general of Kogi State, Mr. Paul Audu, who coordinated the reception of sympathisers on behalf of the family, told the Minister of Interior, Lt. General Abdulrahman Dambazau, who visited the home, that Aaronwould have joined other family members on the trip.
He said it was divine intervention that pulled him back from death. The second son, Joshua, was, however, not lucky.
The first child of the family, Susan, a graduate of Business Administration based in Lagos was a ghost of her old self. She was only able to nod as sympathisers consoled her and Aaron.
Amos, a young lawyer, who is currently a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, in one of the leading law firms in Lagos, could hardly utter a word too.
Flanked by a horde of sympathisers and extended family members, Aaron, in an emotion-laden voice, managed to thank the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria for identifying with the family in this devastating period.
Notable callers at the Ocholi Residence
It was a roll-call of who-is-who in Nigeria who went to console the Ocholis.
Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Mohammad Bello, his counterpart of Sports and Youths Development, Mr. Solomon Dalung, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri (who said he became closer to Ocholi as his colleague in the Federal Executive Council), Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase and Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi were some notable Nigerians who visited the family yesterday.
Others were 31 members of the Body of SANs, led by Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), including Chief Alex Iziyon (SAN), Chief Chris Uche (SAN), J. K. Dadzama, Jibrin Ketepa (SAN) and Prof. Maxwell Gidadou to mention by a few.
Asiwaju Awomolo, who spoke on behalf of the Body of SANs, told the bereaved family that the late minister was a reliable lawyer and assured them that the group will join other well-meaning Nigerians to give their dead colleague a befitting funeral.
Dambazau, in company with heads of Immigration Service, Federal Fire Service, National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Nigeria Prison Service commiserated with the bereaved family.
He said his late colleague died in active service; hence, his ministry and agencies under his control would do everything within their reach to support the family.
Meanwhile, families of the late couple were billed to meet last night to commence burial arrangements.