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Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme: When a judicial Icon is elevated to Supreme Court

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Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme’s career in the Nigerian judiciary epitomises hard work, integrity, and dedication.

She is a judicial icon, having risen through the ranks to become one of the country’s most prestigious Supreme Court Justices.

Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme’s significant contributions to the Nigerian judicial system and her enshrined place in the annals of Nigeria’s highest court remain eloquent testimony to her jurisprudence.

Nwosu-Iheme’s upbringing was marked by strict discipline, which moulded her into a paradigm of moral uprightness. Her dedication to justice from the beginning contributed to her reputation as a just and fair judge.

Her impressive track record would underscore her unwavering respect for the rule of law. Despite the prevailing corruption within the Nigerian judicial system, Nwosu-Iheme has championed the fight against judicial corruption, setting a benchmark for her colleagues and future generations.

She has notably authored various landmark judgements, which have had transformative and far-reaching consequences for Nigerian law. Her longstanding emphasis on meticulous judicial scrutiny of cases carries philosophical undertones of legal realism and has undeniably shaped the course of Nigeria’s judiciary system.

Nwosu-Iheme’s tireless advocacy for women’s rights has also been influential. Her unwavering opposition to gender discrimination has influenced changes in legal thinking towards gender equality, paving the way for reform in Nigerian family law.

Notwithstanding her laudable achievements, there exist contentious opinions about her judicial philosophy. She is lauded for her judicial creativity as a necessary tool for fighting injustice.

This perspective ultimately underscores her influence within and outside the judicial system.

Examining Nwosu-Iheme’s influential career accentuates the vital role of an independent, fair, and transparent judiciary in the sustenance of a democratic society.

Her dedication to justice, her fight against judicial corruption, her role in shaping Nigerian law, and her advocacy for gender equality are hallmarks of her iconic status in the Supreme Court.

As Justice Nwosu-Iheme is sworn in today, Monday, February 26, she is coming with experience, knowledge of the law and the fear of God.

She is not alone, her other brother justices would be stepping up to complete the Supreme Court Justices to the Constitutionally required 21in number.

They include Hon. Justice Jummai Hannatu Sankey, OFR, Hon. Justice Chidiebere Nwaoma Uwa, Hon. Justice Moore Asimov’s Adumein, Hon. Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya, Hon. Justice Stephen Adah, Hon. Justice Habeeb Adewale Abiru, Hon. Justice Jamalu Yammama Tukur, Hon. Justice Abubakar Sadiq Umar, and Hon. Justice Mohammed Baba Idris.

They were recommended to President Bola Tinubu for elevation to the Supreme Court by the National Judicial Council (NJC) during its 104th Meeting on December 6, 2023, where it considered the list of Candidates presented by its interview Committee.

Born on 2, February 1959, in Nkwerre, Imo State. In 1995, she was appointed as a judge of the Imo State High Court. In 2008, she was elevated to the Court of Appeal and has headed a number of the Court’s Divisions.

She is the first female Nigerian Judge to earn a PhD in Law. She is, also, the second female Judge from Imo State to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

The first was the Honourable Justice Mary Peter-Odili, wife of the former governor of Rivers State, Chief Peter Odili, a medical doctor.

Nwosu-Iheme noted for her courage and no-nonsense attitude, was appointed a Judge of the Imo State High Court in 1995.

As a courageous judge, she was the only judge after two other judges who started the case could not make progress until the matter was assigned to her and without blinking an eye, she delivered judgment on 28 April 1999.

The “Otokoto Seven” were finally sentenced to death to the satisfaction of the people.

In 2005, she was one of 27 ad litem judges elected for a four-year term by the United Nations General Assembly at its 59th Session to oversee the International tribunal mandated to prosecute and try persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the former Yugoslavia since 1991.

Justice Nwosu-Iheme was elevated to the Appeal Court on 15th February 2008 and was ranked 8th in the Seniority list of the Appeal Court.

As she ascended to the pinnacle of her career and profession, Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, no doubt, would serve as a beacon for the advancement of a just society through her unwavering dedication to serving the principles of justice.

Her legacy in the Supreme Court will be an enduring testament to the transformational power of the judiciary in instilling democratic values and reinforcing social justice.

Hon. Justice Nwosu-theme is married to High Chief Uzoma Nwosu-theme, an American-trained Geologist and one-time Hon. Commissioner for Public Utilities and Rural Development; Youths and Sports and also Education all in Imo State.

She is a staunch Anglican and for 20 years the lord Chancellor of the Anglican Dioceses of Owerri. The family is blessed with five children, a girl and four boys. The only girl is an Assistant Professor of Oncology at M. D. Anderson Cancer Centre, University of Texas at Houston, one engineer, an economist, and two lawyers, with the last son also having a Ph.D. in law.

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