A few years ago, a jurist of the Enugu state bowed out of service on retirement. He left behind a message which has continued to resonate. Amah Baldwin was there.
After 42 years in Nigerians public Service, Justice Kingsley Ngwu Udeh
of the Enugu High Court bows out in grand style, but cautions his
colleagues in the bench against corruption, bribery and immorality. Justice Udeh stated that he kept his promise to remain incorruptible.
Justice Udeh decried corruption, positing that it has the tendency to
attract curse, afflictions and other unpleasant consequences on one’s life and on the family.
“You are investing curse on your children if you use bribe money to
train them,” he said without mincing words at a Valedictory Court session organized in his
honour by the Enugu State Judiciary.
Justice Kingsley Udeh told the large gathering of serving and retired
judges, lawyers, judicial staff and members of the public who thronged the Enugu High Court to honour him, that throughout his carrier as a
judge and minister in the temple of justice, he discharged his duties
with utmost honesty, diligence and credibility to the glory of God.
“I established a formidable wall of defense against even those who
attempted to come and express thanks for what they perceived as favour done for them.”
He was happy and delighted that the Enugu State judiciary parades disciplined, eminent and incorruptible jurists who can raise their heads anywhere, and paid tribute to the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Innocent Umezulike for the encouragement and freedom granted them to perform their duties.
Kingley Udeh who was Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General before
his elevation to the Bench noted that the Enugu State Ministry of
Justice has been a breeding and training ground for judicial officers
whose excellent and legendary performance is well known.
The speech by the Enugu State Chief Judge, Honourable Justice Innocent
Umezulike, OFR buttressed the self testimonial presented by the retiring judge.
Umezulike said: “His proficiency in the art of judging is clearly
manifested in the plethora of judgments and rulings he delivered on
the higher bench of Enugu State.
“He is clean and incorruptible. No litigant ever appeared before him
and feared or expressed concern about the rendition of justice. And no
lawyer ever appeared before him and doubted that the maze contructed
in his legal argument was not followed or understood.
According to Justice Umezulike, Kingsely Ude is a clean judge and
today he retired from the bench without a dot of blemish.
Justice Umezulike, asking others to take a cue added: “A critical
reading of Justice Kingsely Udeh’s judgments evinces the proclivity of
a strict constructionist. His judgments are devoid of unnecessary
homilies. They go straight to the issues upon which parties have
locked horns, declare the legal position and feel discharged. He
believes that homilies are for the pulpit rather than the bench.”
He recalled certain sensitive position assignments where Justice Udeh
Chairman, Judicial Commission of Enquiry into Enugu Ngwo Civil
Disturbances of Saturday 22nd January, 2005; Chairman, Judicial
commission of Enquiry into the Fraudlent selling of Land and other
Criminal Acts of Trespass in Enugu by the Nike community in 2006;
Member Kano state Election petitions Tribunal, 2007-2009; Chairman,
National and state Houses of Assembly Election Tribunal, Minna, Niger State April 2011-November 2011 among others.
The Enugu State Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary Ministry of
Justice, Barrister Victor Chukwudi Emeribe followed suit and described
as, “mini judgment,” Kingsley Udeh’s Legal opinion in those days at
“His elucidation of law and eloquence, his advocacy in court made him
outstanding among his colleagues,” Emeribe said.
Barrister Victor Emeribe went down memory lane to recall events in the
litigation Department with Udeh at the helm.
According to him, “In the Civil Litigation Department, Hon. Justice Kingsley Udeh and Hon. Justice Elvis Ahanonu of blessed memory revolutionized the system.
“As Head of Civil Litigation Department, my Lord and my Humble self in
1995 attended six (6) weeks course in Advanced Practice and Procedure
in the Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, then at the
University of Lagos, Akoka Lagos, and he came back to champion the
harmonization of the condition of service of law officers in Enugu
Barrister Emeribe announced that His Excellency, Barrister
Sullivan Chime graciously granted the harmonization, thanks to the
efforts of the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice,
Barrister Anthony Ani (SAN).
The solicitor General also delved into Kingsley Ude’s gallantry as a
soldier in the course of Nigeria – Biafra Civil War, explaining that like in the judiciary, he proved himself as a loyal and disciplined officer.
He noted that what stood the Judge out was that even as solicitor-General/Permanent Secretary, Kingsley Ude attended to his cases
pending in various High Courts, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court,
remarking that his experiences prepared him well for the role he played in the bench.
Others who spoke glowingly, praising the intellectual and erudition of the retiring High Court jurist include, the Chairmen
Nigerian Bar Association Enugu, Oji-River and Nsukka chapters as well as Chief Mrs. Justice Justina Offiah, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN and former Attorney General of Enugu State.