Retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Andrew Otutu Obaseki, yesterday denied newspaper reports that he rejected the national honour bestowed on him recently by the Federal Government.
Obaseki also made available a copy of a letter he sent to President Goodluck Jonathan through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, thanking the President for approving the award.
Titled: “Re-2012 National Honours Award,” and dated September 4, 2012, the acceptance letter was made available to The Guardian on Wednesday by his son, Ikpomwonsa Obaseki.
The letter signed by the retired justice of the Supreme Court reads: “Reference your letter No. SGF.50/S.27/11 dated August 27th, 2012 informing me of the approval of Mr. President for the honour of the rank of CFR. Kindly convey to Mr. President my gratitude for the approval.”
He added: “Due to the condition of my health, it is not possible for me to travel to Abuja to receive personally the award/investiture.
“I therefore crave your indulgence to permit one of my children to appear personally and receive the award on my behalf, in the person of Mr. Ikpomwonsa Obaseki, who will appear and receive the award on my behalf. Once again, I thank My President for the honour.”
In an email forwarded to The Guardian yesterday, Ikpomwonsa Obaseki explained in details how he travelled to Abuja but was prevented from receiving the award on behalf of his father.
Ikpomwonsa, who is also the Head/ Market Operations Department, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), said: “My dad said I should represent him at the award ceremony as he would not be attending due to health reasons. I arrived Abuja Sunday morning with my wife and headed straight for the accreditation venue, Agura Hotel.
“On getting there, I gave the staff doing the accreditation a copy of the letter from the Secretary to the Federal Government informing my dad of the award and a letter from my dad to the government accepting the award and also informing them that due to ill health he would not be attending the ceremony and that his son, Ikponmwosa Obaseki, would be receiving the award on his behalf.
“I met one Mr. Suleiman who collected my letters and asked me to register my name in a note book. He then called his boss, one Mr. Charles to have a look at my letters.
“Charles said I cannot collect the award on behalf of my father since I was not the recipient of the award. I am not allowed to shake hands with the President since I am not the recipient. I can come on Tuesday, 18th September after the award to collect the award at their office.
“I then asked why they did not reply my dad’s letter he had sent two weeks ago accepting the award. They should have replied and indicated that I would not be allowed to collect the award on behalf of my dad. He said if they had replied I might not have gotten it before the ceremony.
“He said the only thing they could do for me, after I said I had come all the way from Lagos, was to allow my wife and I attend the ceremony as guests and that we would not take part in any of the events.
“I was given two invitation cards and then I left the accreditation Centre for Transcorp Hilton, where I stayed.
“I was told to call their boss, the SFG later and that he would be at the accreditation venue. When we called later, they said he had come and left and he still maintained that I could not receive the award on behalf of the recipient.
“At the ceremony, the MC announced, when it got to my dad and his former colleague, Justice Esho’s turn to be presented with the award, that both were unavoidably absent and that the chairman of the award ceremony Justice Belgore had offered to get the awards sent to both retired Supreme Court Justices, Justice A.O. Obaseki and Justice Kayode Esho.”