Speech Delivered by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef O. Fagbemi, SAN, at the Valedictory Session of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to Mark the Retirement of Her Lordship, Hon. Justice Amina Adamu Augie, JSC, CFR (Rtd.), Held at the Supreme Court Complex, Abuja, on the 21st of September 2023
Distinguished guests, my lords, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to extend my gratitude to the Honorable Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, CFR, and all the honourable justices of the Supreme Court, both serving and retired, for the privilege of addressing this esteemed gathering today. I would like to acknowledge and adhere to the established protocols set by my predecessors.
It is an honour to be here on this occasion, paying tribute to a distinguished jurist, a legal luminary, and a paragon of patriotic service to our beloved nation. We gather here today to celebrate the retirement of Honorable Justice Amina Adamu Augie, JSC, CON, who has had a remarkable career in the judiciary and public service. It’s worth noting that Her Lordship celebrated her seventieth birthday 18 days ago, on the 3rd of September, 2023.
While I am grateful for the opportunity to address this august gathering, I must admit that my enthusiasm is somewhat tempered by the fact that my very first official public duty as the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, precisely one month into my tenure, is to deliver a speech at the retirement ceremony of such an illustrious legal figure. However, I take solace in the fact that this is a moment of thanksgiving, and Justice Augie’s departure is not a farewell to public service but a transition into a new phase. Moreover, her retirement comes when she is still robust and available for continued service to humanity.
I would like to begin my address by expressing our profound gratitude to the Almighty for preserving the health and well-being of Her Lordship throughout her distinguished service to the nation, spanning over four decades and counting. Justice Augie genuinely deserves all the accolades and praises bestowed upon her, as she has dedicated her career to our great country and enriched the lives of many.
My lords, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Honorable Justice Amina Augie, both in her early life and throughout her educational and career journey, have traversed Nigeria’s length and breadth. She has lived and worked in every geopolitical zone of our nation, embodying the vision of our founding fathers for a united, integrated, and harmonious Nigeria.
A closer look at Justice Amina Augie’s impressive record reveals a career that spans legal practice, administration, academia, and a highly successful judicial journey, climbing every rung of the judicial ladder from Chief Magistrate to Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria over more than three decades. I will briefly overview some of the significant highlights of her remarkable career.
In her early years, Justice Augie excelled academically, receiving numerous awards and distinctions, including the Faculty Prize for Overall Best Student at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1977. These early achievements laid the foundation for her future accomplishments.
Her scholarly pursuits led her to lecturing positions at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1980-1982), the Nigerian Law School, Lagos (1984-1988), and part-time lecturing at the Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto (1989-1992), all while serving as a Chief Magistrate in the Sokoto State Judiciary. Many of her students have become professors, senior advocates, and distinguished jurists, a testament to her dedication and impact.
Justice Augie’s versatility and commitment to knowledge are reminiscent of the legendary Justice Teslim Olawale Elias, who served as the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Lagos while concurrently holding the position of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice during General Yakubu Gowon’s regime between 1966 and 1972. Her ability to balance teaching responsibilities in higher education institutions while discharging the duties of a Chief Magistrate is a testament to her remarkable capabilities.
Her contributions to jurisprudence are evident in her landmark judgments and legal pronouncements throughout her distinguished career. In one of her notable cases, JOLUGBO & ANOR v. AINA & ANOR (2016), she provided insightful commentary on the resulting trust and presumption of advancement in family law. In another case, NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL v. HON. JUSTICE YA’U IBRAHIM DAKWANG & ORS (2019), she elucidated the circumstances under which an appellate court should or should not interfere with the discretion of a lower court.
Justice Augie’s legacy also includes her role in the Bayelsa State Governorship Election petition in 2020, where she made significant pronouncements on the inherent powers and discretion of the Supreme Court to set aside its own decisions. Her contributions to legal jurisprudence have left a lasting impact on the legal community.
Beyond her judicial career, Justice Augie is a humanist, a scholar, and a prolific writer, having presented over 100 seminars and workshop papers in various countries. Her clear and impactful voice in the courtroom needs no amplification, as her eloquence and diction have constantly effectively communicated her rulings and decisions.
Justice Augie’s retirement from the Bench, while a loss to the nation, is not the end of her contributions. She remains available and capable of further service to our great country. We, therefore, celebrate her accomplishments and look forward to her continued contributions to our society.
In conclusion, I would like to express our deep appreciation to Honorable Justice Amina Augie for her immeasurable service to our nation. Her forthrightness, legal knowledge, and wisdom have contributed significantly to the cause of justice in Nigeria. While we will miss her presence on the Bench, we hope that she will continue to lend her wealth of experience to the development of our nation. Our nation is eternally grateful for all her commendable achievements, and we will not hesitate to seek her counsel whenever the need arises.
Thank you, and may God bless our beloved country, Nigeria.
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