THE NASARAWA STATE JUDICIARY
The Nasarawa State Judiciary is the third arm of Nasarawa State Government, the other two being the Executive and the Legislature. It comprises three Units, namely; the High Court of Justice, the Sharia and Customary Courts of Appeal. It also has a regulatory/supervisory body known as the Judicial Service Commission, which deals with the appointment, promotion and disciplinary issues of the Judiciary.
The three units of the Judiciary, i.e. the High Court, Sharia and Customary Courts of Appeal, though a single entity, yet function disjunctively. Each Unit has it’s Head of Court, thus – The Chief Judge as Head of High Court of Justice, presently headed by the Hon. Justice Suleiman Umaru Dikko; the Grand Kadi as the Head of Sharia Court of Appeal, presently headed by Hon. Kadi Abdullahi Mohammad; and the President as Head of Customary Court of Appeal also presently headed by Hon. Justice Jibril Idris. However, there is no mistaken the fact that the Chief Judge is the Head of the Judiciary and also the Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission.
While the Sharia and Customary Courts of Appeal are majorly courts of second instances, i.e to say cases before them are those on appeal, the High Court of Justice is a court of trial and appellate jurisdiction, i.e it handles cases both on first trial and on appeals. The High Court of Justice has unlimited jurisdiction over the subject matters and persons that it has jurisdiction over.
For proper appreciation of the nature, functions and or operations of the Nasarawa State Judiciary, it is most appropriate to look at it in unit traverse seriatim, viz:
A BRIEF PROFILE OF HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE, NASARAWA STATE
Nasarawa State High Court before October, 1996, formed part of what was Plateau State High Court. With the creation of Nasarawa State on the 1st October, 1996, the State High Court was established. The pioneer Chief Judge of the State was Hon. Justice Suleiman Galadima (now a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria).
The State High Court as already stated has original and appellate jurisdiction in both Civil and criminal matters. Its original jurisdiction is provided for under Section 272(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
The State High Court hears and determines appeals from decisions of Magistrates and Area Courts in all criminal matters. It also hears and determines appeals from District Courts in all civil causes. In addition, appeals from Area Court in all civil causes other than customary or Islamic personal law causes, lie to the High Court.
A Panel of two or three Judge of the High Court is usually constituted for the purpose of determining appeals from the lower courts aforementioned. The High Court of the State has a single Judicial Division, with five High Courts cited in Lafia, the State capital. For the purpose of convenience to litigants, two High Courts, presided over a resident High Court Judge, are cited at Keffi with the most senior judge as the assigning judge.
Similarly, there is one High Court at Akwanga and Nasarawa both resident judges. Noteworthy also is that there are presently five High Courts at Mararraban Gurku with the most senior as assigning judge. Administratively, the High Court has five major Directorates; viz. Directorates of Personnel; Magistrates’ and Area Courts’ Affairs, Litigation and Library Services, Research, Planning and Statistics and Finance. Each of these Directorates is headed by a Deputy Chief Registrar while the Chief Registrar is the Administrative Head and
As the name depicts, the Chief Judge is the Head of the judges and he centrally assigns cases to all courts in Lafia. There are Thirteen (13) Judges presently. Out of these, two were just recently sworn-in, on 1st of January, 2013. Since the inception of Nasarawa State High Court, three (3) High Court Judges have retired – Hon. Justice Badamasi Maina (former Chief Judge) ,Hon. Justice A.Y. Ubangari OFR and Hon. Justice Isa A. Ramalan; while two passed on to glory – Hon. Justices Mohammed Ogbe and Haruna Loko.
A brief profile of the Judicial Officers of the High Court Judges are as follows:
1. HON. JUSTICE SULEIMAN DIKKO:- Chief Judge
He was born on the 31st December, 1955, in Toto town , he attended University of Maiduguri and the Nigerian Law School, Lagos between 1981 and 1986. He possesses Bachelor of Law(LL.B) and Bachelor of Law (B.L).
