A requiem mass organised for the late Socrates of the Supreme Court, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa at his country home in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State was disrupted on Friday, when the first son of the deceased, Charles Oputa, a.k.a Charly Boy prevented Governor Rochas Okorocha from paying tribute to his father.
Eye witnesses said that the mass which was conducted by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rt Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Oguta, went on smoothly until Okorocha was permitted by the Bishop to pay his tribute to the fallen judge.
Trouble started when Okorocha was stopped midway into his speech, by Charley Boy who was visibly infruriated with Kukah for granting the governor the permission to speak.
Charly Boy had walked up angrily to the altar and snatched the micro-phone from the governor, to the embarrassment of all the dignitaries present, including the representative of President Goodluck Jonathan, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Governors Willie Obiano (Anambra), Theodore Orji (Abia); the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha and former governors of Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige and Peter Obi respectively.
Sources said that the intervention of Bishop Kukah could not assuage Charley Boy’s anger as he insisted that no politician would take advantage of his father’s burial to score “cheap political” goals and insisted that the Governor should not speak at the event.
However, obviously embarrassed by Charley Boy’s action, the Governor and members his entourage hurriedly left the church service mid -way, despite entreaties from the officiating Bishop Kukah for them to stay on.
Sources said that Charley Boy’s action followed a recent statement by Government House, Owerri, to the effect that the Oputa family was given N20 million to assist it in the burial arrangements.
Despite the announcement, close family relation told our correspondent that “the family never received a dime from either Okorocha or the state government, not to talk of the alleged N20 million said to have been made available to them”
However, a statement by the Senior Special Assistant, SSA, Media, to Governor Okorocha, Sam Onwuemodo, described the incident that played out at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Oguta, as “ugly and regrettable.”
“It is highly regrettable that the son of the late Justice, Charles Emeka Oputa, aka, Charley Boy, threw caution to the wind and turned the church service into a political theatre that saw him acting or playing out the script he drafted in Abuja with some Imo politicians, who have remained cowed by the overwhelming popularity of Governor Rochas Okorocha.”
Onwuemeodo insisted that the state government made “substantial financial input and also organized a special day of tributes for the late Justice Oputa at the expense of state government which Charly Boy also attended with other members of the family.
”We condemn that ugly incident and also wish to advise politicians from the state to stop heating up the polity over power since God is the giver of power. In 2015, God will decide who will be governor of Imo State and when God decides that, there is nothing anybody can do about it.”