The Ojise of Asaba and brother-in-law to former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), Chief Sunny Okogwu, is dead.
Okogwu was the elder brother of the late Maryam Bababgida and president of Black Gold Company Limited.
The Kaduna-based businessman and philanthropist reportedly died in a hospital in Abuja of an undisclosed illness at about 8:00p.m. on Saturday. He was in his early 80s.
A young man who claimed to be one of the sons of Okogwu and gave his name as Michael, confirmed the death of the former presidential candidate of the Republican Party of Nigeria in the 2007 presidential election.
The Ship House Residence of Okogwu on Ilorin road, Marafa estate, Kaduna, was quiet when The Guardian visited yesterday.
A guard, 63-year-old Yunusa Jibrin, confirmed the death of the late businessman.
The guard said: “The death of Chief Okogwu is a great loss to the ordinary Nigerians who benefited from his humanitarian gestures.
I have been with him since 1982 and he treated me like a son even though I am a Muslim.
“Despite my religion, he never discriminated against me. We members of the Sabon-Gaya Community in Chikun Local Government Area will miss him.
He brought development to the community. We will never forget him,” he said.
In his reaction, the lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial district, Senator Shehu Sani, said the death of Okogwu was a great loss to the people of Kaduna.
He described the deceased as an outstanding philanthropist and businessman who had touched the lives of the poor.
“For decades, his home became a hub for the needy and the downtrodden.
He was a true nationalist and a patriot who lived a life of service to humanity. He was ‘a poor man’s rich man’.
For those of us who were born or grew up in Kaduna, we can attest to his material intervention in all facets of life, aimed at uplifting the life of the ‘have nots’.
“ Okogwu built a ship house that became an ark for the marginalized and the underprivileged.
He was a Nigerian from Delta State who choose to live in the north in defiance to all sentiments, crisis and seasons of bloodshed that characterized and marked our history.”