Jumbo Offor was sworn in as a Justice of the Federal republic of Nigeria in the Appeal Court later than she was supposed to be. She was dramatically denied the well-deserved position on November 5th, 2012 albeit temporarily for no fault of hers.
This unpalatable dish served on a bonafide Abian was and is still reverberating through the Bar, Bench and political platforms of Abia. The shock and tremors that nearly led to a social earthquake was handled with exemplary equanimity by the Governor Sir T. A. Orji who calmed Abians to emulate him in his traditional and unquenchable belief in the court and Justice system of Abia and Nigeria.
If you need any reminder, Chief T. A. Orji was clamped into detention for a bailable offence he did not commit. All efforts seemed abortive and he had to be out of reach in a day the highest electoral body and the generality of Abians declared him fit to vote and be voted for.
The fact that he created a new record in electoral history of Nigeria that beats all imaginations surpassing the oddities and hazards of our colonial emancipation did not change the minds of his detainers is a case waiting to be investigated. At a point when hopes waned and truthful hearts dejected for the abject travesty, hope came proving Chief Jerry Obafemi Awolowo right that the darkest part of the night gives way to a pleasant dawn. To spare you the shock and anxiety of suspense, T. A. was released in the wee hours of his inauguration day on May 29, 2012. These are facts and that is the stuff that history is made of.
Sir T. A. Orji is an unshakable adherent of the courts ability to dispense justice no matter how long it takes, consequently when an election tribunal declared his seat vacant, he went back to court in a long and twisty appeal that dragged on for some time in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Some people suggested so many approaches and strategies as a way out for the Jombo Offor puzzle, most bothering on anarchic plots but T. A. calmed and comforted Abians like he did in the past during his trial, urging most of his supporters who wept more than the bereaved to sheath their daggers as he had infinite believe in the courts. According to the Governor “I have no doubt in my mind that the CJN who is highly respected as the first female judge to occupy the exalted position will swear in Justice Jombo Offor who is also an erudite Judge and a great Ambassador of Abia State”.
As emboweled in the Holy writ that faith can move mountains and change fates, Offor has taken her place in the Appeal Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Today, Justice Ifeoma Jumbo Offor has been sworn in but some questions are begging for answers, especially from feisty female and feminist groups with glaring evidence that Offor is an Abian of good standing buoyed by the constitutional provision and practice that indigeneship of a female can be altered by marriage. It is equally enshrined in our hallowed constitution of 1999, section 42 that there should be no discrimination of a Nigerian based on sex, religion or geographical location. Why then was she not sworn in?
What happens to her progression as a civil servant? Would the dates of swearing in not affect the nominal role giving an edge to her colleagues in terms of other opportunities?
Diverse sources have alleged that during this embarrassing standoff by the authorities, there was no formal correspondence or publication stating her shortfall if any.
At a point when we are trying to bridge the yawning and embarrassing gender gap, why was Jombo denied this Jumbo place in the Justice system which has through many publications and showings boasted fairness and forthrightness. The words of late Martin Luther king Jr can not be more emphasized elsewhere than the present scenario as he said, ‘injustice any where is a threat to justice every where.’
Had it been during the military era, the khaki boys would have drawn quanta of flak for this anomaly, so why do civilians, especially the justice system that seem to be the last hope of the oppressed be involved in such without explanation, apology or confession if it was not a well hatched idea to embarrass Abia State and shortchange our striving sisters.
Evident from the way Nigerians from all walks of life spoke out against it, an explanation, at worst, an apology can sooth some frayed nerves. We all know that to err is human. A procedure of delayed Justice has been enacted possibly unconsciously; all efforts should be made to deter a repeat performance. According to Leo Tolstoy, ‘it is far more honorable to admit one’s mistake than to let matters proceed to the irrevocable.