Can they Make it Happen?

Zainab Bulkachuwa
Zainab Bulkachuwa

All eyes are now on Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, chief justice of Nigeria and Zainab Bulkachuwa, acting president, Court of Appeal, to use their esteemed positions to initiate measures that will sanitise Nigeria’s judicial system

|  By Ishaya Ibrahim  |  Dec. 10, 2012 @ 01:00 GMT

FIRST, it was Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, born 20 November 1944, who first made history as the first woman Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN. She was appointed into that position as the highest judicial officer in Nigeria in July 2012.  Now, Zainab Bulkachuwa, another woman, is sitting atop the court of appeal. She was sworn-in as the acting president of the Court of Appeal, PCA, on November 23. She succeeded Justice Dalhatu Adamu, whose 15 month tenure recently elapsed. These two women now call the shots in the Nigerian judiciary. Can they clean the rot that has characterised the judicial system in Nigeria?

Expectations are now high that with Mukhtar and Bulkachuwa holding the two crucial positions in the Nigerian Judiciary, they might make the necessary clean-up required to make it the last hope of the common man. Esther Enwemuche, a Lagos-based lawyer, believes that the two women would achieve that feat. “Women are focused, discipline and result orientated.  When they take up a project, they do it with passion until they get result”, she said.

Aloma Mariam Mukhtar
Aloma Mariam Mukhtar

But for Abdulazeez Ibrahim, a Kaduna-based lawyer, there is nothing special in having women as both the CJN and the PCA. For him, the gender of the judge does not matter because the rules are there for them to follow. “It is a matter of coincidence that Bulkachuwa is now the PCA”, he said, adding that since Ayo Salami, the suspended PCA, has neither resigned nor been dismissed as the PCA, Bulkachuwa was the next in rank to continue acting in that capacity until the Salami issue is resolved, even though Salami might soon be retiring from the judiciary owing to his age.

Abdulazeez also faulted the argument that the appointment of the women was hinged on the women-friendly policies of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.  He said the judiciary uses hierarchy and that President Jonathan is only lucky to have the two women reaching the peak of their professions during his administration

Bulkachuwa, who was born on March 6, 1950, hails from Gombe state. She was called to the bar on July, 15, 1976 after her law programme. Before she became the PCA, she was a high court judge in Bauchi state and later rose to become the Chief Judge of Gombe state in 1996.

Mukhtar is from Kano State. She attended St. George’s Primary School, Zaria, St. Bartholomew’s School, Wusasa, Zaria, Rossholme School for Girls, East Brent, Somerset, England. She also attended Reading Technical College, Reading, Berkshire, England, and Gibson and Weldon College of Law, England, before being called to the English Bar in 1966 and later the Nigerian Bar in 1967.

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