AMANDLA!

TheVanguard Edition

Rose Ukeje, OFR

Member, National Peace Committee of Nigeria, 2014 - to date.

Judge, Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal, Malborough, London, 2009-2014.

Chief Judge, Federal High Court of Nigeria, 2001-2008.

With the benefit of hindsight, I have been in the Legal Profession practically all my life. I went to the University of Nigeria in 1962. Thereafter, the Nigerian Law School, interrupted in 1966 by the Civil War. Returned to the Law School after the war and got called to the Nigerian Bar in 1971. As a result of the war, I followed my Husband to Zambia and was employed as an Assistant Legislative Draftsman. Returning to Nigeria, I joined the Federal Ministry of Justice as an Assistant Legislative Draftsman, Later became Deputy Legislative Draftsman, and was appointed the first female judge in the Federal High Court in 1986.

My first appointment as a Judge, was regarded as phenomenal. But my first posting from Lagos to Idiroko was rather punitive as the distance was about 100km away, with bad road conditions. My job at the Drafting Department during the Military Era toughened my resolve to surmount all difficulties on my. That saw me through the long service on the Bench. That resilience engendered my success on the Bench as I was later appointed in 2001, as the First Female Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, until I retired in 2008.

All my work from the Civil Service through the long service on the Bench, taught me that life is always a mixed bag. However, to the outsider, it appeared to be all glamorous and prestigious. You take the good along with the bad and also the grey areas in between. I am thankful to God for the opportunity provided me. Every situation has shaped me into a completely satisfied person.

I would therefore, strongly advise all upcoming young Women in Law, not to only perceive the good part, leaving out the unknown stormy side. They are all inseparable. It cannot be all sweet or bitter. There are stumbling blocks, banana peels. But garnered resilience and experience will steel and sail you through, depending on your outlook and perception of life. All in all, one must be a thorough bred mentor to generations coming behind.

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