The Judiciary Is at It's Precarious Time, Any Judge Who Retires Without Any Dent In His Reputation Should Thank God Says Iziyoba, JCA - Uju Ayalogu's Blog for News, Reviews, Articles and More

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Wednesday, 29 January 2020

The Judiciary Is at It's Precarious Time, Any Judge Who Retires Without Any Dent In His Reputation Should Thank God Says Iziyoba, JCA

The Judiciary Is at It's Precarious Time, Any Judge Who Retires Without Any Dent In His Reputation Should Thank God Says Iziyoba, JCA

Iziyoba JCA was overwhelmed with joy during the valedictory court session on the 24th of January, 2020 in honour of her and Bulkachuwa J. C. A, the President of the Court of Appeal.

In an address made available to TheNigeriaLawyer (TNL), Eugenia appreciated everyone for gracing the occasion. She said the special Court Session is of great significance to her as it was her last opportunity to sit with her learned brothers to address honourable Justices, Judges, Magistrates, learned senior counsel, learned gentlemen of the Bar and distinguished guests at the occasion.

“I am overwhelmed not only by the significance of the occasion but also by the large turnout of colleagues, friends and family to witness and celebrate with me and my family despite the difficulties posed by the closure of the Enugu airport. Today is a day to celebrate the end of a phase and the beginning of a new chapter in my life.”

The learned justice said she was born in Bukuru, Jos, Plateau State on the 19th day of January 1950 to the family of Chief F.G.N. and Lady Monica Okoye of Enugwu-Ukwu in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State. She said her father popularly known as Federal Government of Nigeria (coined from his initials F.G.N.) started his business life in the Northern part of Nigeria where she and most of her siblings were born.

Justice Eugenia said she was 7 years old when her father returned to the East and settled in the coal city of Enugu. At the time he returned to Enugu, he had seven of children – Four girls and three boys; the father lost two boys in infancy in Jos.

Her father’s quest to replace the two boys who died in infancy was never answered by the Lord Almighty as her mother had three more beautiful girls, two surviving – Uche and Joy.

“On his return to Enugu my father became a Building contractor, worked hard and cut a niche for himself as one of the known names in that Sector and with his Sons lifted the Company F.G.N. OKOYE & SONS LIMITED to great heights in the country. Structures built by the Company are scattered all over the Nation.

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We were comfortable and he provided well for his family and trained all of us to whatever level we aspired to. His success was of course partly attributable to my mother’s support as she kept the home front running smoothly while she engaged in small businesses from home.

Recounting more regarding her biography, the justice said: “I do not recollect my days as a school child in Jos. My Primary school was Christ Church Uwani Enugu. I sat for the entrance examination for secondary school from primary five. In those days the examination for all the Anglican Secondary Schools was the same. You fill the same form and make your choice of secondary school as is done in Jamb examinations today.

Amongst the schools were Archdeacon Crowther Memorial Girls School Elelenwa (ACMGS), St Catherine’s Secondary School Nkwerre and Ogidi Girls Secondary School. My choice from my limited exposure was Ogidi Girls because it was nearer home and I had some friends who attended the school.

My brother Felix of blessed memory who had then just finished from Dennis Memorial Grammar School Onitsha (DMGS) and was getting ready to travel abroad for further studies ordered me to put Archdeacon Crowther Memorial Girls School Elelenwa as my first choice as that was the best of the lot. I did not question his choice.

I obeyed. That was how I went to the best Anglican Secondary School at the time. I thank my dear brother now in heavenly abode for setting the pace for me that early! The foundation of discipline, hard work and determination to succeed in whatever I started was laid at ACMGS. At Elelenwa, our bathrooms and toilets were completely cement finished.

We were taught how to scrub these cement floors to ensure gleaming surfaces devoid of any green slur. We participated in cooking for the whole school during weekends. My mother was in shock when I came home for the holidays after my first term in the school and she witnessed the change in me.

I went around the house cleaning and cooking with joy and excitement. That was when schools were indeed training grounds for children. The story is so different today. Academically, ACMGS Elelenwa was tops. I passed my WASC in Grade 1. I was in the first year of Sixth Form at the same School in 1966 when the war broke out.

“I was then 16 years old and witnessed firsthand the trauma and devastating effect of the three and half year’s civil war. Fortunately for me, my father was comfortable enough and was able to evacuate his family first from Enugu to our village in Enugwu-Ukwu, then to Aba, Umuahia and finally to Nimo on each occasion the warfront came too close to our place of temporary abode.

