After an impactful service in the judiciary, which spans decades, Mary Ukaego Odili is set to retire as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Justice Odili will be hanging her wig on May 12, 2022, the same day she will be clocking 70, the retiring age for Supreme Court Judges.
Justice Odili, who doesn’t look anything near her age is one of the foremost jurists, constitutional avatars and legal titans this country has ever produced.
She began her legal career as a Magistrate grade III in November 1978 after she was called to the bar in 1977.
She served as Chief Magistrate Grade I; Chairman of the Juvenile Court, President, Marine Board of Inquiry into the 1979 Buguma Boat disaster; Chairman, Constitution Drafting Committee of the University of Nigeria Alumni Associates.
She was the inaugural Chairperson of the International Federal of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Rivers State among several other appointments.
In 1992, she became a High Court Judge and she continued on this path even while serving as the First Lady of Rivers State, alongside her husband, former governor of Rivers State, medical doctor turned politician, Peter Odili for eight years.
She once held the offices of Justice, Court of Appeal, Abuja Division and Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Kaduna Division.
On May 3, 2011, she was nominated by the then President Goodluck Jonathan to the Supreme Court as a representative of the South-East geo-political zone.
One of her landmark achievements as a Justice of the Supreme Court was leading the five-man panel at the Supreme Court that nullified the governorship election of David Lyon, after his deputy was found wanting for submitting fake certificates during pre-election screening after they were declared winners on November 16, 2019, Bayelsa State governorship election.
All through her tenure in the nation’s judiciary, Justice Odili has sufficiently displayed a reassuring penchant for straight forward legal and judicial constitution, interpreting the law accurately and appropriately while delivering judgements resoundingly and decisively without caring whose ox was gored in the process.
On the day she is expected to retire, elder statesman, and legal luminary, Prof Ben Nwabuze, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, will be delivering a valedictory address on behalf of the Body of SANs.
Nwabueze was assigned this role by the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad.
A mother of four and doting grandmother of many, two of her daughters, followed in her footsteps. While Chinelo Odili is a judge of the Rivers State High Court, Njideka Iheme-Nwosu nee Odili, is a Judge of the High Court in the Federal Capital Territory.