The first female President of the Court of Appeal, Zainab Bulkachuwa, Thursday, bowed out of the Bench as she clocked the statutory mandatory retirement age of 70 years for Justices of Appeal Court.
At the valedictory session in honour of the outgoing Justice, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Pual Usoro, SAN, said the life of Mrs Bulkachuwa reminded one of what the Nigerian girl-child and indeed women can achieve if given the chance and opportunity.
In his words, ” We more often than not scoff at the idea that women are naturally gifted in multi-tasking but before us today is one illustrative example.
” In celebrating this gender champion, it helps to go down memory lane to appreciate how arduous we have travelled in the road that leads to gender diversity in the court of appeal.
” The first female Justice of the Court of Appeal was Justice Aloma Mukhtar, elevated to supreme court and Chief Justice of Nigeria.
” An illustration of what the Nigerian girl -child and women can achieve when and if given the chance and opportunity” he said.
Usoro recalled that out of 86 Justices of the Court of Appeal only 23 are female, barely 30 per cent.
The NBA president said Mrs Bulkachuwa abandoned a secure and comfortable life of a Chief Judge of a state and joined the ranks of Justices of the Court of Appeal.
He added that: “These are those that their lives are filled with the tedium of reading endless records of appeals, listening to submissions among others.
“It is only a very high standard of patriotism and a sense of duty and service that would inform and drive those choices.
” These are qualities that appear to be in short supply amongst our public office holders who pretend to pontificate against and lecture our judicial officers.
” It is our judicial officers in the mild of Bulkachuwa who have the right to pontificate and lecture public officers on patriotism and duty to country,” he said.
The NBA boss also called for the appointment of more justices of the court of appeal saying, those serving in busy divisions are being overworked.
In her speech, Mrs Bulkachuwa, said if she could achieve all these in spite of the adversaries she faced, every girl -child can aspire towards it.
“More than academic success and career elevation, every girl has the potential to live in and make her world a beautiful one.
” There is so much love to spread to those whose language you speak and those you don’t even understand,” she said.
Mrs Bulkachuwa was appointed Acting President, Court of Appeal in 2012 and substantive President of the Court in April 2014.
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