- Meet judges of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
The Supreme Court of Nigeria will commence hearings on the appeal by the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, on Monday, October 23, 2023.
Atiku, who came second in the 2023 presidential election, had approached the presidential election tribunal to nullify the February 25 election, in which the Independent National Electoral Commission declared President Bola Tinubu the winner.
The tribunal, however, dismissed the petition for lack of merit.
Dissatisfied with the lower court’s verdict, Atiku filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court Registrar, Zainab Garba, in a notice on Thursday, announced that Atiku’s appeal had been listed for hearing on Monday.
It read, “Take notice that the above appeal/motion will be listed for hearing before the Supreme Court of Nigeria sitting at Abuja on Monday, October 23, 2023.
“And further take notice that in accordance with Order 2 Rule 1(2) of the Supreme Court Rules 1985, as amended, this NOTICE is deemed sufficiently served on you if it is left at your address of service or sent by registered post and since the date of service by post is material, Section 26 of the Interpretation Act, 1964 shall apρly.”
ALL EYES ON THE JUDICIARY
For millions of Nigerians and international observers, with bated breath, many will stay glued to their digital devices on Monday for the proceedings at the apex court in Abuja, the nation’s political capital.
The curiosity mixed with anxiety is palpable from Port Harcourt in Southern Nigeria to Potiskum in the faraway Northern region and from Yola to Oyo as Nigerians turn their eyes to the judiciary for its verdict on the February 25, 2023 keenly contested presidential election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had put the total valid votes cast in the election as a little above 24 million.
The electoral umpire said the candidate of the All Progressives Congress and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, scored the highest number of votes — 8,794,726, almost two million votes more than his closest rival — former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party, who polled 6,984,520 votes.
The flag bearer of the Labour Party, Peter Obi finished the race with 6,101,533.
Tinubu and Atiku won 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states each, Obi clinched 11 states and the Federal Capital Territory while former Kano State Governor and candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Rabiu Kwankwaso, finished fourth, claiming victory in his state — Kano with 1,496,687 votes.
The four candidates also secured significant numbers in several other states.
INEC subsequently declared Tinubu as the winner of the poll on March 1, 2023, a victory vehemently rejected by Atiku and Obi as well as their millions of supporters.
On September 6, 2023, the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal upheld the election of President Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election.
The five-man panel of the Tribunal was led by Justice Haruna Tsammani.
According to Justice Tsammani, “This petition accordingly lacks merit. I affirm the return of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the duly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The parties are to bear their cost.”
Thereafter, the five-person panel of the Tribunal unanimously took turns to dismiss the petitions presented by Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi.
They included Justice Haruna Tsammani, Justice Stephen Adah, Justice Mistura Bolaji-Yusuf, Justice Boloukuoromo Ugo, and Justice Abba Mohammed.
Meet judges of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
The Supreme Court of Nigeria currently comprises 11 judges including the Chief Justice.
The Nigerian constitution stipulates that the Supreme Court of Nigeria should comprise a maximum of 21 judges, but the number of the justices who currently administer judgements at the apex court is far from what the constitution prescribes.
The retirement of Justice Amina Adamu Augie on Friday, September 22, 2023, reduced the number of jurists in Nigeria’s highest court to 11.
Here are the profiles of the 11 justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria including the Chief Justice, who exercises general control over the administration of the court.
Justice Olukayode Ariwoola
Olukayode Ariwoola is the Chief Justice of Nigeria. He was appointed a justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2011.
Born on August 22, 1958, in Iseyin, Oyo State, Ariwoola studied law at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), where he bagged his bachelor of laws degree with honours in July 1980.
In July 1981, he was called to the Nigerian bar and enrolled at the Supreme Court of Nigeria as a Solicitor and Advocate soon after that.
Following the resignation of former Chief Justice Muhammad Tanko in June 2022, the appointment of Ariwoola by former President Muhammadu Buhari as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was confirmed by the Senate in September 2022.
Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad
Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad was born in October 1953 in the Chanchaga local government area in Minna, Niger State.
The judge obtained his LLB (Hons) at Ahmadu Bello University in 1976, and his BL at the Nigerian Law School in 1977.
He proceeded to Warwick University Coventry UK for his LLM between 1982 and 1983 and also attended the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies where he obtained an Advanced Certificate in Practice and Procedure.
Justice Dattijo began his work career as a Higher Registrar at the High Court of Justice, Minna in 1976, after which he was appointed Magistrate Grade II in 1978 following his NYSC programme.
He rose to become the Chief Magistrate in 1984, and in 1986, he was appointed as the Chief Registrar and as Judge of the High Court, Niger State in 1989. He was elevated to the Supreme Court of Nigeria in July 2012.
Justice Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun
Born on May 7, 1958, Justice Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun obtained her LL.B in 1980 from the University of Lagos and her LL.M from the London School of Economic and Political Science in November 1983.
