From all indications, Justice Alooma Mariam Mukhtar, is a woman of history. She has recorded many firsts in her lifetime. The most recent of all is her nomination, yesterday, by President Goodluck Jonathan, to head the judicial arm of the government as Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
Though the quest for more participation of women in governance would be receiving a boost as a result of her nomination, it would be worthy of note to state that Justice Mukhtar did not get to the position through mere quota system, but through hard-earned merit.
Obviously, conscious of her place in history, Justice Mukhtar recently rejected an offer for an international appointment when nominated as the Chief Judge of The Gambia.
In addition to being the first CJN, Justice Mukhtar was also the first female President of the Court of Appeal, a position she held for 12 solid years (from 1993 to 2005).
As head of the appellate court, Justice Mukhtar, was instrumental to preserving the nation’s democracy; especially during the crisis generated by the struggle for power between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his vice, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
From the appellate court, she was in 2005 elevated to the Supreme Court. There, she recorded yet another first - the first female Supreme Court justice. Though she shares seniority with the out-going CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher who was appointed CJN in August 2011, she remained steadfast and waited for her turn.
A child of destiny, Justice Mukhtar, who hails from Kano, was born on November 20, 1944. Then the long road to stardom started for her when she enrolled at St. George’s Primary School, Zaria where she began what was to become a prosperous career. She later attended St. Batholomew’s School, Wusasa, Zaria, for her secondary education.
Young Mukhtar attended Rossholme School for Girls, East Brent, Somersets, England and later Reading Technical College, Berkshire England. She also was at Gibson and Weldon College of Law and was called to the English Bar in absentia in November, 1966.
The following year, Justice Aloma Mukhtar was called to the Nigerian Bar on June 26, exactly 45 years ago.
A life member of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Justice Mukhtar started her career as a Pupil State Counsel, Ministry of Justice, Northern Nigeria, in 1967. She was later to work at the Office of the Legal Draftsman, Interim Common Services Agency, Magistrate Grade I, North Eastern State Government, 1971.
She became the Chief Registrar, Kano State Government Judiciary in 1973 and a judge of the High Court of Kano State where she served from 1977 to 1987.
From there she was appointed a Justice of the Court of Appeal in 1987 and served till 1993 when she became the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, a position she held from 1993 to 2005. In 2005, Justice Mukhtar was elevated to the Supreme Court where she has just made history as Chief Justice- designate.