Chief John Ochoga: Celebrating an Idoma treasure at 68

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By Okanga Agila

Not many Nigerians have enjoyed illustrious careers in law, public service and politics. It is almost impossible to find a son or daughter of Idomaland with such rich pedigree in these spheres. But Chief John A. A Ochoga stands tall unblemished.

Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, George Akume, described him as “a man of immense political courage, wisdom and commitment to his convictions and inclination to democracy, good governance, whose impact remains a significant and permanent signpost in the history and development of Benue State and beyond”.

Born on August 7th 1953, Chief Ochoga hails from Apa-Agila in Ado Local Government Area of Benue State. At an early age, he developed an interest in law and took an unusual path to pursue his dreams. Perhaps the young John drew inspiration from Paul Acheme Anyebe, Morgan Ogbole and Joe Omakwu.

After attending Wesley High School, Otukpo and Boys Secondary School, Gindiri in Benue and Plateau States respectively, the aspiring lawyer headed for the University of lfe, lle-lfe in 1973 and attended the Nigerian Law School, Lagos. In 1977, he was called to the Nigerian Bar and hasn’t looked back ever since.

In the legal profession, Chief Ochoga rose to become a Life Bencher alongside some other distinguished Nigerians including Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. The Body of Benchers in the Nigerian Legal Profession consists of persons of the highest distinction and established by the dint of Section 3 of the Legal Practitioners Act which is “responsible for the formal call to the Bar of persons seeking to become legal practitioners” in Nigeria.

Chief Ochoga served as a member of the Benue State Judicial Service Commission. He is also the leader of Otukpo branch of the Nigerian Bar Association which has Barrister George Abah as chairman.

As an administrator, he has handled numerous national assignments with aplomb. He was part of the Local Government Reform Committee set up on June 17, 2003, and headed by Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Umaru Sanda Ndayako as the Chairman. More recently, Barr Ochoga headed the 2021 Visitation Presidential to the Federal Polytechnic Ado-Ekiti.

Ochoga is the chairman of the All Progressives Congress zone C Elders/stakeholders forum. The _Akpa-Olofu_ clocked 68 today and last month marked 45 years post-call as a lawyer. Hearty cheers to the jewel of Zone C.

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