By Gbolahan Gbadamosi
For more than four hours, Supreme Court Justice M. Dattijo Muhammad, judges of the Court of Appeal, Federal High Court, Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Bar activists and traditional rulers recently in Abuja poured encomium on the former Chief Judge, Federal High Court, Justice Abdullahi Mustapha (OFR) during the book launch in his honour.
He retired constitutionally as Chief Judge on September 4, 2009.
The book: “Rethinking The Administration of Justice: Essays In Honour of Justice Abdullahi Mustapha, OFR, FCI, Arb,(Rtd) “ was co- edited by Rickey Tarfa (SAN), Prof. Lanre Fagbohun and Gbolahan Gbadamosi.
The ceremony which held inside the Zuma Hall of the New Rockview Hotel, Abuja was also to mark the 68th birthday anniversary of Justice Mustapha.
Among those who honoured the retired judicial officer are the current Chief Judge, Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim N. Auta, Mustapha’s successor in office, Justice Dan Abutu (rtd), Senator Isah Muhammad, Waziri of Nupe who represented His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr) Yayaha Abubakar (CFR), The Etsu Nupe and Chairman Niger State Council of Chiefs.
Leading the pack of praise was Justice Muhammad in his capacity as Chairman of the Day who described the honouree as “Man of many colours”. Guests after guests agreed that Justice Mustapha deserved the honour.
Deputy Director General, Nigerian Law School, Enugu Campus, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu who reviewed the 360 page book published by Dayo Alabi.
Treating the book chapter by chapter, Ojukwu stated that, “Rethinking the Administration of Justice” has 17 chapters of well-researched papers on various subjects of civil law and administration of justice”.
“The editors of this book rightly captured the history of Hon. Justice Mustapha on the Bench and they testified that “his years at the helm of affairs at the Federal High Court coincided with a period when the adjudicatory system of the court had become extremely slow, ineffective and highly frustrating for litigants. It was reasonable, therefore, to anticipate a critical re-evaluation and re-appraisal of the procedure of the court. Honourable Justice Abdullahi rose to the challenge. Does Hon. Justice Mustapha deserve this honour of a book in his name, or any other honour ?” Ojukwu asked.
Answering the question in the affirmative, he said, “ There are testimonies upon testimonies for Justice Mustapha’s dedication, brilliance, gentility, meekness, love and patience, and for keeping and upholding the rules of justice all the time.” I can personally testify that Justice Mustapha’s YES is YES and NO is NO.
He is a man of integrity who showed good examples on the Bench, in his conduct and also in the management of justice. He adjudicated with conscience. Justice Mustapha is a man of character. No other person deserves this honour, any more than him. I recommend Essays in Honour of Hon. Justice Abdullahi Mustapha, OFR, to all”.
From the tribe of members of the inner bar that came to honour Justice Mustapha are: Lucius Nwosu(a contributor), Chief Chris Uche, Chief Adeniyi Akintola, Dele Belgore, Yele Delano , Kunle Ogunba and Ahmed Raji. The Dame of the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA) and Fellow, Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa, University Centre, Geogetown, USA, Dame Carol Ajie, Baroyin of Yewa land, Chief Kayode Odunaro, Arc. Olusola Kayode also graced the event.
From the bench were Court of Appeal Justice Ali Gumel, Justices Adeniyi Ademola, Gladys Olotu,Yinka Faji (a contributor), Gabriel Kolawole (a contributor) Banjoko and the newly promoted Justice Stephen Adah to Court of Appeal.
Presenting the book was the President, Dangote Groups, Alhaji Aliko Dangote ably represented by Alhaji Isa Tata. Tata was also supported by Gen. Garba (rtd),Gen. Gana (rtd),Alhaji Ibrahim Dangana, Justice Aliyu Maiyaki of Niger State High Court.
After the cutting of the 68th birthday cake directed by Tarfa, Justice Mustapha in his remarks said he felt honoured to be present at the launching of the book put together by legal luminaries, including the highly distinguished academics, experienced and highly knowledgeable skilled judges as well as legal practitioners of the highest eminence and distinction.