Meet the First Female Lawyer from Northern Nigeria

Updated: Dec 16, 2021
By Deen Dabai

Born on 20th November 1944 in Lagos, The Kano-based Mariam Aloma Muktar, who is also an Adamawa state indigene is the first female to become a lawyer in northern Nigeria. Although it has been said that her father, Mukhtar is a Hausa by tribe and her mother Hajiya Hadiza Ashafa was from Adamawa State, Mubi to be precise, Aloma Mukhtar was said to have been born in Lagos and because of that, she can speak the Yoruba language with more fluency than any of her native languages.

In June 1967, Aloma Mukhtar became the first female to become a lawyer in Northern Nigeria, and thereupon, the pioneer female Magistrate in the Northern region. She was the first female Chief Registrar of the Kano State Judiciary, so also the first female Judge of the High Court in Kano State, and the first woman jurist to be appointed to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Nigeria. In July 2012, she was appointed Chief Justice of the federation, therefore, she became the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Read: Biography of the Legendary Gambo Sawaba

Early Education

She had her early education at Saint. George’s Primary School, St. Bartholomew’s School, Wusasa, all in Zaria Kaduna State. She left for England where she had her secondary school education at Rossholme School for Girls, East Brent, Somerset, England.

At the time she attended the Rossholme School for Girls in Somerset County in England in 1960, she encountered some challenges as she was said to be the first Nigerian or rather first black person of African extraction to become a resident of East Brent.

Aloma Mukhtar had completed her studies at Technical College in Berkshire, and then Gibson and Weldon College of Law, England. After completing her law program, Aloma Mukhtar was eventually called to the English Bar in absentia in November 1966.

She was called to the Nigerian Bar in the year 1967, going on to serve in several capacities, She started as a pupil council in northern Nigeria’s Ministry of Justice.

Career and Service to the Nation

After law school, a letter of appointment was already waiting for her as a pupil counsel in a justice ministry. Mukhtar, therefore, began her career in 1967 as Pupil State Counsel, Ministry of Justice, Northern Nigeria, and rose through the ranks. She worked in the Office of the Legal Draftsman and Interim Common Services Agency and she was already relishing the practice with no plans to go into the bench.

In January 1977, she was appointed judge of the Kano High Court, and with that, she became the third female to be appointed a judge in the history of Nigeria. Similarly, the first female magistrate grade I in northern Nigeria, and being 32 years of age, she was the youngest judge in the whole country at that time.

During her outstanding profession, Justice Aloma Mukhtar achieved several notable Firsts. She is a woman of many firsts, some of which are:

  • First female lawyer from Northern Nigeria.
  • First female justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
  • The First female Chief Justice of Nigeria;
  • First woman jurist to be appointed to the Court of Appeal
  • She became the first female permanent member at Nigeria’s highest advisory body, the National Council of State.
  • First female judge of the High Court in Kano State judiciary.

Awards and Recognitions

Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar has been recognized and celebrated nationally and internationally for her value-added contributions and the impacts she was able to make on the growth and development of the judicial system. In the course of her extraordinary work, she received countless awards and recognition, and some of which are:

  1. Gold Merit Award for Contribution to the Development of Law in Kano State (1993).
  2. Recognition by the International Federation of Women Lawyers (in 1989 and 2003).
  3. Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Abuja.
  4. Inducted to the Nigerian Hall of fame (2005), conferred with the National Honor of Commander of the Order of Niger (CON) in 2006, GCON in 2012.
  5. She was also honoured during the Centenary Celebration of Nigeria with the Outstanding Contemporary Public Servant award.

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