He worked with the Department of Customs and Excise, Kaduna between 1977 and 1981. He was in private legal practice between 1987-1998. He was councillor for education and Deputy Chairman, Toto Local Government Council between 1994 and 1996. He was appointed High Court Judge in the Nasarawa State Judiciary in April , 1998.having passed the prescribed examination, he was called to the Nigerian Bar in October, 1986. He was appointed a Judge of the High Court, Lafia, Nasarawa State on the 16th April, 1998. Until his appointment, he was in private practice. He presides over High Court No. 2 Lafia.
2. HON. JUSTICE JOHN A. VIKO:
He was born in 1953, a native of Farin Ruwa Development Area in Wamba Local Government. He was called to the Bar in 1983 after he graduated from Law School and passed the prescribed Examinations. He was appointed a High Court Judge on 13th February, 2003. He is presently sitting in High Court 3, Lafia and Akwanga.
3. HON. JUSTICE AISHA M. AHMED
Hon. Justice Ahmed was born 21st December, 1962; was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1986 was appointed to the Public Service sometime in 1988. She was a onetime Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and served as the Clerk of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly between 1999-2003. She joined the Bench on 13th February, 2003 when she was appointed as a Judge of the Nasarawa State High Court. She sits in High Court 4, Lafia
4. HON. JUSTICE JAMES G. ABUNDAGA
Justice Abundaga was born on 5th June, 1961. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987 and was appointed as a Magistrate in 1990. He rose through the ranks to become the Deputy Chief Registrar (Magistrates’ and Area Courts’ Affairs) and was appointed a High Court Judge of Nasarawa State 13th February, 2003. He presently sits in High Court 1, Mararraban Gurku.
5. HON. JUSTICE RIDWAN ABDULLAHI MAIWADA
A native of Keffi, he was born on 2nd May, 1957; a graduate of the Nigerian Law School, who was called to the Bar on 1986. And became a Magistrate in 1987. He served as a Secretary of the Nasarawa State Judicial Service Commission between 1998-2003. He was appointed a Judge of the High Court on the 13th February, 2003. He is presently the resident High Court Judge of Court 1, Keffi.
6. HON. JUSTICE SIMON O. ABOKI
His Lordship was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1984; Worked with various organizations. He established a Private Legal office as Alpha Chambers and was in private practice until his appointment as the Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Justice, Lafia in 1997-1999 and 2002 – 2008 respectively. He was appointed a High Court Judge in 2008. He sits in High Court 2, Keffi.
7. HON. JUSTICE AUDU OKA BAKO
Justice Bako was called to the Bar in 1988 after completing the Law School and passing the prescribed examinations. He appointed a Magistrate in the High Court and rose through the ranks of Chief Magistrate, Deputy Chief Registrar and later the Chief Registrar of the High Court of Justice. He was appointed a High Court Judge on the 2nd June, 2008 and presently sits in Nasarawa as the resident High Court Judge.
8. HON. JUSTICE ROSE G. SOJI
The Hon. Justice R.G. Soji was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1989. She served as a Counsel with Theresa Obot & Co., in Jos as Counsel in private practice. She joined the Judiciary as a Magistrate and rose to the rank of Deputy Chief Registrar at the Customary Court of Appeal, Lafia. She was appointed as a High Court Judge on the 2nd June, 2008. She sits at the High Court of Justice No. 2, Mararraban Gurku. She is married with children.
9. HON. JUSTICE HARUNA A. OFFO
Justice Offo was called to the Bar on completion of his Law School and passing the Call To Bar Examination in late 1988. Justice Offo engaged in private practice before taking up appointment as a Magistrate with the Nasarawa State Judiciary. He rose to the rank of Chief Magistrates and was eventually appointed as the Executive Secretary of the Nasarawa State Judicial Service Commission. He was appointed as a Judge of the High Court on the 24th May, 2012.
