Here is a glimpse into the profiles of the seven Supreme Court justices who will decide the outcomes of the appeals by the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, Abubakar Atiku and the Labour Party, Peter Obi, against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the PDP.
Justice John Okoro
Date of Birth: July 11, 1959
Place of Birth: Nung Ukim, Ikono Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State
Justice John Okoro, the head of the panel, is a legal luminary whose journey through the judicial ranks is nothing short of remarkable. His academic foundation was laid at Methodist School, Nung Ukim, and Boys High School, Oron. He furthered his education at the School of Arts & Science, Uyo, and the University of Lagos, culminating in his admission to the Nigerian Bar in 1985.
Starting as a Magistrate Grade 11, Justice Okoro ascended the ranks to become Chief Magistrate Grade 1, followed by an appointment as a Judge of the High Court of Akwa Ibom State. In 2006, he was elevated to the Court of Appeal, where he served until his elevation to the Supreme Court on November 15, 2013. Throughout his career, Justice Okoro has been actively involved in various capacities, including membership in Election Petition Tribunals and participation in numerous seminars, workshops, and conferences, both locally and internationally. He currently holds the position of the fourth most senior justice on the Supreme Court.
Justice Uwani Musa Abba-Aji
Date of Birth: November 7, 1956
Place of Birth: Gashua, Yobe State
Justice Uwani Musa Abba-Aji stands as the most senior female jurist on the Supreme Court and the sole woman on the panel. Her educational journey began at Central Primary School, Gashua, and Government Girls Secondary School, Maiduguri. She earned a Diploma in Law from Ahmadu Bello University and later an L.L.B (Hons) from the same institution. She was called to the Bar in 1981, commencing her career as a State Counsel in 1982.
Justice Abba-Aji’s career is marked by a rapid rise through various positions, including roles as Chief Magistrate and Chief Registrar. She became the first Lady Judge in Yobe State Judiciary as a Higher Court Judge and later served as the Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal Kaduna Division for four years. Her remarkable journey culminated in her elevation to the Supreme Court on January 8, 2019.
Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba
Date of Birth: November 16, 1958
Place of Birth: Gusau, Zamfara State
Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba, hailing from Gusau Local Government Area of Zamfara State, embarked on his legal career after a sound educational foundation. He started at Demonstration Primary School, Maru, and later attended Government Secondary School, Gusau. His legal education took him through Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigerian Law School, Lagos, and the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (UNILAG) Akoka, Lagos.
He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1981, and his journey led to various roles within the Sokoto State Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice, Sokoto State. Serving as a Chief Judge of the High Court of Justice, Zamfara State, his career progressed, and in 2004, he was elevated to the Court of Appeal. Notably, Justice Garba has held positions on influential bodies such as the Body of Benchers and the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee. He also presided over the Presidential Election Panel in 2011 and the panel that dismissed Atiku’s petition in 2019. He was elevated to the Supreme Court on November 6, 2020.
Justice Ibrahim Saulawa
Date of Birth: September 29, 1956
Place of Birth: Katsina, Katsina State
Justice Ibrahim Saulawa’s legal journey began after attending Primary and Secondary Schools in Katsina. He graduated from Bayero University Kano and the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, before being called to the Bar in 1982. His career commenced with the Ministry of Justice, Kaduna State, followed by roles as a Magistrate and Chief Magistrate in the Kaduna State Judiciary.
Subsequently, he served as Deputy Chief Registrar/Chief Registrar, Court of Appeal Lagos. Later, he held the position of High Court Judge, Katsina State Judiciary, until his elevation to the Court of Appeal in 2006. Justice Saulawa served as Presiding Justice in various divisions of the Court of Appeal before being elevated to the Supreme Court on November 10, 2020.
Justice Adamu Jauro
Date of Birth: June 26, 1959
Place of Birth: Gombe State
Justice Adamu Jauro, a native of Gombe State, obtained his LLB from Ahmadu Bello University and later a master’s degree in Law from the University of Jos. His legal career began with the Ministry of Justice in 1983, where he eventually became the Director of Public Prosecution. He served in various capacities in the Gombe State Judiciary until his promotion to the Court of Appeal in 2007. Justice Jauro worked in multiple divisions of the Court of Appeal before his elevation to the Supreme Court in November 2020.
Justice Tijjani Abubakar
Date of Birth: April 15, 1960
Place of Birth: Base Local Government Area, Yobe State
Justice Tijjani Abubakar’s educational journey started at Gashua Central Primary School and Government Secondary School, Gashua. He pursued a legal career at the University of Maiduguri and the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, being called to the Bar in 1983. His career includes roles as Attorney General, Permanent Secretary, and Commissioner for Justice of Yobe State. He ventured into private practice before returning to public service as a judge of the Federal High Court. His judicial career saw him serving in various divisions of the Court of Appeal, culminating in his elevation to the Supreme Court in 2020.
Justice Emmanuel Agim
Date of Birth: April 26, 1960
Place of Birth: Obudu, Cross Rivers State
Justice Emmanuel Agim’s educational journey led him from the University of Calabar to the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, and the University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. His distinguished career includes serving as the President of the Court of Appeal of The Gambia and later as Chief Justice of The Gambia. He was sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Swaziland in May 2012, and subsequently, as a Justice of the Court of Appeal of Nigeria in October 2019. In October 2019, he was further elevated to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
These seven justices, each with their unique backgrounds and experiences, collectively embody the wisdom and integrity that define the Nigerian judiciary. As they deliberate on the fate of prominent political figures, their decisions will undoubtedly shape the course of the nation’s legal and political landscape.