In the course of movement we saw thousands of people trekking with their families carrying on their heads so much of their personal belongings as they could manage struggling to escape the fast approaching war front. Dead bodies of children and babies who could not survive the ordeal littered the roads. For years the sight of those dead bodies haunted me.

“My generation lost three and half years of our lives to the war. For some of us, it was not all pain and sadness. There was a kind of carefree attitude resulting from not knowing whether you will survive the next day or whether you will be mowed down in the next air raid.

We lived for each day making the most of the day. We didn’t have to worry about examinations or what the future had in stock for us. We simply lived for each day. It was under such atmosphere that I met my husband at the age of 18.

“To the utter shock of some of my friends, I got married during the war in 1969 at the age of almost 20 years. One of my friends said to me: “Chinwe how can you get married? Don’t you know that the man may not let you go to University?” My answer: “That is not possible. If my husband says I cannot go to University, that same day I am returning to my father’s house.” I said it confident that my father would welcome me back home with open hands.

He placed great value on education and would not agree with any man who stops his daughter from going to University. Luckily, my husband also came from a family who believed in education for both males and females; whether married or not. His support was total. My first child, Ebele was two weeks old when I sat for the entrance examination to University of Nigeria in June 1970.”

Initially Eugenia, JCA had no interest in law. Her interest was limited to a degree probably in English or History. But both Faculties were at the Nsukka Campus of the University. She wanted to stay with her family and needed to find a course in the Enugu Campus.

She eventually opted for Law because it was the only course available in the Enugu Campus of the University which she had some interest in and which she felt she had the aptitude for being an Arts inclined student.

She said she “passed the examination and was offered admission. In those days, the first few weeks were for orientation including opportunity to meet and be interviewed by a member of the Faculty. I remember being interviewed by Professor B. O. Nwabueze.

I think he was at the time the Dean of the Faculty. He asked me what I would want to do after my law education. I told him I would like to be a lecturer. I had not before then given the matter any thought. I gave the first answer that came to my head. Prof was amused.

He started explaining to me how well I must perform academically to qualify for acceptance to be a lecturer. In a rather small voice I stated that I will work hard and hope to perform well enough to be accepted. After my first year in the University, I passed so well that I was given a scholarship for my remaining years in the University provided I maintained a certain rather high point average.

In those days such record performance is taken note of by both Faculty members and the Student body. You do not want to lose the scholarship and your earned reputation by falling below the expected standard. I was under severe pressure and worked so hard that I had a permanent seat in the Library at Enugu Campus. I kept the scholarship throughout my years in the Faculty of law.

Those of us who were married while in the University had fewer distractions than the unmarried ones. Life was good. There was electricity; there was water; a small amount of money went a long way. Combining child bearing and schooling was no problem at all. I had two out of my four children while in the University.

“In my penultimate year in the University, precisely in 1973, my husband left Nigeria for the United States of America for further studies. I had to join him with the children immediately after my degree examinations in 1974.

For the first time, he flexed his muscles and wouldn’t allow me attend the law school with my mates in 1975. I did not insist anyway. I was lured by the pleasure of being with my husband whom I and the children missed tremendously in the one year he was away from us and the novelty of life in the United States of America.

While in the United States she did a Masters Degree in Business Administration in Rutgers University New Jersey and worked briefly in the Nigerian Consulate in New York. She missed home so badly that her husband did not wait for her to finish her final examinations.

He returned home immediately after his own final examinations and she joined him a few weeks after in December 1976 heavily pregnant with her second daughter Ifeyinwa. Nigeria was then such a beautiful country that they gave no thought whatsoever to having the baby in the United States.

The Justice said she thereafter attended the law school and was called to the Nigerian Bar with “the 1978 batch – the DIAMOND CLASS.”

She served at the Central Investment Company Ltd Enugu during her National Youth Service Corp days 1978 – 1979 putting into practice the knowledge she acquired from her Masters degree in Business Administration.

Then the company was one of the foremost investment companies East of the Niger with Late Mr. Peter Chigbo as the Managing Director and Dr. A. J. C. Mogbana as the company Secretary.

Eugenia “joined the Faculty of Law University of Nigeria Enugu Campus immediately after my Youth Corp Service in July 1979. There, I met my former lecturers, Professor C. O. Okonkwo, Professor Gius Ezejiofor (late), Professor E. I. Nwogugu, and Prof. D.I.O. Ewelukwa (late), C. O. Akpamgbo (late) and Dr. Jerry Okolo amongst others.

