By Danjuma Katsina
In the book Nahjul Balagah it was reported that in one of the letters written by Sayyadi Mu’awuya (R.A) to Sayyadina Ali (A.S), he wrote that he will send soldiers with the heart of a lion. In his reply Sayyadina Ali (A.S) said he will send soldiers with the heart of a women. Sayyadina Ali (A.S) was asked what he meant by that, and he said the heart of a woman is more determined than that of a lion.
I can attest to this notion of women’s heart, going by various instances I came across in the course of my research as a journalist, I have for time immemorial realized that anyone who appears to be too powerful or too arrogant, women are the recipe to his downfall or can teach him the lesson of life.
Right from the time I started my career as a journalist, I have covered so many court cases which have over the years enable me to accumulate vast experience of life reality. However in all the years of my career, I have never come across a judicial officer and a lady whose wisdom and expertise impressed me as much as Hajiya Hadiza Shagari, a judge at the Federal High Court in Katsina.
I have witnessed many instances in which her actions and rulings on the basis of justice and fairness humbled many lawyers and indeed reduce them to mere learners in the temple of justice. In this little piece I will only cite two of such instances to provide a convincing justification. At one of such cases, a lawyer apologized many times, thanked her, and assured her that he has learnt a lesson and conclude with a phrase “we are always learning”.
In the court case between Federal Government of Nigeria and the former Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Ibrahim Shehu Shema. The EFCC lawyer was furious and she kept cautioning him. At a point he threatened to walk out of the court room but she immediately address the situation by quoted a section of court procedures and threatened to invoke that section if he walks out of the court room. It was then that I saw how learned men were brought to their knees, as Justice Hadiza Shagari rendered that lawyer speechless by her sharpness. At that point I almost clap my hands.
Secondly, in the case between Muhammad Mahdi Shehu and Federal Government of Nigeria, Justice Hadiza Shagari gave the floor to a lawyer but he kept talking repetitively. He explain a point and then explain it all over again, until everyone in the court room got tired of listening to him.
Whenever she attempts to interrupt him he raises his voice. He wanted her to lose her temper but she remained calm. At a point the lawyer raised his voice so loudly that from the first floor he could be heard at the ground floor. She remained calm while asking him questions. Eventually the lawyer admitted that he acted unprofessionally and started apologizing. The court audience almost burst into laughter and excitement, being impressed by her gentle approach and demonstration of experience in handling situation. When she started lecturing him on court procedures and provisions of the law, he kept apologizing and thanking her endlessly while admitting her astuteness and his own lack of decorum.
Justice Shagari style of conducting court proceedings keeps audience of the court very attentive, no one falls asleep, because she makes every sitting interesting. She don’t comprise rules and procedures and this is what makes prosecutors to be fully armed before attending her court sitting. A lawyer confirmed to me that, in her court one have to read and research hard to avoid embarrassment.
Born in Shagari town in Sokoto State, Justice Hadiza Shagari did her O-Level in Minna and Kaduna States and proceeded to Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto (UDUS) and University of Abuja, Gwagwalada. She also attended Law school in Lagos.
She worked with the Nigerian Ports Authority, Lagos, from 1994 to 2005 before becoming a judge in 2006, starting from Abuja where she spent ten years in that capacity. Afterwards she was transferred to Lagos. She is now a judge at the Federal High Court in Katsina.
One very impressive trait about her career was her decision to leave the very prestigious and lucrative Nigerian Ports Authority where she had served in the legal department, to become a judge in a court. Her close associates say she was motivated to take that decision by her urge to help people that are being treated unjustly in courts.
Women of high caliber are worth commendations for their contributions to humanity and for being a role model in their profession. However this piece was also meant to encourage the younger generation to emulate Justice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari.
Danjuma Katsina is a publisher of an online newspapers:
• Katsina City News
• The Links News
• Jaridar Taskar Labarai
Can be reached @ 08035904408.