Nigeria’s first female Chief Justice pledges to lead by example, insists no need for special court
By Victor Iluyemi
July 16, 2012 16:35:45pm GMT
Justice Maryam Aloma Mukhtar
Abuja (WorldStage Newsonline)-- Nigeria's first female Chief Justice, Justice Maryam Aloma Mukhtar was sworn-in on Monday in Abuja.
She is the first female lawyer in the former Northern Region, first female High Court Judge in the North, first female Justice of the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court.
Besides, President Goodluck Jonathan who presided over the event also conferred on Justice Mukhtar who is Nigeria’s 13th CJN national honour of Grand Commander of Niger (GCON).
She took over from Justice Dahiru Musdapher, who was also present at the history making event.
At the history making event, the first Lady of the country, Dame Patience Jonathan and female ministers were in attendance to celebrate with Justice Mukhtar.
Beside the Vice President, Namadi Sambo who was in attendance, the Senate President, Senator David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, Deputy Senate president Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ehedioha, Governors of Kano and Bayelsa were also at the Presidential Council Chambers to grace the occasion.
The President in his remark described the ceremony as "historic" and also advised the new CJN to quickly settle down for the urgent task of reform of the Nigerian judiciary.
While noting that the three arms of government must work together to tackle emerging national challenges like terrorism and corruption, the he advised the new CJN to consider dedicating judges for the trial of cases of corruption and terrorism or special courts using though at her prerogatives.
The President, who also described Justice Mukhtar as a woman of destiny, however noted that she owed her rise to brilliance, resilience and hard work, while assuring her of Federal Government cooperation and support in the discharge of her duties.
He said, "Today, we are witness to history with the swearing in of Justice Aloma Murkta as the first female CJN. I joined million of our country men, female and youth in congratulating the Nigerian judiciary and your lordship as we record this important milestone in the annals of our nation judicial history. Although this administration has remained focused in projecting women, the learned CJN achieved this outstanding feet on account of her brilliance, resilience and hard work.
“Our administration will continue to accord excellence and give it its deserved place in the service of our nation. Ladies and gentlemen, there is the hand of destiny in the life of this distinguished jury. From the records, her lordship has always been a trailblazer in her judicial journey. She was the first female lawyer of the northern extraction, the first female High Court Judge from the north, first female second in command, Kano state judiciary, the first Nigerian female jury to be elevated to the court of Appeal where she served for over 17years at the appellate court.
"Today, she has risen to the pinnacle of her judicial carrier as the first female CJN in further service of our great country. My lord, I congratulate you. Her lordship achievement is an inspiration to all citizens especially womanhood not only in Nigeria but also in Africa and the rest of the world.
"The honourable CJN now join an eminent and exclusive list of achievers recognized throughout the world as beacon of hope in this century. She will after leaving office become a member of our nation's highest advisory council, the Council of State. Here again she will make history as the first female permanent member of that council.
"We are confident that this exceptional achievement will herald an era of institutional transformation in judicial activism and strengthened our socio-economic and political system.
"Your lordship is assuming office at a time when the nation is undergoing reforms in all critical areas of governance; it is particularly gratifying that her lordship had pledged during her senate confirmation hearing to pursue judicial reform.
“I am therefore confident that your lordship will quickly settle down to work and commence urgent task of reforming and repositioning the judiciary for effective and efficient discharge of constitutional mandate. I have no doubt that your work at our nation's apex court will benefit from your essential character of integrity, humility and courage.
"Your lordship will preside over the judiciary at a time of profound changes that demand united response. We believe that judiciary can play a crucial role as we confront critical challenges.
" We are dealing with security challenges occasioned by sporadic act of terrorism in some part of the country. The three arm of government must work co operatively to overcome this terrorist treat and act in the country.
" The war against corruption is another endeavor that calls for concerted action by all arms of government. I am confident that the judiciary under your able leadership will rise up to the challenge and provide the most needed support for government to address these challenges. Our citizens complained of delayed trial particularly in cases of corruption, terrorism and other matters of serious concern.
“This complains has led to frequent calls for special courts or designation of special judges to handle them with the required experience and speed. It will be your prerogative to consider and decide on this call. But I am sure that the entire country is in agreement that justice delayed is justice denied. I believe that an independent judiciary remains the final hope of our citizen. The independent of our judiciary is critical to our development and survival. Every bold and positive step you take in our march to nationhood is important.
“Your lordship should apply the instrument of your hallowed office to ensure timely justice delivery to make manifestly claim that substantive justice will never be sacrifice on the altar of procedural technicality, impunity must have no place in progressive Nigeria.
“Your lordship, Justice Aloma Mukhtar, as you assume office as the 13th indigenous CJN, be rest assured of our continued support and cooperation. May the Almighty God grant you wisdom and good health as you discharge the function of you office, “he said.
He commended the immediate past CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher for his effort within the short period he stayed in office, saying, "I will like to place on record our immense gratitude to the immediate past CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, despite his short tenure, he made spirited efforts to restore public confidence in our court. We wish Justice Musdapher a well deserved retirement and hoe that he will avail his wealth of experience in the continue service of our nation especially as he is now a member of Council of State.”
Speaking to State House Correspondents, at the end of the ceremony, Justice Mukhtar, re-iterated her earlier stand during her clearance at the Senate that there was no need for a special court.
According to her, “I think I talked about that at the Senate that there is no need for a special court. A judge, two or three in the states can be designated to take care of that. I will again go back to what I said in the Senate, that I will lead by example and I will hope and pray that the others will follow."
On security challenges she said, "I did say during my screening in the Senate that we will partner with the authority to ensure that we curb this menace.”
On delayed trials she said, "That one is not the fault of the judges alone. We have counsels to contend with bringing various applications. We have the Constitution also to contend with. Witnesses will not be available and there is a whole litany of reasons for this delay. You just place the blame at the doorsteps of the judges.”
When asked on what she was bringing to the table she said, “When the time comes, you will see what it is that I am bringing."