BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA – In his bid to quell the controversy trailing the elevation of wife of former governor of Rivers State, Justice Mary Peter Odili, to the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, yesterday, insisted that the decision was taken to meet the 35% affirmative action promised women by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The CJN, who made this discloure while swearing-in two new justices of the Supreme Court in Abuja yesterday, said he was delighted by the fact that the decision increased the number of female justices in the apex court bench to three.
Administering oath of office on the newly appointed Justices of the Supreme Court, Justice Odili and Justice N. S Ngwuta, the CJN maintained that the action had “no doubt met the yearning and aspirations of women in Nigeria and, indeed, the world over.”
According to him, “this day is, indeed, significant because we have just witnessed the swearing-in of another female Justice of this Honourable court, Hon. Justice Mary Peter-Odili.
“This brings to three the number of female Justices in the Supreme Court of Nigeria. You may wish to recall that on the 8th June, 2005, the first female Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, was sworn-in.”
Justice Olufunlola Oyelola Adekeye, who was elevated to the apex court in March 2009, completes the list of female jurists currently on the bench.
Tasking the new justices to shun every form of judicial malpractice, the CJN said he was confident that they would discharge their duties in accordance with the oath of office they subscribed to yesterday.
“The work of the Supreme Court, as you all know, is very demanding and, ,at the same time, very challenging. I am pretty sure you are equal to the task. It, therefore, behoves you to join hands with your brother justices of this court in order to continue to sustain the confidence of the general public and the judiciary.
“The code of conduct for judicial officers is there always to guide you. I have every confidence that you will not fail this court and nation. I urge you to strive hard to discharge your duties in accordance with the oath of office you have subscribed to, having the fear of Almighty God in your hearts and always following the dictates of your conscience,” he added.
The duo, before yesterday, served as justices of the Appeal Court.
Their appointment has increased the total number of justices at the apex court bench to 15.
They were recommended for the position by the National Judicial Council, NJC, following the recent retirement from service of Justices G. A. Oguntade, J.O. Ogebe, Nikli Tobi and I.F. Ogbuagu.