Leadership (Abuja)

9 November 2012

Nigeria: Why CJN Didn't Swear in Female Judge

The refusal by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mariam Aloma Murktah to swear-in Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo as a Justice of the Court of Appeal was a dummy passed to the National Assembly to persuade it to make a law that would precisely define which states married women actually belong.

According to a source close to the Supreme Court, Justice Jombo-Ofo was claiming to be from Anambra State, but decided to claim that she hails from Abia State at the time of filling the forms for appointment to the Court of Appeal.

The source disclosed that the action of Justice Jombo-Ofo was similar to that of Justice Mary Odili who used Imo State's slot to get to the Appeal Court only to come to the Supreme Court through her husband state, Rivers, simply because that was where there was a vacancy then.

"The message the CJN has passed to the National Assembly is for them to amend the Federal Character Commission Act to define the position of married women when it comes to appointment that has to do with federal character principle.

"The Senate has just shot itself in the foot by passing a resolution asking the CJN to swear in Justice Jombo-Ofo which offends the FCC Act, which is subsisting or yet to be repealed by the national legislature.

"The CJN might have been laughing at them because they have to tell her which law she should obey; is it their current resolution or the subsisting FCC Act?" the source asked.

According to the source, when the CJN was confronted with these inconsistencies which came after Justice Jombo-Ofo was cleared, she quickly wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan before going ahead to withdraw her name from the justices to be sworn in.

"When these inconsistencies were discovered by the CJN, she confronted Justice Jombo-Ofo with the facts, and when she had no defence, the CJN then decided to defer her swearing-in.

"In fact, to show her good faith, the meeting of the National Judicial Council (NJC), which she is the Chairman, should have held in December but the CJN brought it back to hold in November to review the case of Justice Jombo-Ofo as she believes that the Council has the final say in the matter," he added.

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