By Alex Enumah
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, yesterday swore-in Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem as substantive President of the Court of Appeal, with a charge to maintain the credibility and integrity of the appellate court.
This is as former governor of Lagos State and All Progressives Congress National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has described the new President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Dongban-Mensem, as one of the nation’s foremost able jurists.
Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony which held at the Supreme Court complex in Abuja, Justice Muhammad enjoined the new president to live up to expectations by maintaining cordial relationship with her colleagues on the bench of the Court of Appeal.
The CJN while stating that the appellate court had the largest number of Justices in the country, stressed the need for the president to be up and doing.
Specifically, the CJN counselled Justice Dongban-Mensem, who is the second female to be appointed President of the Court of Appeal to ensure regular meetings with Presiding Justices in all divisions of the court as well as other Justices to enable them understand challenges that may face the court.
The CJN further tasked the new appellate court president to continue with her good character, behaviour and hardwork, adding that the sky would not only be a limit but a stepping stone for her.
“From my personal experience, workload in the Court of Appeal, especially in the divisions is the highest. It is a home of work, it is a home of cooperation, but with your experience, hardwork and zeal, you will not find your new status difficult.
“If you sustain your good character and conduct, your tenure will definitely be an excellent one. Try to be yourself and do not allow others derail you. Remain what we know you for,” CJN added.
Responding to questions from journalists, shortly after her inauguration, Dongban-Mensem expressed joy over her confirmation as substantive President of the Court of Appeal.
She said she felt honoured and at the same time challenged to be appointed into the office of the President of the Court of Appeal, based in the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari.
She assured Nigerians that she would do her best in ensuring that justice was applied at the appellate court, adding that she would build on the legacy left behind by her predecessors.
Justice Dongban-Mensem was first appointed acting president in March 6, this year by President Buhari, following the retirement of former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, who had on that day attained the compulsory retirement age of 70 years.
The president late last month again extended her acting capacity for another three months but however sent her name to the senate for confirmation as substantive president last week.
Among well-wishers at the swearing in ceremony include; governors of Sokoto, Plateau, Niger and Kebbi States.
Tinubu in a congratulatory letter to Justice Dongban-Mensem personally signed by him and made available to THISDAY by his Media office said: “By way of this letter, I convey to you my special congratulations over your appointment and inauguration as President of the Court of Appeal.
“This is a richly deserved appointment. I have always followed your excellent judicial career with admiration. You have distinguished yourself as one of the nation’s foremost able jurists.
“Your appointment augurs well for the performance of the Court of Appeal and it also serves to encourage more of young women to join the legal profession. You serve as a role model.
“Your diligence, intellect and commitment to justice and the rule of law are exemplary and laudable. You administer cases brought before you and dispense justice without fear or favour.
“As Justice of the Court of Appeal in Lagos, you discharged your duties with excellence and impartiality. Now you have risen to lead that Court and I know you will do so with the same love of justice and dedication to the law that has always been your hallmark.
“Again, congratulations and the best of success to you.”