She was called to the Nigerian bar in July 1981 and was appointed a Senior Magistrate Grade II, Lagos State Judiciary in December 1989. In July 1996, she was appointed as a Judge of the High Court of Lagos State. Eight years later, she was elevated to the Court of Appeal.
Between 2011 and 2013, Justice Kekere-Ekun served as a member of the Court of Appeal ICT Committee, after which she was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on June 8, 2013.
Justice John Inyang Okoro
Justice John Inyang Okoro was born in July 1959 in the Nung Ukim, Ikono Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
He attended the School of Arts and Science in Uyo from 1979 to 1981 and the University of Lagos from 1981 to 1984. He also attended the Nigerian Law School, Lagos and was called to the Nigerian bar in 1985.
Justice Okoro started his legal career as a Magistrate Grade 11 in 1986 and rose through the Magisterial Cadre to become the Chief Magistrate Grade 1 in 1996, after which he was appointed as a judge of the High Court of Akwa Ibom State in 1998.
He was then elevated to the Court of Appeal in 2006 and then to the Supreme Court in November 2013.
Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji
Born in November 1956 in Gashua in Gombe State, Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji obtained a Diploma in Law from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1976 and subsequently, an LL.B Hons from the same institution in 1980. She was called to the bar in 1981 and commenced her career as State Counsel in 1982.
After her appointment as State Counsel in 1982, she rose through various positions becoming an Acting Senior State Counsel in 1984, Senior Magistrate II in 1986, Senior Magistrate I in 1987, Chief Magistrate II in 1989, Chief Magistrate I in 1991 and Chief Registrar in November 1991. She was appointed Higher Court Judge of Yobe State Judiciary in December 1991 making her the first Lady judge in the Yobe State Judiciary.
Before her elevation to the Supreme Court in January 2019, she was the presiding Justice, the Court of Appeal Kaduna Division, a position she held for four years. She is happily married with three children.
Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba
Justice Mohammed Garba Lawal hails from Gusau Local Government Area of Zamfara State. He was born in November 1958.
In 1980, he graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, where he studied Law, after which he proceeded to Nigerian Law School, Lagos, from 1980 to 1981 and the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (UNILAG) Akoka, Lagos in 1989. He was called to the Nigerian bar in 1981.
He commenced his legal career in 1981 at the Nigerian Air Force Headquarters, Lagos. He later served as Magistrate in the Sokoto State Judiciary from 1982 to 1986, Deputy Chief Registrar High Court of Justice, Sokoto State from 1989 to 1991.
After his appointment as Solicitor-General/Director-General Ministry of Justice Sokoto State from 1991 to 1993, he became a judge of the High Court of Justice, Sokoto State from 1993 to 1996. He served as Chief Judge, High Court of Justice, Zamfara State from 1996 to 2004. In 2004, he was elevated to the Court of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court in November 2020.
Justice Helen Morenikeji Ogunwumiju
Justice Helen Morenikeji Ogunwumiju was born in March 1957 in Ondo State. She graduated from the University of Lagos in 1977 and was called to the Nigerian bar in 1978.
She was appointed as a Chief Magistrate Grade 1 in Oyo State in 1991 and then served as Chief Magistrate in Ibadan, Ile-Ife, Eruwa, Igboora and Oyo Magisterial Districts.
In 1998, Justice Ogunwumiju became a judge of the High Court of Ondo State with jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters, after which she was elevated to the Court of Appeal, Nigeria in November 2005.
After serving as presiding justice from 2013 in Benin and Enugu Divisions of the Court of Appeal, she was promoted to the Supreme Court in November 2022.
Justice Ibrahim Mohammed Musa Saulawa
Born on September 29, 1956, in Katsina State, Justice Ibrahim Mohammed Musa Saulawa graduated in 1981, with a Bachelor of Law degree from Bayero University.
That same year, he proceeded to the Nigerian Law School in Lagos and was called to the Nigerian Bar in July 1982.
Justice Saulawa began his career with the Ministry of Justice in Kaduna State in August 1982. He served as Chief Magistrate, Katsina State between 1987 and 1991 and later as High Court Judge, Katsina State from 1994 to 2006.
He was elevated to the Bench of the Court of Appeal of Nigeria in 2010, and then to the Supreme Court in November 2020.
Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim
Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim was born in April 1960 in Cross Rivers State. He obtained his first Law degree at the University of Calabar and his LL.M from the University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom.
Agim was a Nigerian judge who was the Chief justice of Gambia from 2009 to 2013. He was a former Judge of the Supreme Court of the Gambia.
He was also a former justice at the Nigerian Courts of Appeal but now serves as a justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Justice Tijjani Abubakar
The profile of Justice Tijjani Abubakar is currently not available on the website of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Justice Adamu Jauro
The profile of Justice Adamu Jauro is equally not available on the apex court’s website.