10. HON. JUSTICE DANIEL D. ADECK
Hon. Justice Daniel Danlami Adeck was born on 8th August, 1967. He attended the Tattara-Yeskwa Primaqry School, Tattara; Government Secondary School Mangun, Plateau State and then University of Jos, Plateau State, where he bagged an LL.B Certificate all between 1973-1988. He then proceeded to the Nigerian Law State and obtained his B.L and having passed the prescribed examinations, he was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1989. He was a Counsel in private practice with Ogwuche Akogwu & Co., Keffi, before taking up appointment with the Nasarawa State House of Assembly as a Legislative Draftsman. He later joined the Judiciary as a Senior Magistrate, rose through the rank to become a Deputy Chief Registrar and later the Chief Registrar of High Court of Justice, Lafia in 2009. He was appointed a Judge of High Court on 24th May, 2012.
11. HON. JUSTICE ABDULLAHI B. HUSSAINI
Hon. Justice Hussaini Bahago Abdullahi was born on 2nd May, 1958. He had his education that brought him into the legal profession at the famous Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and later at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1983. He also holds Certificate in Commercial Drafting and Banking Documentation and a Post Graduate Diploma in Management. Before taking up appointment as a Chief Magistrates with the High Court of Justice in 2003, he was in private practice, Manager (Legal) with Federal Mortgage Bank and Special Adviser, Lafia L.G.C. He rose to the rank of Deputy Chief Registrar with the High Court before his appointment as a Judge of the High Court of Justice on the 24th May, 2012.
12. HON. JUSTICE DANJUMA A. OYIGBENU
His Lordship, Justice Oyigbenu was called to the Nigerian Bar sometimes in 1990. As a promising attorney, he engaged in both private and public practice of the legal profession. He took up appointment as Magistrate with the Nasarawa State Judiciary and rose to the rank of Chief Magistrate. He was the Zonal Chief Magistrate of the Lafia Zone prior to his appointment as a Judge of the High Court of Justice on the 24th May, 2012.
13. HON. SAMUEL ALEBEN AYIWULU appointed as a Judge of the High Court of Justice 2nd January 2013
14. HON. ASAM’U YUSUF appointed as a Judge of the High Court of Justice 2nd January 2013
PRINCIPAL OFFICERS OF THE HIGH COURT ARE AS FOLLOWS:
1. Barr. Sunday B. Bawa - Ag. Chief Registrar
Attended the Mary Knoll College, Igoli Ogoja, Cross Rivers State between 1974-1979 and later the University of Jos, Plateau State between 1983-1987 to read Law. After graduation, he went to the Nigerian Law School, Lagos between 1987-1988 and was called to Bar sometime in 1988. He practiced as a Counsel in Garba, Dashe & Co., a firm of Solicitors in Jos from 1989-1990, then took up appointment with the Ministry of Justice, Jos, Plateau State from 1990-1994 as Senior State Counsel; was Legal Adviser to the Plateau State Board of Internal Revenue, Jos from 1995-1996 and was deployed to Nasarawa State Ministry of Justice was the State was created as Principal State Counsel from 1966-2000. He rose to the rank of Director of Legal Drafting before he later transferred to the High Court of Justice as a Deputy Chief Registrar (litigation and Library Services). He served in the others Directorates of Magistrates’ and Area Courts’ Affairs, Personnel until his recent appointment as the Acting Chief Registrar of the High Court. He is married with four children.
