MOHAMMED, Hon. Justice Bello

CON, GCON FIRST NIGERIAN CHIEF MAGISTRATE IN NORTHERN NIGERIA CHIEF JUSTICE OF NIGERIA MohammecIBello was bom in the old city of Katsina in 1930 to Muhammadu Gidado then Mufti of the then Katsina Emirate. Whik Muhammadu Gidado was refutedto be karnedin Islamic Law, his son Muhammad Bello was destined to bean authorityin secular law. ir -• 2ff?^^ Katsina Middk schoolfrom 1942 to 1945and'Kaduna Colkge (Barewa) from 1945 to 1948. For being very good in Physics and Mathematics Muhammad Belk quite naturally wanted to study Engineering. He even refused ajob as the Native Authority Accountanton thataccount. Butfate hadotherthings comingforhimfforafterkaving school, hejoined ™UACManagementTrainingGroupandashewasjustsettlingdowntothejob,tby Northern students to go to England on Scholarship to study law. The other two were (Mamman Nasir and BubaArdo both Justices). After studying the Mandatory Latin Language at the University Colkge Ibadan from 1952 to 1953 beingapre-requisiteforstudyinglMW, Belk and others were admitted into the Lincolns Inn London and oraduated in 1956. d On his return to Nigeria, he was employed as aPupil Crown Counsel and gradually rose to the position of Senior Crown Counsel. In 1961, he became thefirstNigerian Chief Magistrate in Northem Nigeria. In 1962, he proceededto titfmous Harvard Law School, Massachusetts, US A, for further kgal studies and after oneyear, returned tobisworkinKaduna.In1964,heretumedtotheMinistryofJusticeasDireaorofPublicProsecutions. In January 1996, Nigeria through the action of some unreasonabk and over ambitions Army Officers was plunged into political turmoil. That sameyear, Mohammad Belk was appointed aHigh CourtJudge in Kaduna and the Military government that took over the affairs of the country appointed him Chairman of the Commission of Enquiry into the affairs of theEkctricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN, now NEPA). After the civil war that engulfed Nigeria, Justice Mohammad Bello who had been elevated to aSeniorPuisne Judge became the first Northern Nigerian to art as the Chief Justice of the six Northern States when Chief Justice Nigel Reed was away on kave. During the Murtala Mohammad Military Administration, he moved to Lagos and joined the Supreme Court Bench. It was while there that he helped in resolving the "Sharia" debate in the 1977/98 Constituent Assembly. In the course of his judicial service, Justice Mohammad Bello also held extrajudicial appointments. He was Legal Secretary to the Cameroon under the British mandate in 1961; Deputy Commissionerfor Native Courts in 1963; Chairman, Ekctricity Corporation of Nigeria Commission of Inquiry, 1966; Chairman, North Central State Rehabilitation Commission, 1968 1970; Chairman Visitation Panek of the Universities of Ibadan and Lagos, 1971; Chairman, Kano Disaster Commission of Inquiry, 1973; Chairman, Joint Council of Nigeria, 1978; Chairman, Governing Council, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 1980 1987; Chairman, Body of Benchers, 1981 1982; National Commissioner, Sheriff Guards of Nigeria. He crowned it all by becoming the Nation's top Judge in 1988. The Babangda Administration appointed Mohammad Belk as Chief Justice of tbe Federation.Justice Belk, whik in service believed in the sanctity of law and did bisjob withoutfear orfavour. Till today, he is not an ideologue, not aradical and not an activist. He has always beenaplain Judicial Officer who kamtto do hisjob with every sense of responsibility. He retired in 1995 but remains amember of the Council of State by virtue of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He has been honoured by some Nigerian Universities University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo Univerity, Ik Ife, University of Lagos and Ahmadu Belk University, (ABU) Zaria. Agrateful nation has twice honoured him with two distinguished honours Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and Grand Commander of the Orderof the Niger (GCON). ".. Similarly, the people of this region, though almost equally diverse in their creeds, culture and tribal origins, have in a relatively short space of time bound themselves together in a unity based on tolerance and equal rights. The practice of these ideals, which reflect our belief in the equality of man before God, encourages us to think that when the time comes for us, asp art of there deration of Nigeria, to take our place in the Commonwealth we too, though the youngest member, will have aspiritual contribution to make to its (Councils!' The Sardauna, Sir Ahmadu Bello
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