They welcomed me warmly and gave me assistance when needed. Prof Okonkwo in particular ensured that I worked hard enough to justify the confidence of the Faculty in giving me the opportunity. It was a happy time. My core subject was Law of Evidence with tutorials in Criminal law. It was a subject I was very comfortable with having been taught the subject in the University by none other than the eminent Dr. Jerry Okolo now a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.”

“After about six years of absolute concentration on her job as a lecturer, she convinced her brother Dr. Felix Chuks Okoye of blessed memory to open a branch of his law firm at First Avenue Independence Layout Enugu. In the chambers she cut her teeth in litigation. Even as at that time it was allowed for law lecturers to practice.

“Lecturing has many advantages. As a lecturer I had the opportunity to serve in many other areas of human endeavour. I served in various Boards and committees within and outside Government. More importantly, you enjoy the goodwill of a large number of former students both within and outside Nigeria.

I find it gratifying when someone comes up to me (as happens often) to introduce himself or herself as a former student. I know many of them are here today. I thank you all for sparing the time to be here today in my honour.”

In 1994, she was appointed the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Anambra State where she had an insight into the workings of government, albeit under a military regime without a State Legislature. She said the state of the Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary in Anambra State at the time (being one of the newly created States) was very bad.

The judiciary nationwide and particularly Anambra State Judiciary was so neglected, courts and chambers in pitiful state of disrepair and the remuneration so poor that it was an uphill task getting good lawyers to abandon their lucrative practices for the Bench. She did not want to go to the Bench but her husband, Chief Ossy Iyizoba desperately wanted her to go to the Bench. He prayed fervently about it.

“He made all kinds of promises to entice me including undertaking to renovate my court hall and chambers to my taste. God heard his prayers. After a great deal of oscillation, I ended up being sworn in as a Judge of the Anambra State Judiciary in January 1997. I am grateful to God, to my husband for his prayers and to Hon. Justice Igu JSC (Emeritus) for seeing to it that I made the right decision.

As a result of my indecisiveness I was sworn in as a judge a little later than other justices appointed with me; quite oblivious of the implication. Some years after, the order of seniority was reversed with me descending from the first out of seven to seven of seven.

Still eyeing life outside the bench, I saw it as an opportunity to bolt out. I sent in my letter of resignation to the National Judicial council despite the efforts of the then chief Judge, Hon. Justice G. U. Ononiba and many others to stop me. Just at the nick of time, Justice Araka of blessed memory saved the day.

The letter of resignation was withdrawn through Mr. Anyamene SAN of blessed memory who was at the time a member of the NJC. He received the letter of withdrawal as he was about to go in for the meeting where the letter of resignation would have been considered and acted upon.

Why am I telling this unsavory story? Many would have left it as the untold dark side of their career. I chose to tell the story to emphasize the point that once God has ordained a position for you, neither you nor your foes or friends can thwart that destiny. If God wants you in any position, He will place you there against all odds. God put me exactly where he wanted me to be and where He knew was best for me.

I am grateful to God and to all those who played a role in making me go to the Bench and in staying put. Events in our immediate past history have shown that for those who have the aptitude and the discipline to live the life of a judge, it is a good place to be despite the denigration of the judiciary today.

One good thing about the judiciary is that each individual judge is accountable for himself. Despite the ills of the society today, an upright judge stands tall and is known by his judgments and comportment.”

Eugenia, JCA said life in the judiciary of the newly created Anambra State was not a bed of roses. “The few judges’ quarters available were not enough. I had to commute from Enugu State to Anambra every day for sittings. Initially, the roads were good. My first posting was Onitsha. It took me an hour and a half to get to Onitsha.

As the years went by and I was posted to other divisions, Awka, Ogidi, and Nnewi; with the roads degenerating further it was not so easy. I was on the road four to five hours every day. When I was posted to Otuocha, my resolve was severely tested. The first week commuting to Otuocha was hell – the road was so bad that my entire body shook as we maneuvered through the rocky pot holes on the rickety road.

I was quite certain I would not survive the ordeal. Surprisingly as the days went into weeks and months, I adjusted. The experience made me realize just how resilient human nature is. No matter how hard the difficulties or a situation is, as long as you don’t throw in the towel mid way, you will always adjust to the situation and rise above the difficulties.

