Abuja - The Senate on Wednesday called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN),
Justice Maryam Muktar, to swear in Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo as a judge
of the Court of Appeal forthwith.
Jombo-Ofo was dropped from the list of judges sworn in by the CJN on
Monday on the grounds that she was not from Abia even though she is
married to a man from that state.
The Senate's resolution followed a motion by the Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu.
He said that Jombo-Ofo was nominated a judge of the Court of Appeal
by the National Judicial Council (NJC) having gone through the due
Ekweremadu noted that Muktar, who refused to administer the oath of
office on Jombo-Ofo, was the same person who presided over the processes
that cleared her.
He said it was surprising that Jombo-Ofo was denied the oath even though the 11 other judges were sworn in.
``The practical implication of the decision of the CJN is that
Nigerian women have lost all they have struggled for over the years and
Nigeria will be taken 100 years back.
``It also shows that once a woman is married outside her community,
local government area or state, she cannot aspire to any position
(appointive or elective) in her husband’s community.
``It is also very unlikely that she will secure such position in her place of origin since she has been married out.”
In his contribution, the Leader of the Senate, Sen. Victor
Ndoma-Egba,(PDP-Cross River), noted that this was a bad development for
women, particularly at a time when a woman was the CJN.
According to Ndoma-Egba, the implication of this is that rather than
being on the part of progress, the country is retrogressing.
``Once upon a time in this nation, we had Kalu Anya as the Chief
Judge of Borno State, a Yoruba man was Attorney- General of Borno
and the then Secretary to the State Government was also a non-indigene.
``Today, three decades after, we are being told that an Igbo woman
will not have opportunity in another part of Igbo land. I think we are
He noted that the implication of the action was that the judiciary
was limiting itself to the choices available to it, saying that that
would promote mediocrity.
He added that it would also have negative implications on the sanctity of marriage as a sacred institution.
``The other implication is on the sanctity of marriage. I believe
that in every religion, marriage is sacred. The family is sacred.
``Now, if we say because of marriage, a woman cannot rise to the
limits of her endowment, it means that for career minded women, we are
putting them in a difficult situation of choosing between career and
Senate President David Mark described the issue as ``a fait
accompli'' considering that Jombo-Ofo had already gone through the due
He said the swearing in was just a ceremony and if she had no problem
during the entire process, there should be no problem at the point of
being sworn in.
``There was nothing left again. Swearing in was just a ceremony and
if the issues were not raised before but just at the point of swearing
in, it is immaterial.’’
He noted that the CJN, by this act, was crying more than the bereaved since the Abia State Government was not complaining.
``I think the judiciary or the CJN is crying more than the bereaved
because Abia State is not complaining. They submitted her name and the
Governor was there.
``Why should anybody else say she is taking Abia State's slot because
that is what it meant in effect, if she was not sworn in.’’
Mark said the Senate would do whatever it could to ensure that
Jombo-Ofo was sworn in and to encourage women to continue to remain
married and claim their husbands’ places of origin.
``This will also make us think twice about the issue of indigeneship
and place of residence. If you are resident in a place, why can’t you
take appointment there?
``But particularly on this issue, I think it was a mistake and it should be corrected. ’’
Briefing newsmen after the plenary session, the spokesman for the
Senate, Sen. Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia), said the Senate took the
decision because there was no legal impediment to her appointment.
``She passed through all the processes and it would be injurious to the women folk if this is not corrected.’’
Abaribe expressed the hope that the CJN would swear her in without further delay.