LEGAL icon and Chairman of the defunct Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO), Justice Victor Erereko Ovie-Whiskey (88), passed on yesterday at Agbarho, his home town in Ughelli North Local Council of Delta State.
He had been bed-ridden due to protracted illness, it was learnt.
He was believed to have died yesterday afternoon at Ekotor Clinic at Agharho.
Born on April 6,1924, Justice Ovie-Whiskey was FEDECO chairman between 1980 and 1983, appointed by Nigeria ’s first Executive President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, to succeed Chief Michael Ani.
The former High Court Judge attended Kings College, Lagos and then the University College, Ibadan (later called University of Ibadan ) where he studied Law.
He was called to Bar in 1952 and eventually went into full-time legal practice in 1960. He was elevated as a magistrate in the defunct Western Region.
He rose to become the Chief Judge of old Bendel State before he was appointed the chairman of FEDECO.
A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Thompson Okpoko (SAN), described Ovie-Whiskey as “a perfect gentleman” who tried his best during his days in legal practice and as FEDECO chairman.
“He was an old man and an excellent gentleman to the core. He was also a man of principle who related with people just as he did not allow his personal interest, either from his family or friend to affect his judgment,” Okpoko said.
Elder John Onojakpor, Secretary General of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) described the late justice “as one of the few honest and patriotic Nigerians who had the opportunity to amass wealth as FEDECO chairman but chose instead to serve his father land conscientiously.”
He enjoyed a quiet life in retirement in Agbarho.
A father of eight females and a male, he never showed any regret about the sex ratio of his children. He told The Guardian once that at retirement, his crowd of female children contributed money and built for him a better house where he lived (till death).
He recalled that as Nigeria’s electoral boss, he was insulated from the reality outside and it was not until he left office that he realized the rot to which Nigeria had degenerated. As chairman of the FEDECO in the Second Republic, he was alarmed at claims that he had compromised the body under pressure from politicians of the then NPN.
Following an allegation that he took a N1 million bribe (then equivalent of one million dollars) to swing the 1983 election in favour of the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN), he was quoted as saying he would faint if he set his eyes on that kind of money.
At old age, he involved himself in community service, spending much of his time adjudicating in family matters as well as the church.
Ovie Whiskey had a most fulfilling career. He had practiced law briefly upon his call to the British Bar before joining the then Midwest region Judiciary as a judge. He recalled being the judge at the Warri High Court when Chief Tony Anenih was the District Police Officer (DPO) of the police formation in the neighbourhood.
A strict judicial officer who dispensed justice completely under a blind fold, the story was told of when one of the parties to a case cajoled his mother to his court hoping to secure the sympathy of the judge by that action. On sighting his mother in the courtroom, Ovie Whiskey ordered her out and actually told his orderly to enforce the order.
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