The Nigerian constitution specifies that the Supreme Court of Nigeria shall have a maximum of 21 judges, but the number of justices who currently render decisions at the top court greatly exceeds what is required by the constitution.
The Nigerian Supreme Court now has 11 judges after Justice Amina Adamu Augie retired on Friday, September 22, 2023.
Here are the profiles of the 11 justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria including the Chief Justice, who oversees the court’s overall operations.
Judges of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
- Justice Olukayode Ariwoola
- Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad
- Justice Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun
- Justice John Inyang Okoro
- Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji
- Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba
- Justice Helen Morenikeji Ogunwumiju
- Justice Ibrahim Mohammed Musa Saulawa
- Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim
- Justice Tijjani Abubakar
- Justice Adamu Jauro
1. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola
Nigeria’s Chief Justice is Olukayode Ariwoola. In 2011, he was appointed as a justice of the Nigerian Supreme Court.
Born in Iseyin, Oyo State, on August 22, 1958, Ariwoola completed his legal studies at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), earning a bachelor of laws with honors in July 1980.
He was admitted to the Nigerian bar in July 1981, and shortly after that, he enrolled as a solicitor and advocate at the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The appointment of Ariwoola as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by former President Muhammadu Buhari was approved by the Senate in September 2022 following the departure of former Chief Justice Muhammad Tanko in June 2022.
2. Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad
Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad was born in October 1953 in the Chanchaga local government area in Minna, Niger State.
The judge earned his BL at the Nigerian Law School in 1977 after earning his LLB (Hons) at Ahmadu Bello University in 1976. Between 1982 and 1983, he continued on to Warwick University in Coventry, UK, where he earned his LLM. He then went to the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, where he earned an Advanced Certificate in Practice and Procedure.
After beginning his professional career in 1976 as a Higher Registrar at the High Court of Justice in Minna, Justice Dattijo was appointed a Magistrate Grade II in 1978 after completing the NYSC program.
He advanced to the position of Chief Magistrate in 1984, was named Chief Registrar in 1986, and was nominated as a judge of the Niger State High Court in 1989. He was elevated to the Supreme Court of Nigeria in July 2012.
3. Justice Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun
Justice Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun, who was born on May 7th, 1958, earned her LL.B from the University of Lagos in 1980 and her LL.M from the London School of Economics and Political Science in November of that same year.
She was admitted to the Nigerian bar in July 1981, and in December 1989, the Lagos State Judiciary appointed her as a Senior Magistrate Grade II. She was appointed to the High Court of Lagos State in July 1996. She was promoted to the Court of Appeal eight years later.
Justice Kekere-Ekun served on the Court of Appeal ICT Committee from 2011 to 2013, and on June 8, 2013, she was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
4. Justice John Inyang Okoro
Justice John Inyang Okoro was born in July 1959 in the Nung Ukim, Ikono Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
From 1979 to 1981, he attended the School of Arts and Science in Uyo, and from 1981 to 1984, he attended the University of Lagos. He also studied law at the Nigerian Law School in Lagos and was admitted to the Nigerian bar in 1985.
Justice Okoro began his legal career as a Magistrate Grade 11 in 1986 and ascended through the Magisterial Cadre to become Chief Magistrate Grade 1 in 1996 before being appointed to the Akwa Ibom State High Court in 1998.
In 2006, he was elevated to the Court of Appeal, and in November 2013, he was elevated to the Supreme Court.
5. Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji
Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji, who was born in Gashua, Gombe State, in November 1956, graduated from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria with a diploma in law in 1976 and an LL.B Hons in 1980. She received her bar admission in 1981, and in 1982 she started working as a State Counsel.
She began her career in 1982 as a State Counsel and progressed through a number of roles, eventually becoming an Acting Senior State Counsel in 1984, a Senior Magistrate II in 1986, a Senior Magistrate I in 1987, a Chief Magistrate II in 1989, a Chief Magistrate I in 1991, and a Chief Registrar in November 1991. She became the first female judge in the Yobe State Judiciary when she was appointed Higher Court Judge in December 1991.
Before her elevation to the Supreme Court in January 2019, she was the presiding Justice, the Court of Appeal Kaduna Division, a position she held for four years. She is happily married with three children.
6. Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba
Justice Mohammed Garba Lawal hails from Gusau Local Government Area of Zamfara State. He was born in November 1958.
In 1980, he graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, where he studied Law, after which he proceeded to Nigerian Law School, Lagos, from 1980 to 1981 and the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (UNILAG) Akoka, Lagos in 1989. He was called to the Nigerian bar in 1981.
At the Nigerian Airforce Headquarters in Lagos, he started his legal career in 1981. Later, from 1982 to 1986, he was a magistrate in the Sokoto State Judiciary. From 1989 to 1991, he was the deputy chief registrar of the Sokoto State High Court of Justice.
From 1991 to 1993, he served as Solicitor-General and Director-General of the Ministry of Justice in Sokoto State. From 1993 to 1996, he presided as a judge of the High Court of Justice in Sokoto State. From 1996 to 2004, he presided as Chief Judge of the High Court of Justice in Zamfara State. He was promoted to the Court of Appeals in 2004 and subsequently, in November 2020, to the Supreme Court.
7. Justice Helen Morenikeji Ogunwumiju
Justice Helen Morenikeji Ogunwumiju was born in March 1957 in Ondo State. She obtained her degree from the University of Lagos in 1977, and in 1978 she was admitted to the Nigerian bar.
She served as Chief Magistrate in the Ibadan, Ile-Ife, Eruwa, Igboora, and Oyo Magisterial Districts after being appointed as a Chief Magistrate Grade 1 in Oyo State in 1991.
Justice Ogunwumiju was appointed to the Ondo State High Court in 1998 as a judge with civil and criminal jurisdiction. In November 2005, she was promoted to the Nigerian Court of Appeal.
She was appointed to the Supreme Court in November 2022 after having presided over the Benin and Enugu Divisions of the Court of Appeal from 2013 to 2022.
8. Justice Ibrahim Mohammed Musa Saulawa
Justice Ibrahim Mohammed Musa Saulawa was born on September 29, 1956, in Katsina State, and received his Bachelor of Law degree from Bayero University in 1981.
The following year, he attended the Nigerian Law School in Lagos and was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in July 1982.
In August 1982, Justice Saulawa began his work with the Ministry of Justice in Kaduna State. Between 1987 and 1991, he was Chief Magistrate in Katsina State, and from 1994 to 2006, he was High Court Judge in Katsina State.
He was appointed to the Nigerian Court of Appeal in 2010, and subsequently to the Supreme Court in November 2020.
9. Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim
Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim was born in April 1960 in Cross Rivers State. He obtained his first Law degree at the University of Calabar and his LL.M from the University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom.
Agim was a Nigerian judge who was the Chief justice of Gambia from 2009 to 2013. He was a former Judge of the Supreme Court of the Gambia.
He was also a former justice at the Nigerian Courts of Appeal but now serves as a justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
10. Justice Tijjani Abubakar
The profile of Justice Tijjani Abubakar is currently not available on the website of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
11. Justice Adamu Jauro
The profile of Justice Adamu Jauro is equally not available on the apex court’s website.