PROFILES: The seven justices who will determine Atiku’s fate at Supreme Court

Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed. Chief Justice of Nigeria
Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed. Chief Justice of Nigeria

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court named a seven-member panel to hear the appeal by Nigeria’s main opposition party, PDP, against the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr Buhari was declared the winner of the February election by the electoral commission, INEC. Atiku Abubakar of the PDP came second in the election.

Mr Abubakar and the PDP challenged the results of the election. They claimed, among others, that Mr Buhari lied about his educational qualification and that election results on an INEC server showed Mr Abubakar won the election.

The presidential election tribunal dismissed all the grounds of the appeal by Mr Abubakar and the PDP and validated Mr Buhari’s election victory.

The appellants, however, approached the Supreme Court which on Wednesday named the seven members that would hear the appeal.

The panel is made up of six men and one women and is led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad.

The seven members are listed below along with their profiles largely sourced from the Supreme Court website.

CJN Tanko Muhammad

Justice Tanko Muhammad, CFR, JSC was born on the 31st of December 1953. He hails from Doguwa, Giade Local Government Area of Bauchi State. He attended primary school at Giade Primary School from 1961 to 1968. He proceeded to Government Secondary School, Azare from 1969 to 1973. He then proceeded to Abdullahi Bayero University College, Kano for his IJMB from 1975 to 1976. After a successful completion of his course, He got admission to read Law at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria from 1976 to 1980. He attended Nigerian Law School from 1980 to 1981. In furtherance of his educational career, he went back to the prestigious ABU, Zaria for his Masters Degree in Law (LLM) on Part Time basis, from 1982 to 1984. In order to update himself in the field of Law, he went back to ABU, Zaria in 1987 to 1998 and obtained his Doctorate Degree (PhD) in Law, also on Part Time basis.

Mr Muhammad, CFR, JSC was appointed as Magistrate Grade II in 1982 to 1984 with Bauchi State Judiciary. He rose to Senior Magistrate Grade II from 1984 to 1986. He was appointed as the Provost, College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Bauchi from 1986 to 1989. He was appointed Chief Magistrate/Deputy Chief Registrar, High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja from 1990 to 1991. From 1991 to 1993, he served as a Kadi (Judge) of the Sharia Court of Appeal, Bauchi State. He was elevated to the position of Justice of the Court of Appeal from 1993 to 2006. He was appointed as Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the year 2006 and was sworn-in on the 8th of January 2007. He became the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council on Thursday, 25th July 2019.

Bode Rhodes-Vivour

Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour was born to the family of Mr and Mrs Akinwunmi Rhodes-Vivour in 1951, in Lagos Island. He obtained his First School Leaving Certificate in 1963.

He went on to attend St Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos, where he obtained his West African Examination Council (WAEC) Certificate in 1968, and the Higher School Certificate (HSC) in 1970, before proceeding to the University of Lagos where he graduated in 1974 with an LLB Honors.

Olabode Rhodes-Vivour attended the Lagos Law School and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1975. He started his career as a Pupil State Counsel in 1976, and in 1978 he became a State Counsel and rose to become a Senior state Counsel by 1982. He was promoted to the position of Principal State Counsel in 1984, and by 1989 his hard work and career progression had earned him the position of Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Lagos State, a position which he held until 1994.

Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour was appointed to the bench as a Judge of the High Court of Justice, Lagos State, on 18th February, 1994. His distinct attributes of service led to his elevation to the Appeal Court on 25th April, 2005.

In 2008, on Secondment by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he was posted to Sierra Leone Judiciary as Justice of the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, whereupon his return in September, 2010, he was appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Mr Rhodes-Vivour has attended various International and Professional conferences within and outside the country. He is a recipient of many notable awards amongst which are –

  • Lagos State Judiciary Merit Awards in recognition of invaluable service to the High Court of Lagos state (2003).
  • Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFR 2012).
  • Life Bencher (2016)

His hobbies are reading, watching sports, movies and documentaries. He is married to Mrs Adedoyin Rhodes-Vivour and they are blessed with (3) three children.

Kayode Ariwoola

Justice Olukayode Ariwoola was born on August 22, 1954.

Prior to becoming a Justice of the Supreme Court, he was appointed a judge of the Oyo State High Court in 1992 and later made a Justice of the Court of Appeal in November 2005.
On November 22, 2011, he was appointed to the bench of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as Justice.

He is also a Member of the Nigerian Bar Association, the International Bar Association, and the Nigerian Body of Benchers

Amiru Sanusi

Justice Amiru Sanusi was born in February 1950. He is an indigene of Katsina State. He bagged a Bachelors Degree in Law from Ahmadu Bello University and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1978.  Prior to becoming a Justice of the Supreme Court, he served as a judge in his home state, Katsina from 1990 to 1998, before he was promoted to the Court of Appeal in December 1998.

He has the national award of Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR). He was sworn-in as a Supreme Court judge on May 14, 2015, at the Supreme Court Complex.

John Okoro

John Inyang Okoro was born July 7, 1959). His appointment as justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria was confirmed by the Senate on October 2013. He was sworn in on November 15, 2014, by Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, the then Chief Justice of Nigeria.

In 2016, Mr Okoro was one of the judges arrested by the State Security Service in a controversial raid on judges’ homes. He later said he was being persecuted by the SSS because he refused a bribe from the current transportation minister, Rotimi Amaechi.

Ejembi Eko

Ejembi Eko was born May 23, 1952. His appointment as Supreme Court judge was approved by the Senate in October 2016 after which he was sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court in 2016.

Uwani Abba-Aji

Born November 1956 in Gashua, Yobe State, Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji was sworn in as Supreme Court judge in January. She thus became the seventh woman to sit at Nigeria’s Supreme Court and second from the North East after Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi.

Called to the Bar in 1981, She started from Central Primary School, Gashua and later Government Girls Secondary School, Maiduguri now Government Girls College. She then proceeded to the Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria between 1974 and 1976 where she obtained a diploma in law. She later acquired an LLB (1980) from the same institution. After serving at various cadres, from Clerical Assistant, Area Courts Division in 1973 to Acting Chief Registrar, High Court of Yobe State, November to December 1991, Ms Abba Aji was appointed as a High Court Judge on December 18, 1991. She was there until September 22, 2004, when she was called up to serve at the Court of Appeal.

She is the only woman in the Supreme Court panel hearing the election petition appeal by Mr Abubakar and the PDP.

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