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What could have been Justice Ijeoma Jumbo- Offor’s offence that day? Maybe… her gele was too big. Or was her entourage too large? Was she overly excited? I know!

It must have been her jewellery! Yup! Bigger rocks will do it every single time! Guaranteed to bring out the ‘green monster claws, fangs et all! Pedestrian you say? You’d be amazed at how pedestrian and petty our people can be.

The appointment of any judge is a process that commences with recommendations, shortlisting, nomination, appointment before swearing and the assumption of office. And I suppose that somewhere in between ‘shortlisting and nomination’ there will be security checks. Four stages where the powers that be could have decided that she was not fit for the post. Why wait till the most embarrassing moment to tell her she was being cut from the list not because she had been found derelict or wanting but because some 20 odd years ago, she decided to marry a man from Abia? Like many have asked; was this famous ‘petition’ received that morning? You can’t blame the conspiracy theorists; when something makes no logical sense, then one is forced to look for reasons elsewhere.

When did they discover she was not an indigene of Abia State, a fact that did not get in the way of a 14- year meritorious service? And there I was thinking that at least we wait until a woman is widowed before fleecing her! What message are you passing across to professional career women? I am good enough to be put to work but not good enough to reap the benefits thereof?

If it is true that there is a clause that dictates that women in the judiciary are considered for elevation through their state of ancestry or birth as opposed to their state of marriage, then there is something fundamentally wrong with it and something needs to be done quickly. I think that it is only fair that one’s promotion, man or woman, be based on one’s hard work and diligence, and not who I married or where they are from. You see this business of appointing and promoting people based on their state of origin as opposed their track record and capabilities is one of the main reasons why we are still in the back waters where we permanently reside.

I would have thought that the nomination of a Chief Justice of a State backed by a letter personally written by the State Governor backing that nomination and reiterating Justice Jumbo-Offor as the State’s nominee (who had been cleared through every stage) would be more than enough to debunk any spurious last minute petitions. Apparently, not only does this situation  make any logical sense it also has no backing in law. Refusing to swear Justice Jumbo-Offor in because she is not an indigene of a particular place is a violation of section 42 of our Constitution which prohibits discrimination arising from circumstances of birth or sex.

Unless there are other extenuating circumstances  that they’re not telling, that’s where I worry for the Madam Chief Justice of Nigeria; the first female ever. It’s a major deal…an historical moment. It would be an utter shame if it were allowed to be turned into a … “See!! You women! You don’t like yourselves!” moment.



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