Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme: A Judicial Icon Elevated to Supreme Court

Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme: A Judicial Icon Elevated to Supreme Court

Amby Uneze in Owerri

Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme’s  career in the Nigerian judicial system embodies the epitome of hard work, integrity, and dedication. Rising through the ranks to become one of the country’s most esteemed Supreme Court justices, she is indeed a judicial icon. 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 commitment to justice right from the early days helped cultivate 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 uncompromising stance against gender discrimination has inspired changes in legal thought 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 by 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 with 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. She was first appointed a Judge of the Imo State High Court in 1995. 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 that started the case could not make progress until the matter was assigned to her and without blinking an eye, she delivered judgement 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 has 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-lheme is married to High Chief Uzoma Nwosu-lheme, and 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 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, economist and two lawyers with last son also holding a Ph.D in law.

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