The President, Goodluck Jonathan, has sent Mariam Aloma Mukhtar’s name to the Senate for confirmation as the next Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN). The President also sent the names of Justices Kumai Akaah and Atanley Allagoa to the Senate for confirmation as justices of the apex court.
By her appointment, Mrs. Mukhtar who is considered by many lawyers as a person of strong will and character, will become the first female head of the Nigerian judiciary.
The Kano born jurist is however, not new to pioneering as she was the first woman to be appointed Judge at the court of appeal (in September, 1987).
Mrs. Mukhtar, who was called to the Nigerian bar in 1967, a year after she was called to the English bar, was also the first female to be appointed Justice of the Supreme Court, in 2005.
She is at present, one of only three female justices of the apex court, the others being Olufunlola Adekeye and Mary Odili (wife of indicted former governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili).
Mrs. Mukhtar will succeed Dahiru Mustapher, who will retire on July 15, having reached the mandatory retirement age of 70. She is expected to be in office until November 2014 when she would also retire, after turning 70 years.
Mrs. Mukhtar will best be remembered for being one of the three judges who nullified the 2007 presidential elections that brought in late President Umaru Yar’Adua. Along with George Oguntade and Walter Onnoghen, Mrs. Mukhtar ruled that the several violations of the electoral law particularly non serialization of ballot papers used for the Presidential election, was enough to disqualify the election.
Their views were however in the minority as the majority of four Supreme Court justices ruled that the non-compliance, though existed, were not enough to invalidate the elections. Several revelations including statements made by top Peoples Democratic Party members to former American Ambassador, Robin Sanders, however showed that the apex court judges were bribed to rule in favour of the late President.
Mrs. Mukhtar will be sworn in after her confirmation by the Senate