While I was still sitting at Otuocha, the then Governor of the State, His Excellency Dr. Ngige completed repair of the Otuocha road to the joy, excitement and praises of all Anambra citizens. My ordeal came to an end. I sang his praises to high heavens. My last posting before I was appointed to the Court of Appeal was Nnewi judicial division.

I was in the High Court of Anambra State for 13 years – January 1997 to July 2010. It was not an easy time – so much travelling and the work environment was below standard. It is by God’s grace that I survived the hard times. There have been improvements since those days. A lot still need to be done.”

She was appointed a Justice of the Court of Appeal in July 2010. She said her appointment was providential as her name was not in the initial short list sent to the Federal Judicial Service Commission in spite of the many recommendations from Justices of the Supreme Court, Court of appeal and Chief judges.

She appreciated all those who recommended her and especially R. A. Lawal Rabana SAN through Phillip Umeh Esq. who provided information that made her revert back urgently to then Chief Judge of Anambra State Justice Obidigwe to re-forward his Recommendation direct to the FJSC through the then Chief Justice of Nigeria Hon. Justice Katsina Alu of blessed memory.

Her first posting was the newly created Akure Judicial Division. The Government of Ondo State was anxious to have the Court of Appeal established in Akure. They gave up the brand new premises they constructed for Ondo State High Court Judiciary Headquarters to the Court of Appeald.

She was one of the three pioneer justices with Justice, Ngwuta JCA, now JSC as the Presiding justice and Hon. Justice Adumien JCA. Instead of spending four to five hours on the road everyday commuting to work, it took her less than 8 minutes to get to the Court from her official quarters.

She moved from the then depressing environment of the Nnewi High Court her last posting in Anambra State to a well apportioned, well furnished Court hall and Executive chambers. Akure was out of the way for family and friends. She found herself all alone – no visitors and no distractions. She gave 100% of her time to her work. “I think I wrote my best judgments in Akure.

On the elevation of Justice Ngwuta to the Supreme Court, Justice Kekere-Ekun now JSC was posted to Akure as the Presiding Justice. One great advantage of postings is that it gives you opportunity to really get to know your colleagues and forge friendships and relationships that stand the test of time.”

After two years in Akure, Eugenia was posted to Lagos.

She said “All my four children with their spouses and several of my siblings reside in Lagos. Their excitement on my posting to Lagos was palpable. My husband agreed to relocate to Lagos. My quarters in Glover Road Ikoyi became the beehive of activities for the Iyizoba family in Lagos. It was hectic but exciting to have all members of the family around. They were disappointed when I was transferred to Ibadan Division after four years.

Lagos certainly is a great training ground for all types of cases; admiralty, arbitration, contracts of all types. After four years, one is thankful for the opportunity to serve in the Lagos Division. It was indeed my longest posting. I am one of the lucky ones in the Court of Appeal who did not suffer from many frequent transfers.

Exigencies sometimes result in some justices being transferred to new divisions after less than a year in one division, while a few remain in one division for too long. It would certainly make for greater productivity if a system is devised whereby justices, subject to special circumstances stay a minimum of three years in a division before transfer to another.

“My other posting was Ibadan before the final posting to Enugu. Coincidentally my presiding justice in Ibadan Hon. Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem and I were posted to Enugu at the same time. My posting to Enugu was most welcome as it gave me the opportunity to settle back in my residence after so many years of absence.”

Eugenia, JCA appreciated God that in spite of her shortsightedness, she was appointed, accepted and remained a judicial officer until Sunday the 19th day of January 2020 the day she attained the statutory retirement age of 70 years. She served my country in a judicial capacity for a total of 23 years – 13 years in the Anambra State Judiciary and 10 years in the Court of Appeal.

She have always borne in mind that as a judicial officer she was accountable to God and answerable to Him in a dual capacity. Firstly, as an ordinary human being and secondly as a judge given the sacred duty of determining disputes between her fellow citizens.

She said she has in all these years tried her best and prayed for God’s Grace and Wisdom to do the right thing always. “As human beings, judges are not infallible. That is why we have the hierarchy of courts for appeals. The important thing is to be true to one’s conscience and to determine every case before you in accordance with the law and the justice of the particular case.

I am fulfilled and at peace with every single judgment I delivered in my 23 years as a judicial officer. Of course, any time judgment is delivered in a matter, the individual on the losing side is bound to be unhappy with the judgment. Some will attempt to explain their loss by making unfounded allegations against the judges.

