Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem was sworn-in as the President of the Court of Appeal on June 19, 2020, by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, following her confirmation by the Senate on June 11, 2020. She replaced Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, who retired from that position on March 5, 2020.
Although her confirmation was delayed despite the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC), it is still good that she has finally been sworn-in as the President of the Court of Appeal. Nigerians expect her to discharge her duties with utmost patriotism and due diligence. She must ensure that cases before the Court of Appeal are adjudicated without fear or favour.
We urge her to improve on the achievements of her predecessor. There is no doubt that Justice Dongban-Mensem is eminently qualified for the job. She was born on June 13, 1957, to the family of M.B. Douglas-Mensem, a retired Appeal Court Justice. She hails from Shendam Local Government Area of Plateau State. She got her LL.B and LL.M degrees from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. She was a Visiting Lecturer on Press Law at the Catholic Media Centre, Kaduna from 1988-1992 and Part-time Lecturer at the University of Jos, between 1989 and 1997.
From 1990-1993, Justice Dongban-Mensem served as Deputy Chief Registrar, Superior Courts and Protocol Affairs, and was appointed Judge, High Court of Justice, Plateau Judiciary from 1993-1996. She transferred her service to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Judiciary in 1997, where she served until she was elevated to the Court of Appeal in 2003.
Until her recent elevation, Justice Dongban-Mensem was the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, and Life Member of Body of Benchers. The new President of the Court of Appeal is an authority in criminal and civil procedure law, taxation and international public finance, public international law, legislative drafting, constitutional and administrative law and international commercial transactions.
As at December 2019, she had presided over 150 lead and 100 contributory judgements, respectively.
She has led notable jurists to decide high profile cases. These cover electoral, commercial, civil and criminal matters on appeal from the lower courts and court marshal decisions. She has also written many books.
Dongban-Mensem’s impressive blend of intellectual and professional experience makes her the right person for the job. Her appointment is coming at a time when there is need for urgent computerisation of the courts and a reform of the country’s criminal justice system.
It is commendable that she has expressed her passion for the positive transformation of the judiciary, particularly her vision to make the Court of Appeal IT-compliant. Her compassion for fellow human beings and dedication to duties are some of the qualities needed to move the judiciary forward.
With elections coming up soon in some states, some cases emanating from the polls will get to the Court of Appeal. Nigerians will look up to her and her colleagues in the appellate court for expeditious disposal of matters before them. We urge her to do her best to ensure equity and quick dispensation of justice. It behooves on her to ensure that everyone is equal before the law and none is accorded preferential treatment.
The Court of Appeal under Justice Dongban-Mensem should avoid actions that will portray the judiciary in bad light. It is good that she came to the office without blemish. The expectations are that she will live above board.
We urge Justice Dongban-Mensem to use her new position to push for the reform of the country’s criminal justice system, particularly the decongestion of correctional centres and quick dispensation of awaiting trial cases. Now that she has been sworn in as the Justice of the Court of Appeal, we enjoin her to ensure the urgent computerisation of the judicial system. This is the time to walk the talk. Having come to office on a blaze of goodwill and mounting expectations, she must not disappoint her teeming admirers. We congratulate her on the deserving appointment and wish her a successful tenure.