The Senate has confirmed Justice Aloma Mukhtar as Chief Justice of Nigeria, she makes history as the first woman to hold the position. She takes over from retiring Justice Dahiru Musdapher, who is bowing out on July 15, having reached the mandatory age of 70. The President forwarded the nomination of the woman who was also the first female lawyer in the northern part of the country to the Senate for confirmation last Wednesday in conformity with the 1999 Constitution.
Her nomination has got the nod of the Senate after the usual drilling at the hollowed chambers of the Senate. She comes in at a time the judiciary is in need of reforms, while also satisfying the yearnings and aspirations of not a few Nigerians particularly women, clamouring for more gender balance in appointments.
The Kano State born judicial officer makes history as the first female, CJN. All the past CJN were men. Mukhtar, 68, was also the first woman to become a Supreme Court judge in 2005. She had also earlier made history as the first woman to be appointed into appeal court.
The new CJN was one of the three judges – with a minority vote – who sought to nullify the 2007 presidential elections that brought in late President Umaru Yar’Adua, when they averred that the several violations of the electoral law particularly non serialisation 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.
Justice Muktar is a member of the Federation of Women Lawyers, FWL. She was also the vice president of the National Association of Women Judges of Nigeria. In 1989, Muktar was honoured by the FWL and in 1991, the Kano State government decorated her with a Gold Merit Award. In 2003 she was again honoured by the International Association of Women Lawyers, and in 2004, the fellowship of the Nigerian Law School was conferred on her.