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Women You Should Know: Aloma Mariam Mukhtar

16th July 2012 was a memorable and an historic day in Nigeria; Nigeria had her first female Chief Justice, in the person of Aloma Mariam Mukthar, sworn in-by the then President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

Early Life and Education

Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, an indigene of Adamawa state, was born 20th November 1944 in the present day Kano state of Nigeria.[1]She began schooling in Zaria, attending St. George’s Primary School and St. Bartholomew’s School, Wusasa Zaria. She then proceeded to the United Kingdom to further her education, having attended Rossholme School for Girls, Somerset, England, Reading Technical College, Reading England, Gibson and Weldon College of Law, England.[2]She was then, called to the English Bar in 1966, and later called to the Nigerian Bar in June 1967.

Mukhtar and Her Many ‘Firsts’ as a Female

Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar has many ‘firsts’ to her name, especially with regards to her being a female. For example:

  • She is Northern Nigeria’s first female lawyer.
  • She is the first female Chief Registrar in Kano state Judiciary; this was in 1973.
  • Aloma Mariam Mukhtar is the first female Chief Judge of the High Court in Kano state.
  • Justice Mukhtar is also, the first female Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal of Nigeria.
  • She is actually the first female Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. (And not Roseline Ukeje, as assumed erroneously by some).[3]
  • And most notably of course, Aloma Mariam Mukhtar became the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Aloma Mariam Mukhtar

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The Chief Justice is the Head of the Judicial Arm of the Government of Nigeria, and presides over the country’s Supreme Court and National Judicial Council.[4]

Some Awards and Recognition

Having experienced an illustrious career, Justice Mukhtar’s awards are too numerous to be listed here. Some of those awards and honors however include that;

  • She was honoured by the federation of Women Lawyers in 1989, and also, by the International Association of Women Lawyers in 2003.
  • She was conferred with the Fellowship of the Nigerian Law School in 2004.[5]
  • Justice Mukhtar received The Gold Merit Award (for her contribution in the development of law in Kano state) in 1993.
  • She had her induction into the Nigerian Hall of Fame in 2005.
  • On the same day Justice Mukhtar was sworn in as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, she was conferred with the Nigerian National Honour of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).[6]
  • Justice Mukhtar is also a Life member of the International Association of Women Lawyers.

A woman of sterling character, Justice Mukhtar was one of the three judges (together with Justices Walter Onnoghen and George Oguntade), that nullified the 2007 presidential elections, that brought in late President Umaru Yar’Adua. Her ruling was based on the fact that, there were violations of the electoral laws, specifically, the non-serialization of ballot papers used for the Presidential election. This fact was sufficient enough to disqualify the election. However, their views (Three Justices of the Supeme Court) were overruled by the majority (Four Justices of the Supreme Court), who stated that, the non-compliance were not enough to invalidate the elections.[7]

 

Sources: The Scoop, Wikipedia, National Judicial Council, Ngozi Gold, Premium Times

Gretchen Bauer and Josephine Dawuni, Gender and the Judiciary in Africa: from Obscurity to Purity. (Routledge, 2015)

“First Female Chief Justice of Nigeria Sworn in, decorated GCON” in The Nation Newspaper (Nigeria; Vintage Press Limited), July 16, 2012.

 

Featured Image Source: Channels TV

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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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