The late Minister of State for Labour and Employment James Ocholi, must have died due to an accident caused by over speeding, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) said yesterday.
Ocholi died alongside his wife and son on Sunday on the Kaduna-Abuja road.
FRSC Corps Marshal Boboye Oyeyemi presented the accident’s Road Traffic Crash Investigation Interim Report to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over bbyy President Muhammadu Buhari.
The FEC was holding a valedictory session in honour of the late minister.
Oyeyemi also said that the impact of the accident was more on Ocholi and his family members who were seated at the rear seats because they were not using seat belts.
According to him, the driver of the vehicle was unlicensed
He said: “Information gathered revealed that the driver of the crashed vehicle was actually moving at excess of the stipulated speed when he had a tyre burst.
“The crashed vehicle driver was driving too fast and he slammed on his brake so hard. These two factors materially contributed to the inability of the driver to maintain control when the left rear tyre burst.
“Skid marks and grooves found on the westbound shoulder made by the Lexus LX570 for about 15m and 9.3m respectively before it began somersaulting several times and the ejection of the minister and his son, showed clearly that the travelling speed of the Lexus LX570 presented unsafe consequences in the event of certain road risk that may have occurred.”
Oyeyemi added: “The driver must have entered into a panic situation which resulted to his hard application of brakes and subsequent loss of control that took him into the bush path.
“The DOT number of the tyres were inward which cannot easily be read from outside. This indicate that the orientations of the tyres were not properly fixed, which could adversely affect the performance of the tyres.
“The Federal Road Safety Corps Investigation Team (FIT) determines that the probable cause of the March 6, 2016 fatal crash at KM34 Kaduna -Abuja expressway near Rijana village, Kaduna State was the driver’s failure to maintain directional control of his vehicle when the rear left tyre burst occurred.
“Severity of the fatality was increased due to the ejection of the minister and his son as a result of non use of rear seat belt.
“The corps recommended among other things, for “the certification and re-certification of convoy drivers at intervals of two years of issuance of convoy driver’s license.
“There was no record on the driver’s licence national data base of the driver of the Hon. Minister with the name Taiwo James Elegbede.”
“The ejection of the minister and his son who occupied the rear seat confirmed the fact that their rear seat belts were not in use and, on the contrary, the driver and the orderly survived because the front seats belt were in use.”
The FRSC chief said: “President Buhari is to lead the campaign on compliance with speed limits, starting with installation of speed limiting devises in commercial vehicles.”
Paying tribute to the late minister, Buhari said: “I was quite close to Ocholi. I was in same party with him in CPC and I began to respect his hardwork and humility. When he attempted to be governor of his state, I campaigned for him almost throughout all the local governments. But the system we are running, one will always keep on trying. He didn’t make it.
“And then the series of committees we were having. I recall one particular, ACN, CPC, ANPP, I think APGA and DPP, he represented us and what impressed me about him is that he agreed to serve under a junior lawyer to him.
“And that showed a lot of humility because I know of two professions, legal and military; they are very jealous about seniority… But he agreed to serve under a junior ACN lawyer, him being a SAN.
“Even his contribution here, whether they were memos from his ministry or not, he made substantial contributions. May his soul rest in peace.”
Six ministers from each geopolitical zones also paid tributes to the late Ocholi.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, whom Ocholi worked directly with, said his death was a colossal tragedy of unimaginable proportions.
He said: “We interracted last on Friday. He was mediating in trade dispute with JOHESU, health sector workers. His contributions usually stirred up intellectual discourse.
“He helped to fashion party constitution. He had capacity for hardwork and a good negotiator.
Death has created a huge void in the Ministry of Labour and Employment which is hard to fill.”
Minister of State for Health Osagie Ehanire said: “He had initiative; he was methodical and organized. He was a respectable man of character. Intensely serious, yet jovial. He was a consummate negotiator.”
While noting that Ocholi suffered severe injuries to the head, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh said: “His joining the CPC in Kogi in the early days showed his foresight and courage as opposition politics is not a party in the park but a marathon in the desert.
“Apart from being kind and resolute,” he said the late Ocholi literally suspended his law practice to drive the All Progressives Congress (APC) merger.
He noted that four persons from the accident were still on admission with various degree of injuries.
According to him, there will be automatic employment for two of the late Ocholi’s children who are university graduates. Scholarship up to university level will be given to the two remaining children who are students.
Buhari, at the meeting, signed the condolence register.
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