Kano state governor, Engr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso appointed a Christian woman, Justice Patricia Mahmoud as Acting Chief Judge of the state

January 10, 2015 6:54 am

Meet new Kano Chief Judge, Hon Justice Pat Mahmoud, who is a Christian and from Benue state. She’s married to a Muslim in Kano. #Womanpower!

Kano state
governor, ,
as Acting Chief Judge of the state.

Justice Mahmoud has on two occasions faced discriminatory challenges
regarding state of origin and her elevation to Court of Appeal rejected
because she is from Benue state.

She replaces Justice Shehu Atiku, who retired from judicial service.
The governor said Patricia’s appointment is in compliance with section
271 subsection 4 of the Nigerian Constitution, which states that the
most senior judge acts as Chief Judge pending the appointment of a
substantive Chief Judge.

Patricia Mahmoud, an Idoma from Benue
state is a judge of the Kano State High Court. She joined the state
Ministry of Justice in 1983 and rose to become a Director of the
Drafting and Research department. She was appointed to the bench in
1992. She is active in the Association of Women Judges in and
abroad. She has been the Kano State Coordinator for Women in Nigeria
(WIN), a women’s rights organization for years.

Justice Mahmoud is married to Mr. A. B. Mahmoud, SAN, a one-time
Solicitor General and Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice of
Kano state.
In March 2014, Justice Mahmoud’s daughter, Zubaida
Mahmoud wrote an emotional piece about social discrimination her jurist
mother faced as reproduced below…

My mom
is Idoma, from Benue State while my dad is Fulani from Kano State. They
met in 1979 when they were both at the Nigerian Law School. After their
call to Bar, they were both posted to Rivers State for NYSC. They got
married in January 1983 and settled in Kano State.

My mom joined the Civil Service that year – worked in the
Ministry of Justice. She was appointed a Judge of the Kano State High
Court in December 1991. She has served Kano State for a period of 31
years, 22 of which as a Judge.

She has been nominated at least twice for elevation to the bench
of the Court of Appeal. But ‘disqualified’ on the basis that she is not
an indigene of Kano State and cannot, therefore, be considered under the
Kano quota. The National Judicial Council (NJC) has been applying the
Federal Character Commission Guidelines: “Guiding Principles &
Formulae for Distribution of All Cadre of Posts” as a basis for such
The relevant paragraph of the sub legislation states

“A married woman shall continue to lay claim to her State of
Origin for a purpose of implementation of the Federal Character Formulae
at the National Level.”

This, of course, implies that for my mom to be elevated to the
Court of Appeal, she has to be nominated by the Benue State Judiciary,
the State she has never served. How will any reasonable person expect
them to skip their own Judges and nominate her?!

For me, there are a number of issues with this guideline.

1. The most important one, it conflicts with the Constitution.
The Judiciary is responsible for interpreting and applying the Law and
one of the most basic things that even non-lawyers know is that if any
law is inconsistent with the provision of the constitution, the
constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall to the extent of
the inconsistency be void. See Section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution of
the FRN.
Section 15(1) of the Constitution of the FRN states that:

The motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be Unity and Faith, Peace, and Progress.
Accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst
discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status,
ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited.
(3) For the purpose of promoting national integration, it shall be the duty of the State to -…
(b) secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation;
encourage inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin,
or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties;…

The said guidelines are clearly inconsistent with the constitution as it discriminates on the basis of place of origin and sex.

2. The guidelines are discriminatory against women, and I find it
pitiful that the person enforcing it against them is a woman. One would
think that even if such a guideline were in force prior to her taking
office, she would ensure their rights are protected especially as it
isn’t even a Law of the NASS.

But then again, I find that we (women) are mostly our greatest
enemy. It reminds me of the Senior FEMALE Law School Lecturer that not
only addressed us as ‘gentlemen in skirts’ but always made it a point to
correct anyone that said “Ladies and gentlemen” by saying “There are no
ladies at the bar, only gentlemen in skirts”. In this 21st century!!!
Such a degrading and sexist comment were coming from a fellow woman. The
irony was that the male lecturers always addressed the class by saying
“Ladies and Gentlemen” but for the female ones it was always
“gentlemen”. It always baffled me. Why are we so retrogressive, we hold
on tight to archaic ways and then expect to progress as a country.

3. My mom is the most senior Judge, by the way, at the Kano State
Judiciary (apart from the CJ) and I dare say one of the most COMPETENT
and INCORRUPTIBLE ones (this, not because she’s my mother but a
verifiable fact). She was disqualified because she is not considered an
indigene of Kano, this, not minding that she has served Kano State all
her career life (31 good years). The interesting part of it all is that
the person, that got the appointment, is originally not an indigene of
Kano either. She, like my mother got married and settled in Kano, but
unlike my mother, has since then laid claims to Kano as her state of

How any reasonable person will sit and think that this is fair
and just is beyond me. Although I believe and pray that this is what is
best for her in shaa Allah, I cannot overlook the injustice. She has
accepted it quite gracefully, but I can only imagine her frustration.

She is next in line to become the CJ of Kano. Although she has
strong reservations about that, I have told her that I think she will
make a better impact there than at the Court of Appeal because anyone
that knows about the Kano Judiciary at the moment, will agree with me
that it is in turmoil. However, those, that don’t want her to benefit
from the Kano quota because of her indigeneship, are also against her
becoming the Chief Judge of Kano for the same reason. So I ask, for a
person in her position, what is she expected to do? She shouldn’t then
progress in her career because she married outside her state?!
What are the lessons here for us young lawyers:

1. For the unmarried ones that wish to join the bench in the
future, well you know what to do. When you meet prince charming, your
first question should be “Where are you from?” If he isn’t from your
State then “to the left, to the left”, say bye-bye!

2. If you must, then remember to find an LG in his state to lay
claim to immediately! For those that are already married, it might not
be too late to do that. Don’t worry about people knowing your secret,
this is Nigeria after all, those that bend or break the rules, always
get ahead. I believe that’s the message the NJC is passing to the
younger generation.

3. Forewarned is forearmed!
I’m reminded of my friend that
once told me her mother not only wants them to get married to someone
from their state, but from their village as well. I found it utterly
ridiculous but as it turns out, that is what the Nigeria of today
encourages so hey can you blame them?!.

In Nov, 2012, Hon Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo (JCA) made the buzz
because the CJN at first also refused to swear her in because of the
same reasons. There was a huge outcry against it before she was finally
sworn in.

However, it was a single success story because as it turns out the NJC is still strictly applying the Guidelines.

It’s sad that we are holding on tightly to such a retrogressive
and discriminatory ‘guideline’. And a huge shame that the Judiciary is
guilty of such injustice! I cannot stress the irony there.

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