I recollect that in one of the appeals we heard in Akure, the learned gentleman who appeared for the losing party instead of going on appeal to the Supreme Court wrote a petition against the panel to the National Judicial council. As is customary these days, the petition was sent to us for our comments.

We spent valuable time explaining our decision and forwarding the entire Record of Appeal to the NJC. This is one area in the administration of the Judiciary in Nigeria that requires complete overhaul. Every single petition written against a judicial officer no matter how frivolous is forwarded to the judicial officer for his comments.

Valuable judicial time is wasted responding to frivolous petitions. These petitions ought to be looked at by a special committee set up for the purpose and those deserving of further investigation forwarded to the judicial officer for his comments.

“These are indeed precarious times for the Judiciary as recent past events have shown. Any judge who retires on attainment of the statutory retirement age healthy and without any dent to his reputation must most humbly on bended knees thank the Lord Almighty for seeing him through the dangers of the times. The denigration of the Judiciary today is as a result of the inability of the Political class to get their act together.

They have made the Judiciary an integral part of their political manipulations by resorting to litigation for every single election. Perhaps it would be better in order to preserve the integrity and reputation of the main stream Judiciary to amend our laws to insulate it from involvement in political cases.”

The learned justice thanked God for her life. The address read in part:

“I am grateful to the Almighty God who had sustained me all these years and had seen me through the many challenges I had faced not only in my judicial career but in my family life. I know that any time I am at a cross road or dealing with a rather knotty or complicated appeal or family problem, what I do is ask God for help and place the issue at His feet. He has never failed me.

He is my rock and provider. God works through people in ways that sometimes leave me wondering what I did to deserve such favours. I am grateful to these helpers. The God I worship will reward you a thousand fold. Friends and family close to me who are aware of my many crosses often wonder aloud how come I appear so calm, collected, always well turned out like someone whose life is perfect without any care in the world.

It is all God’s doing and to Him I give all the glory. I frequently remind myself that everything about this world of ours is vanity, nothing but vanity. I can only do my bit to the best of my ability and leave the rest to God.

“I thank my beloved father of blessed memory. Though he was a rich man by all standards he did not pamper his children nor spoil us with material things. He provided the basics and raised us to know that the only way to lasting success in life is through hard work.

To enjoy the luxuries of life, you must work hard for it. May his soul continue to rest peacefully in the Lord. I also thank God for my mother who at 94 years going on to 95 is looking great. She is a mother in a million. In her hay days she had time for every single one of her surviving nine children.

When anyone of us had any issue, she is promptly there to give a helping hand. My mum has been indisposed for the past few weeks and I did not know she would be able to make it to my Valedictory court session. To the glory of God she is here with us today. I thank the Almighty God for her life and pray that He continues to give her good health, peace of mind and tranquility.

“I wish to express my deep gratitude to the Hon. President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa, OFR, CFR for this special Valedictory Court Session in my honour and for fixing her Farewell visit to this Judicial Division same day.

It definitely added to the grandeur of the occasion. I am grateful for the contents of your address which accorded me more than I deserve. I am extremely grateful to the Hon. PCA that all my entitlements and more came to me before my retirement.

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I attended many conferences both within and outside the country. I thank you most sincerely for your warmth and kindness to me. My transfer to Enugu my State of Residence greatly smoothened my path to retirement. I am most grateful.

As I am retiring just a few weeks before your lordship, may I seize this opportunity to wish you a happy retirement in the loving and joyful company of your husband, children and grandchildren.

“I wish to express my gratitude to my presiding justice Hon Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem. I had a warm cordial relationship with her in Ibadan which continued here. I am grateful for the very kind remarks about me in your address. I thank the Planning Committee for this event under the chairmanship of Justice Oyewole for a job well done.

I have always had an excellent warm working relationship with my colleagues in all my postings – Akure, Lagos, Ibadan and Enugu. I have made friends and forged bonds which continued after we were posted to other divisions. Many of them are here today. The staff of Ibadan Division is very well represented. I thank you all for making the tedious journey to be with me today.

“I thank the President Nigerian Bar Association Mr. Paul Usoro for being here personally and for his very kind remarks about me. I am very grateful. I am also grateful to the Hon. Attorney-General of Enugu State, the Representative of the Body of Benchers and the Representative of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria for their remarks. I am humbled by the encomiums showered on me.

