HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOMEN JUDGES NIGERIA (NAWJN), LIST OF FOUNDING MEMBERS, AND ACTIVITIES SO FAR.
25 YEARS STRONG
The International Association of Women Judges – IAWJ is an Article 501 (c)(3) Non–Governmental Organization and an NGO in “special consultative” status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations Organization (UNESCO). The National Association of Women Judges, Nigeria is the Nigeria chapter of the Association.
The origins of the National Association of Women Judges, Nigeria (NAWJN) can be traced to 1989 when Hon. Justice Rose Ukeje attended the first gathering of Judges from around the world at the annual meeting of the US National Association of Women Judges. At that historic meeting, the participants expressed their interest in forming an international organization and agreed that they would return to their countries and share their experiences with sister Judges. Over the next several years, the IAWJ constitution was drafted and Nigeria was among the first 15 nations to ratify it. The first election for IAWJ officers took place in San Diego, USA and Justice Aloma Mukhtar of Nigeria was elected as the association’s first Vice President while Justice Rose Ukeje was elected as a member of the Board of Directors.
NAWJN ratified the IAWJ constitution at its exploratory meeting held on May 25, 1991 and was formally inaugurated on October 18, 1991 in Lagos, Nigeria, with the support of the Grand Patron of the Association, the Hon. Justice Mohammed Bello GCON, the then Chief Justice of Nigeria. Hon. Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar was the first president of NAWJN and served in that capacity for seven years. The tenure of Justice Mukhtar helped to stabilize the association and set it on the right path. The aims and objectives of NAWJN, as set forth in Article 3 of the Amended Constitution ratified at the General Meeting held in Benin City, Nigeria on November 21, 1992 are as follows:
- To provide a forum and resource centre to disseminate information affecting women judges;
- To urge an increase in the number of women judges so that the judiciary more appropriately reflects an equal role for men and women in society;
- To engage in research study and participate in international, regional or national conferences, judicial exchanges and training programs which contribute to the understanding and resolution of critical legal issues facing women and Nigeria at large;
- To encourage co-operation and collaboration between women judges of all nations;
- To address other important issues relating to the improvement and advancement of women in the legal and judicial system;
- To encourage, promote and advance professional interaction among judges in Nigeria.
Twenty-five women judges joined the NAWJN at the inaugural meeting as founding members. Since then, the membership has grown to presently about 320 members. Nigeria can claim to have one of the largest number of women judges in the African Region. NAWJN produced the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria in 2012. We have presently three women Justices of the Supreme Court. Twenty-Nine women Justices of the Court of Appeal, and several are Chief Judges of the various States. At the inception of NAWJN there were no women justices of the Supreme Court. The Presidents of NAWJN have been Hon. Justice Aloma Mariam Murktar GCON (Chief Justice of Nigeria, Rtd); Hon. Justice Atinuke Ige Justice, Court of Appeal (Late); Hon. Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa CFR, (President, Court of Appeal); Hon Justice Rose Ukeje (Chief Judge Federal High Court, Rtd); Hon Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi JSC; Hon. Justice R. P. I. Bozimo OFR (Chief Judge, Delta State (Rtd), now Administrator, National Judicial Institute), Hon. Justice Binta Nyako-Judge, Federal High Court. Current President – Hon. Justice Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju, Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal.
On 2nd September 2005 the Association was incorporated as a Company Limited by Guarantee with its registered office at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The Registration Number at the Corporate Affairs Commission is 633392. The immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria Hon Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar (GCON), the present President of the Court of Appeal Hon. Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa (CFR) and Hon. Justice Rose N. Ukeje, the retired Chief Judge of the Federal High Court were some of the first subscribers at incorporation.
The full house of NAWJN at the National Conference in October 2014 voted to adopt the Byelaws of the association. The byelaws are subject to the Constitution of the International Association of Women Judges.
In recent times the focus of the objectives of the association has been modified to include the following objectives:
- To ensure that our courts are representative of the society they serve in order to preserve their legitimacy.
- To reflect our society’s and the Nigerian constitutional commitment to the rule of law, equality and access to justice for all.
- To encourage new perspectives in the daily dispensation of justice by providing judicial education on cutting edge issues of importance.
- To develop judicial leadership, utilize available human resources and exchange information on issues of critical concern to woman, thus uprooting gender bias from our judicial system.
The NAWJN has organised several workshops and seminars for judges. Some of these were modelled on the IAWJ’s Jurisprudence of Equality (JEP) Project. The seminars were organised to teach members to achieve gender-sensitive judicial interpretations and applications of the provisions of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and other legislation. NAWJN has also organized various conferences and successfully executed the sextortion programme all over the country to propagate the jurisprudence of sextortion as an indictable offence punishable under our laws. Sextortion is a form of sexual exploitation that employs non-physical forms of coercion to extort sexual favours from the victim.
