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I never dreamt of being a High Court judge – Jigawa first female judge

I applied for admission into the School  of Basic Studies (SBS) in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where I sat for my IJMB examination between 1976…

I applied for admission into the School  of Basic Studies (SBS) in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where I sat for my IJMB examination between 1976 and 1977. I proceeded for my degree in Law in the same university and graduated in 1980. But before proceeding to the law school, I was employed by the then old Kano State government immediately after graduation and was posted to the state’s Ministry of Justice as a Pupil State Counsel. I, later, proceeded to the law school and after completion, I went for my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) service where I served in Kaduna State. I was called to the bar in 1982.  


You were said to have gone through all the ranks before attaining to the present position of a High Court Judge. How true is this?

Of course, I went through all the ranks because since I was employed as a Pupil State Solicitor, I kept on getting promoted after every two years. From the rank of Pupil Solicitor to State Counsel, Senior State Counsel, Principal State Counsel, Senior Principal State Counsel and Deputy Director, Civil Litigationamong others. I kept on moving from one rank to the other until the creation of the present Jigawa State in 1991, precisely on the 3rd of September. I was appointed Solicitor General/ Director General in the State Ministry of Justice.  

I remained as Solicitor-General/Director General until when the first Jigawa State civilian governor, Alhaji Ali Sa’adu Birnin-Kudu, came.

I was removed from that position for some time, but remained in the Ministry of Justice as Chief State Counsel. I also held different positions in the ministry including Deputy Director, Civil Litigation and Deputy Director, Public Litigation.

In 1994 under Colonel Ibrahim Aliyu’s regime, I was reappointed as Director General but posted to the state’s Ministry of Lands and Regional Planning. And in 1997, I was moved to the Ministry of Information  and in 1999, I was transferred to Ministry of Agriculture still as Director General. Barely four months after the inception of that administration, there was a directive that all ministries be taken outside Dutse,the state capital, and my ministry was the first to be taken to Hadejia. That was precisely on 25th October 1999. And barely a month after, I was posted to the Secretary to the State Government’s (SSG) office as Director General, Administration and Finance.  Sometime in the year 2000, I was appointed the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, the rank which I held for barely two years.

In 2002, I was removed as the Commissioner for Justice following a cabinet reshufflement and I stayed without posting until 2003 when I was posted to the Ministry of Education in Kazaure as Permanent Secretary. From there, I was later transferred to the Ministry of Special Duties, Dutse, and later to Housing also as Permanent Secretary. Few months after, I was returned to the Ministry of Justice as Solicitor-General. This was the position I held until my recent appointment as a High Court Judge.

Is it true that  you are the first female High Court Judge in Jigawa State?

(Laughter) not only the first female High Court Judge of Jigawa state, but I was also the first Solicitor General of the state, the first female Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the 19-year old state.

One of the challenges being faced by working women is gender disparity. Have you encountered such a problem in your career?

Well, honestly not really. And this may not be unconnected with the ethics of our profession where we don’t have such differences because we are all considered as gentlemen of the bar. So, we always carry that image along with us. We mix freely and we don’t find any difficulty in adopting ourselves to the world of men. In a nutshell, in our profession, there is not that feeling to say this is a man and that is a woman.

Can you recall any memorable experience you had since you joined government?

Well, maybe one of those which I can easily remember now was the day I was directed to move the state’s Ministry of Agriculture to Hadejia from Dutse during the regime of Governor Ibrahim Saminu Turaki.  It was a Thursday evening while I was watching Network news when a visitor came to my house and informed me that the then Deputy Governor, the late Alhaji Ibrahim Shehu Kwatalo, wanted to see me. So I went and saw him and he told me that from that moment, I should consider the Ministry of Agriculture in Hadejia. For whatever reason, they didn’t want any excuse. He also said from Monday, the state government will pay the salary of the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture in Hadejia.

When I came back home, I started thinking of what to do. I immediately summoned all directors to my house for an emergency meeting. We shared responsibilities for our successful relocation of the ministry to Hadejia. And God, in His infinite mercies, assisted us and things were put in order the next day. By Friday noon, we evacuated everything belonging to the Agriculture Ministry to Hadejia. In fact, before Juma’at prayer, there was nothing in the ministry as if it had never existed in Dutse.

Then what is your most joyful moment?

My joy throughout my stay in government is that I have never betrayed the government and the people of Jigawa State. They repose confidence in me, that I can do whatever they assign me to do and I always made sure that I did it to the best of my ability and to their expectation. I also feel fulfilled with whatever services I have rendered to humanity.                          

How did you feel when you got the information of your recent appointment as a High Court Judge?

A letter from the state High Court, Jigawa State, was sent to me that I was recommended to be appointed a High Court Judge by the National Judicial Council  (NJC), subject to the approval of the state Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido. When I received the letter, I could not believe it, but as a Muslim, I kept on praying for Allah’s guidance and support. Another letter was brought to me that the state Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, had approved our appointment and we were to be sworn-in on Monday, March 29, 2010.

When I received these two letters, I felt differently because it was never my dream to become a High Court Judge. But because Allah had destined it that way, it has to be, but I never envisaged to find myself in this position. I felt there was one very heavy load put on my head. And that load was the confidence, the expectations and above all, the trust reposed on me by the National Judicial Council and the Jigawa State Government. I started asking myself whether I can do it? But, I believe that Allah knows better that I can do it, that was why He placed it on me. I am thankful to Him for guiding me throughout my career and I am sure He will guide me to scale through again.

I am thankful to God, the National Judicial Council and the state government for the confidence reposed in me by appointing me to this exalted position. As the first woman to find myself in that capacity, I will in-sha-Allah, be a role model to all female folks in Jigawa State and beyond.

Finally, what is your message to your female colleagues in the same profession?

They should be patient, committed to duty and above all, they should put service to humanity above self service. They should also establish a good relationship with their counterparts at their places of work and beyond. And whatever assignment they are given to do they should try to do, it properly and to the expectations of their superiors.

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