Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa became Nigeria’s first female President of the Court of Appeal, PCA, on Thursday, following her inauguration by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mariam Mukhtar.
Bulkachuwa, who became the 6th PCA since the inception of the Court of Appeal in 1976, held the position in acting capacity from November 21, 2013.
In an address at an event held to mark the inauguration in the main courtroom of the Supreme Court, the CJN charged the new PCA to reposition the Court of Appeal in line with the ongoing reforms in the judiciary, stating that Bulkachuwa’s appointment came at a critical time.
“As I celebrate with you, let me also remind you that your appointment is coming at a critical time when the Nigerian judiciary is undergoing reforms; for this reason I charge you to make all efforts to reposition the court and ensure that confidence in the court is renewed,” she said, while also urging the PCA to carry out her duties with “all honesty, integrity and honour.”
Noting that the office of the PCA “is very tasking and arduous,” the CJN further advised Bulkachuwa to shun all manner of political pressures in the discharge of the assignment.
“In fulfillment of this noble role, I therefore enjoin you, as a custodian of this sacred position, to shun all forms of political pressures, and discharge your responsibilities in consonance with the oath of office you have just subscribed to.
“It is imperative for me to let you know that the task ahead is enormous and demanding. The judiciary no doubt has come a long way and we cannot afford to fail at this crucial point in our nascent democracy,” the CJN said.
Bulkachuwa assured of her commitment to the CJN’s fight against corruption in the judiciary.
She said that “Our amiable CJN did not mince words when she sounded a word of warning to judicial officers to eschew corruption and uphold best practices.
“I stand on this honour in the crusade against corruption because our energies, faith and devotion which we bring to this endeavour will rekindle and build back the trust; and the glow from that fire can trul;y light not only the judiciary, but our great Nigeria in general.”
She urged all judicial officers to get involved in the campaign against corruption in the justice sector.
“My distinguished colleagues let’s not ask how we can tackle corruption, but our main focus should be on what we can do to address corruption as an individual or collectively as a body. By so doing, we can rid the judiciary of corrupt practices.”
The PCA also spoke of plans to enhance the information and communication technology skills of justices of the Court of Appeal, noting that an eight-man committee had already been set up to work out modalities for training and re-training of the judicial officers on ICT.