The NAWJN has presently embraced the GLOW- Global Leadership of Women Programme of the IAWJ. The intervention by NAWJN is to propound new jurisprudence in dispensation of justice in relation to the offences of rape, defilement, kidnapping and abduction. The new jurisprudence learnt from the judges of the International Criminal Courts on how to create a victim friendly court and enhance liberal interpretation of evidential rules in these cases are taught to ALL judicial officers, men and women all over the country by NAWJN GLOW Ambassadors. An inclusive policy was launched and workshops in all the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria were organised. These workshops were aimed at teaching police officers who investigate rape, defilement, abduction and kidnapping, the correct investigation procedures in these special crimes in order to enhance successful prosecution. Law officers were also taught how to properly prosecute these offences. Judges were encouraged on the ways and means to create victim friendly courts. The Association deliberately involved community leaders (Obas, Emirs, Chiefs, local women groups) who were encouraged to help to break the culture of silence, which escalates the occurrences of these offences. Efforts were made to involve civil society groups to provide support for victims. The Association has encouraged and facilitated the setting up of a proper inclusive Programme for the youths in various states of the Federation.
To promote the GLOW initiative, we successfully got the Nigeria Police through the good graces of the former Inspector General of Police Abubakar D. Mohammed, to approve and direct the establishment of a Special Victims Desk (SVD) in all police commands in the country to be manned by police officers not below the rank of Sergeant. To facilitate this training, training manuals were published in English, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo languages by the Association.
The NAWJN hosted the third African Regional Conference from October 16th to 22nd in 2005 which was well attended by representatives of national associations from a number of African countries. The NAWJN again hosted the Regional Conference in 2012. That was also well attended by many members from the African Region. Nigeria has also attended all Biennial International Conferences of the IAWJ and all the conferences in the African Region.
NAWJN officers are elected from the six geo-political zones in the country. The presidency rotates from north to South. The office of NAWJN is at Rm 30 National Judicial Council Building, Supreme Court Complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja, Nigeria. The
ROLL CALL OF FOUNDING MEMBERS
- JUSTICE ALOMA MARIAM MUKHTAR CJN, GCON
- JUSTICE ATINUKE OMOBONIKE IGE JCA (LATE)
- JUSTICE OLUFUNMILOLA ADEKEYE JSC (RTD)
- JUSTICE ZAINAB ALIYU BULKACHUWA PCA, CFR
- JUSTICE ROSE NONYEREM UKEJE CJ (RTD)
- JUSTICE RAHILA HADEA CUDJOE OFR CJ (RTD)
- JUSTICE CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI JSC
- JUSTICE CONSTANCE AISHA RAKIYA MOMOH CJ (RTD)
- JUSTICE SOTONYE DENTON-WEST JCA
- JUSTICE CECILIA NZEAKO JCA (RTD)
- JUSTICE AISHA DAHIRU CJ
- JUSTICE ADZIRA GANA MSHELIA JCA
- JUSTICE HANSINE NAPWANIYO DONLI ECOWAS COURT
- JUSTICE DOROTHY NSA EYAMBA-IDEM
- JUSTICE OYETUNDE AG.CJ (LATE)
- JUSTICE G.O OLATERU-OLAGBEGI CJ
- JUSTICE FUNLAYO OLA ONI-OKPAKU
- JUSTICE DOLAPO AKINSANYA
- JUSTICE IBITOLA ADEBISI SOTIMINU CJ
- JUSTICE TITILOLA MABOGUNJE
- JUSTICE UDOM AZOGWU JCA (LATE)
- JUSTICE OLUYEMISI AJAYI
- JUSTICE OMOSEDE OMORODION (LATE)
- JUSTICE OLOMOJOBI
- JUSTICE RALIATU ELELU-HABEEB CJ
- HON. JUSTICE ALOMA MARIAM MUKHTAR CJN, GCON
- HON. JUSTICE ATINUKE IGE JCA (LATE)
- HON. JUSTICE ZAINAB ALIYU BULKACHUWA PCA, CFR
- HON. JUSTICE ROSE UKEJE CJ (RTD)
- HON. JUSTICE CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI JSC
- HON. JUSTICE R.P.I. BOZIMO CJ, OFR-ADMINISTRATOR, NATIONAL JUDICIAL INSTITUTE
- HON. JUSTICE BINTA NYAKO
- HON. JUSTICE HELEN MORONKEJI OGUNWUMIJU JCA
- – PRESIDENT
- HON. JUSTICE JOSEPHINE TUKTUR CJ- VICE PRESIDENT
- HON. JUSTICE HALIMA S. MOHAMMED- SECRETARY
- HON. JUSTICE ADERONKE A. ADEREMI- ASSISTANT SECRETARY
- HON. JUSTICE EKAETE OBOT- TREASURER
- HON. JUSTICE DESTINA OKO- FINANCIAL SECRETARY
- HON. JUSTICE PAT MAHMOUD- PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
- HON. JUSTICE HANNATU BALOGUN- INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR
- JUSTICE BINTA NYAKO- EX-OFFICIO
- Hon. Justice Binta Nyako- Member of the Executive Council of the International Association of Women Judges.
- Hon Justice Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju, Member of the Board of Directors representing West Africa on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Women Judges