“The Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Ngozi Emehelu set a precedent yesterday by the glorious and sumptuous banquet she organized in our honour yesterday – one of the advantages I enjoyed by having my valedictory court session same day as the PCA’s farewell visit to the Zone. What Can I say about National Association of Women Judges South East Zone. They made me really proud. I thank you all for your show of solidarity

“I thank from the depths of my heart Hon. Justices of the Court of Appeal, all my lords of the Superior courts, Magistrates, Learned silk, members of the Bar, my many friends outside the profession here present, members of the media and distinguished ladies and gentlemen. You have all done me great honour by your presence here today.

“I thank specially the Chief Judge of Anambra State Hon Justice O.M. Anyachebelu for ensuring that the Judiciary of Anambra State is well represented. Members of the inner and utter bar from Anambra are here in their numbers. I thank you all.

The Traditional Ruler of my town Nimo Igwe Maxi Oliobi, the Onowu, Hon. Justice Ononiba CJ Emeritus, Hon. Justice Anthony Igu JSC rtd, the Hon. Attorney General Anambra State Dr. Obianuju Nwaogu and many from the Ministry of Justice are here. The Senator representing my zone, Chief Uche Ekwunife is here. I thank you all for your presence.

“I sincerely appreciate the assistance given to us by the Governors of the three States which the Enugu Division covers especially His Excellency Rt. Hon, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Governor of Enugu State and His Excellency, Engr. Dave Umahi Governor of Ebonyi State. They have contributed immensely in making lighter our heavy work load.

My sincere gratitude to them. Their great respect for the judiciary is further shown by the admirable working relationship they have with their Chief Judges, Hon. Justice Ngozi Emehelu, chief Judge Enugu State and Hon. Justice Alloy Nwankwo Chief Judge Emeritus and his successor Hon Justice Anselem Nwaigwe C.J. I thank the Governors and their Chief Judges for making Enugu home for the Justices of Court of Appeal Enugu Division.

“I wish to thank in a special way the Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal and all the staff at the Headquarter for their assistance and special attention to me. I am grateful to the Deputy Chief Registrars of all the Divisions where I worked especially Mr. Hassan Deputy Chief Registrar of Ibadan Division and Mr. Ariyo of this division.

I thank all the supporting staff in my chambers – Josephine and Mary at Akure, Zainab, Lola and others in Lagos; Omolara, Tobi and others in Ibadan; Chikaodili, Victoria and Obiageli here in Enugu; my driver Sunday and my orderly Emmanuel. All the Court Registrars. Your commitment and loyalty is greatly appreciated.

“Without the strong support, encouragement and prayers of my husband, the story of my life would have been different. He is a very special husband who took great joy and excitement in any progress I made in my career.

I thank him immensely for the unflinching support, pride, love and trust he reposed in me. Ill health has deprived us of the joy of growing old together and enjoying each other’s company. In all situations we shall continue to thank God for His mercies. He knows best.

“I thank my children Ebele, Onuora, Ifeyinwa, Ossy and their spouses, Nedu, Susan, Ude and Esther for their support and love. My grandchildren, all eleven of them are doing wonderfully well and making me a very proud grandmother. I thank you all. My daughter Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, the CEO of Tony Elumelu Foundation turned a deaf ear to my request for at least a few months rest to enjoy the freedom of idleness.

Months back she insisted on knowing my line of interest and is the brain behind my new NGO “African Women Forum on Good Governance” (AWFG). Without mincing words and in spite of my bravado, I know that I will miss my colleagues and my judicial work. I therefore thank my daughter Ify for ensuring that on the closure of my judicial life, I would be kept busy right away with AWFG.

“I wish to acknowledge the encouragement and support I received from my family, both the FGN Okoye family and the Iyizobas throughout the tenure of my service in the Judiciary. You have all been solidly behind me, and shown great pride in my achievements. I subscribe wholeheartedly to the saying that the love of family is life’s greatest blessing. I cannot thank you all enough.

“I have friends who are like family to me. I thank you all for being here today. Life is empty and worthless without loving friends and family. I acknowledge the presence here of Nimo Lawyers Association, Old Girls ACMGS, members of my church especially CWO Holy Trinity Parish. I thank you for coming out in your numbers to support me. I am blessed.

“My Lord the Hon President of the Court of Appeal, my Lords, learned members of the Inner and Utter bar, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all for your attention and patience. May the Almighty God bless you all abundantly.”

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