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Apart from president, Igbo has never produced Chief Justice of Nigeria. See list of past justices

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There has been much ado about the fact that the Igbo, one of the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria, have not once produced the country's executive president. But not many are aware that as much as the Igbo have not headed the executive arm of government since independence, they have also not headed the judicial arm, having not produced the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) in the country's history. 

This is even as they have produced a number of brilliant judges in the past, notably, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, head of the famous Oputa Panel and father of popular musician, Charles Oputa, aka Charley Boy. The Chief Justice of Nigeria is of course, constitutionally appointed by the president of the country, often upon the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC), a body established by the Federal Government to oversee the judiciary and protect it from the excesses of the executive arm of government. 

Since the country gained independence in 1960, it has produced not less than 15 Chief Justices , none of whom have come from the Southeast, or any of the Igbo speaking states of the country. Indeed, the immediate past Chief Justice, Walter Nkanu Onnoghen from Cross River State, happens to be the first ever judge from old Eastern Region of Nigeria to be appointed Chief Justice, and the first from Southern Nigeria in 32 years. 

Below is a list of past indigenous Chief Justices of Nigeria from independence till date:

1. Sir Adetokunbo Adegboyega Ademola, KBE, GCON, PC, SAN, was Nigeria's first indigenous Chief Justice. Born in 1906, Ademola became Chief Justice of Nigeria in 1958, two years before the country's independence, and would remain in office until 1972. He was from today's Southwest Nigeria, son of Late Oba Sir Ladapo Ademola II, the Alake of the Egba clan of today's Ogun State. He was the first chancellor of the University of Benin, and died on January 29, 1993. 

2. Taslim Olawale Elias, also from today's Southwest Nigeria, was Attorney-General and second indigenous Chief Justice of Nigeria, and at one point, President of the International Court of Justice. He became Chief Justice in 1972 and retired in 1975. Born in 1914, Elias lived until 1991 when passed away.

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3. Sir Darnley Alexander, SAN CFR, GCFR, was the third post independent Chief Justice of Nigeria. He was in office from 1975 to 1979. Alexander was born in the Caribbean autonomous Island of Saint Lucia in January 1920, and died in 1989.

4. Chief Atanda Fatai Williams, SAN CFR, CON, GCFR was the 4th post independence Chief Justice of Nigeria and the third from the Southwest. Born on October 1918, he served as Chief Justice of Nigeria between 1979 and 1983. He died on April 10, 2002.

5. George Sodeinde Sowemimo, SAN, CON, CON, GCFR, was the 5th post independence Chief Justice of Nigeria and 4th from the Southwest. He became Chief Justice in 1983 and served until 1985. He was born in November 1920 and died in November 1997.

6. Chief Ayo Gabriel Irikefe, SAN OFR, CON, GCFR was the 6th indigenous Chief Justice of Nigeria and the 5th from the Southwest, and the last till date. Born in March 3, 1922, Irikefe became Chief Justice in 1985 and would remain in office till 1987. He died in August 1996.

7. Justice Mohammed Bello, GCON, was the 7th Chief Justice of Nigeria since independence, and the first from Northern Nigeria. Bello was born in Katsina State, Northwest in 1930, and became Chief Justice in 1987.

8. Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais was Nigeria's 8th indigenous Chief Justice. He took office in 1995 and served till 2006. Uwais was born in Kaduna State, Northwest on June 12, 1936 and is currently enjoying retirement after an illustrious legal career. 

9. Salihu Modibbo Alfa Belgore, GCON, served as the 9th indigenous Chief Justice of Nigeria from July 2006 to January 2007. He was born on January 17, 1937 in Kwara State, North Central Nigeria.

10. Aloysius Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu was the 10th post independent Chief Justice of Nigeria who served from December 2009 to August 2011. Katsina-Alu was from Ushongo in Benue State, North Central Nigeria.

11. Dahiru Musdapher, GCON, born on 15 July 1942, served as Chief Justice of Nigeria from 29 August 2011 to 16 July 2012. Prior to his becoming Chief Justice, he served as Chief Judge of the Kano State from 1979 to 1985, and was a member of the Court of Appeal from 1985 until 2003. He passed on in 2018.

12. Aloma Mariam Mukhtar from Adamawa State, Northeast, served as Chief Justice of Nigeria from July 2012 to November 2014. She is the first woman to serve as Chief Justice of Nigeria. Mukhtar was born on November 20, 1944 in Adamawa State.

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13. Mahmud Mohammed, CON, OFR, from Taraba State, Northeast, succeeded Mukhtar as Chief Justice of Nigeria in November 2014. He retired on November 10, 2016. He was born on November 10 1946.

14. Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, from Cross River State, happened to be the only 'Easterner' to become Chief Justice of Nigeria when he was confirmed as substantive CJN by vice president, Yemi Osinbajo in 2017, whilst President Buhari was in London. He was, however, later suspended by Buhari in 2019 over allegations of non disclosure of assets. He remains suspended till date. 

15. Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, CFR, from Bauchi State, replaced Onnoghen in 2019, having been nominated by President Buhari on 11 July 2019 as substantive CJN, barely 24 hours after National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended him to the president. He is the current Chief Justice of Nigeria.O

Going by the list therefore, the Southwest has produced five Chief Justices in the country's post independence history, the highest of the six geopolitical zones. Past Chief Justices from the zone are: Adetokunbo Adegboyega Ademola, Teslim Olawale Elias, Chief Atanda Fatai Williams, George Sodeinde Sowemimo and Chief Ayo Gabriel Irikefe.

They are followed by the Northwest and the Northeast which has each produced three. Those from the Northwest include Mohammed Bello, Mohammed Lawal Uwais and Dahiru Musdapher. Those from the Northeast are: Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, Mahmud Mohammed and Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, the current CJN. The North Central has had two Chief Justices, namely, Salihu Modibbo Alfa Belgore and Aloysius Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu. The South South has had one in the suspended Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, while the Southeast none. The other Chief Justice, Darnley Alexande was not originally from Nigeria.

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Muhammad, current CJN

Source: opera.com
The views expressed in this article are the writer's, they do not reflect the views of Opera News. Read more>>
Top Comments
IkechukwuNwogha_01 · 07/12/2020
.mr Anozie read and understand very well b4 you comment. So we are talking about chief justice of Nigeria and not President of Nigeria
NnamdiAnozie · 07/1/2020
who told you that igbo have not produce president,Nnamdi ,Azikewe, the first if Nigeria, Nwafor orizu acting president and general Aguiyi irosi
IkechukwuNwogha_01 · 07/12/2020
But if that is true, i will said its unfair. And as am looking at it now it is only Mrs Odili is only Igbo there even soon to be retired
ConfidenceOnyemachiChukwudi · 07/3/2020
Please Mr writer tell me the post Jaja Wachuku held in Nigeria

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