On the distinguished occasion of the valedictory court session in honour of the esteemed Honourable Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad, JSC, CFR, the Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau SAN, OON, delivered a heartfelt address. The event, held on the 27th day of October 2023, marked the conclusion of Justice Muhammad’s illustrious career, having attained the constitutionally prescribed age for retirement.
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Expressing gratitude for the invitation extended to him, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association conveyed warm felicitations to Justice Muhammad on his 70th birthday, coinciding with the day of the valedictory ceremony. Acknowledging the occasion’s solemnity, he emphasized the transcendental nature of the event, emphasizing the significance of expressing gratitude in every aspect of life and work.
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Reflecting on the distinguished career of Justice Muhammad, the President highlighted his extensive tenure of service, spanning more than four decades in the judiciary, beginning with his appointment as Magistrate Grade II in 1978, a year after his call to the bar. Commending Justice Muhammad’s unwavering commitment to the cause of justice and the promotion of the rule of law, the President cited the profound impact of his lordship’s decisions on the legal landscape of the country.
Drawing from the immortal words of Sapara Williams, the first indigenous Nigerian to be admitted into the English Bar, the President underlined the paramount role of a legal practitioner in guiding the people and advancing the nation’s interests. He lauded Justice Muhammad’s contributions to the country’s jurisprudence, citing notable cases such as the landmark Abia State vs. Attorney General of the Federation, wherein Justice Muhammad’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and constitutional provisions stood resolute.
The President also emphasized the urgent need for the immediate implementation of the proposed upward review of the salaries of judges and justices, which is essential for the effective discharge of judicial duties. Recognizing the pivotal role played by Justice Muhammad as the pioneer Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal Sokoto State Division, the President hailed his efforts in bringing justice closer to the people and easing the burdens faced by legal practitioners in the region.
In a candid moment of introspection, the President extended a formal apology on behalf of the Nigerian Bar Association for any derogatory remarks made by legal practitioners towards judges and justices. He expressed concern over the negative impact of such behaviour on the sanctity of the legal profession. He emphasized the need for restraint and professionalism in all interactions concerning the judiciary.
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Concluding with heartfelt congratulations and well-wishes for Justice Muhammad’s retirement, the President prayed for his continued health and prosperity and extended warm regards to his family. The President also pledged the association’s commitment to working collaboratively towards fostering a more respectful and conducive environment for the judiciary, safeguarding its integrity, and upholding the principles of justice in the nation.
The valedictory court session, solemn and dignified, bore witness to the culmination of an outstanding judicial career, leaving an indelible mark on the Nigerian legal landscape.
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