The news of the passage of the former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mamman Nasir, penultimate Saturday, took many Nigerians by
surprise. The eminent jurist and one of the leading lights in the country’s judicial firmament gave up the ghost after a four-day illness at the Federal Medical Centre, Katsina, at the age of 90.
Born on July 2, 1929 in Katsina town, the Malumfashi native served as Northern Nigeria’s Minister of Justice from 1961 to 1966. From 1966 to
1967, he was in the private legal practice (Mamman Nasir & Co.). He was later appointed as Solicitor-General for the North Central State Government,
following the creation of states in 1968. The late jurist also served as AttorneyGeneral and Commissioner for Justice, North Central Government, from 1969 to 1975.
Earlier, he had served as the People Crown Counsel in 1956 and rose to the position of Senior Crown Counsel a year later. He was appointed to the
Supreme Court of Nigeria from 1975 to 1978 and became the President of the Federal Court of Appeal from 1978 to 1992. Upon retiring from the
service in 1992, he ascended the throne of the District Head of Malumfashi, besides holding the traditional title of Galadiman Katsina.
In retirement, Justice Nasir served as Chairman, Investigation of Assets of Northern Nigeria Marketing Board; Chairman, Boundary Adjustment
Commission; Chairman, Committee on Administration of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Deputy Chairman, Constitutional Conference;
and Chairman, Transition Implementation Committee. He was a member of Honourable Society of Lincolns Inn.
Tributes have been pouring in like a torrent from eminent Nigerians. President Muhammadu Buhari described the death of the former President
of the Court of Appeal as not only a loss to the judiciary, but also the country at large, owing to his remarkable commitment to public service.
He noted that the late Nasir belonged to a generation of Judges and Justices
who perceived public office as an opportunity to offer selfless service to the
country and its people.
According to him, Nasir and Judges of their golden age were more interested in leaving untainted record of integrity than accumulation of
wealth overnight. “When you look at Nasir’s modest lifestyle and his incredibly humble
possessions, you would be disarmed at once by his honesty and patriotism.
“While some Nigerians perceive public office as an opportunity to line their
pockets, men of Nasir’s character put a higher premium on honest labour
than on greedy accumulation of questionable wealth overnight,” Buhari said.
He explained that “gentlemen like Mamman Nasir succeeded in protecting their reputation because greed was far removed from their minds”, noting
that “contentment is the secret of a happy life of service to the people.”
In his condolence message, the Katsian state Governor, Alhaji Aminu
Masari, expressed sadness over the passage of the judicial icon, saying Nigeria
had lost one of its last standing illustrious sons.
Governor Masari described the late jurist as one of the leading consciences of the nation, who led an exemplary life defined by uncommon patriotism
in the tradition of his mentor, the late Premier of Northern Nigeria and
Sardaunan Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello.
He said, “The late traditional ruler and former jurist, whose professional career peaked as president of the Court of Appeal, was a rare gem, and his
death has created a wide leadership chasm that may take a long time to fill.
“His death is particularly devastating, coming at a time when our nation, buffeted by many challenges, especially insecurity, requires his wise counsel.”
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, in his
tribute, described the death of Justice Nasir as a monumental loss to the country.
Dogara described Nasir as a legal icon and a courageous jurist who served the country meritoriously and contributed immensely to the development of
the law and independence of the judiciary. The lawmaker said Nasir played major roles in stabilising Nigeria at various
times during periods of difficulty and uncertainty.
Also, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has described the late Justice
Nasir as an embodiment of hard work and selflessness who committed his
life to nation building.
In its condolence message to the family of the late jurist, signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mohammed Ibrahim, it said that Nigeria and
the North in particular have lost one of the finest elder statesmen, a bridgebuilder and a leader who lived a simple and humble life.
The last major public outing of the late jurist was at the Presidential Villa,
Abuja, two weeks before his death to advance the cause of his home state.
He had led the Board of Trustees and Advisory Council of Gidauniyar Jihar Katsina (Katsina State Development Fund) to meet President Muhammadu
Buhari, where he demonstrated rare humility by enlisting to stand up to formally introduce himself when members of the board were asked to do so.
Justice Nasir rose to his feet despite being asked by the President to remain
Blueprint joins millions of Nigerians in condoling with the Government and people of Katsina state. May Allah grant him Aljannah Firdaus, and his family the gratitude to bear the irreparable loss, Ameen.