2. Barr. Thomas G. Ebuga - DCR (Magistrates’ & Area Courts’ Affairs
3. Barr. Hannatu G. Kabiru - DCR (Research, Planning & Statistics)
4. Bartholomew M. Kuje - Director of Finance & Accounts
5. Bilatus M. Makama - Dep. Director, Personnel
6. Abubakar A. Maina - Staff Officer
7. Enoch Ali Maku - Chief Protocol & Liaison Officer
8. Ochiche, E. S. - CCS To The Hon. Chief Judge
9. Zephaniah C. Engom, CNA - Chief Accountant
10. Samuel U. Bala - Estate/Maintenance Officer
11. Engr. Obile Alu - Chief Technical Officer (Electricals)
12. Samuel B. Kyari - Chief Inspector of Area Courts
13. James E. Anzaki - Asst. Chief Registrar (Probate)
14. Sylvanus K. Orume - Asst. Chief Registrar (Litigation)
15. Sabo M. Bashayi - Chief Executive Officer (Registry)
16. Suleiman A. Ibrahim - Asst. Chief Executive Officer (Records)
17. Sumayya J. Abdullahi - Asst. Chief Store Officer
18. Husseini Ali - Librarian
19. Jibrin A. Akwe - Main Cashier
THE SHARIA COURT OF APPEAL
Headed by a Grand Kadi, who sits with two other Kadis, the court has in all four Kadis and it deals with Islamic personal matters on appeal. The court is still operating in a temporary rented structures situate at the Low Cost Housing Estate, along Shendam Road, Lafia.
It is pertinent to state that when the State was created, the Sharia Court of Appeal of Nasarawa inherited one Kadi from the erstwhile Plateau State – Hon. Kadi Lawal Musa Nagogo (now the Oriye Rindere). The court could not take off immediately because of the lack of quorum. The pioneer Kadi, (Kadi Nagogo) later became the Grand Kadi on appointment of more Kadis, in the persons of Hon. Kadi Abdullahi Muhammad, Hon. Kadi Zachariah (Late); and Hon. Kadi Muhammad Alhassan.
Unfortunately again, no sooner had the court resumed sitting than it relapsed into a state of inactivity for want of quorum. This is due to the retirement of the then Grand Kadi – Hon. Kadi Lawal Musa Nagogo (who was selected as the Oriye Rindere of Wamba) and the death of Hon. Kadi Zachariah. With the recent appointment of two more Kadis, the court has now resumed sitting.
The Sharia Court of Appeal now has the following Judicial and Principal Officers
1. Hon. Kadi Abdullahi Muhammad - Grand Kadi
2. Hon. Kadi Muhammad Alhassasn - Kadi
3. Hon. Kadi Yusufu Bahago Abubakar II - Kadi
4. Hon. Kadi Y. U. Muhammad - Kadi
1. Barr. Isa E. Kana - - Ag. Chief Registrar
2. Barr. Abdullahi Ozegya- - Deputy Chief Registrar (Litigation)
THE CUSTOMARY COURT OF APPEAL
As with the Sharia Court, so with the Customary Court of Appeal in the sense that it deals mostly on matters of customary nature and sits as a court of second instance. It is headed by the Hon. President who sits with three other Judges.
When Nasarawa State was created in 1996, there was only one Customary Court of Appeal Judge who was deployed from Plateau State. He was then the Hon. President for Plateau and Benue States in the person of Hon. Justice Yusufu Yakubu. He became the pioneer President of the Nasarawa State Customary Court of Appeal. He has since retired from service.
Later, other Judges were appointed to form a quorum to enable the Customary Court of Appeal take off properly. Presently, the Customary Court of Appeal, Lafia has the following judicial and principal officers:
1. Hon. Justice Jibril Idris - President
2. Hon. Justice Joshua D. Alaku - Judge
3. Hon. Justice James A. Ada - Judge
4. Hon. Justice Emmanuel Osagede - Judge
1. Barr. Josiah K. Kurape - Chief Registrar
2. Barr. Godwin E. Akwe - Deputy Chief Registrar
3. Barr. Samaila Usman Inji - Deputy Chief Registrar
4. Emmanuel Auta - Ag. Director of Finance
THE JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION
Members of the Commission
1. Hon. Justice Badamasi Maina - Hon. Chief Judge/Chairman
Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi - Hon. Attorney .General & Commissioner for Justice/Member
2. Hon. Kadi Muhammad Abdullahi - Hon. Grand Kadi/Member
3. Hon. Justice Jibril Idris - Hon. President/Member