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Former Minister Faces Ban for Disrespecting Court

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Former Nigerian Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Pauline Tallen, has been given 30 days to apologize to the judiciary for describing a court judgment as a “kangaroo judgment”. If she fails to do so, she could be barred from holding any public office in Nigeria again.

 

The Federal Capital Territory High Court made the ruling on Monday in a suit filed by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) against Tallen. The NBA accused her of contempt of court and undermining the rule of law.

 

The case stemmed from a verdict by the Federal High Court in Yola on October 14, 2022, which nullified the candidature of Aishatu Dahiru, alias Binani, as the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Adamawa State. The suit against Binani was filed by Nuhu Ribadu, the current National Security Adviser.

 

Tallen, who is a supporter of Binani, criticized the court’s decision during the Annual General Meeting of her alma mater, Federal Government Girls’ College, Bida on October 16, 2022. She called it a “kangaroo judgment” and urged her followers to disregard it.

 

The NBA, however, took offense at her remarks and dragged her to court for disrespecting the judiciary and inciting the public to disobey the law. The NBA argued that Tallen’s statement was unconstitutional, careless, reckless, disparaging, and contemptuous of the Federal High Court of Nigeria.

 

The High Court agreed with the NBA and declared that Tallen’s statement was indeed contemptuous and unacceptable. The court also granted an injunction restraining Tallen from holding any public office in Nigeria, unless she purges herself of the ignoble conduct by publishing a personally signed apology letter to Nigerians and the judiciary on a full page of The PUNCH newspapers.

 

The court ordered that the injunction restraining Tallen from holding any public office in Nigeria shall become perpetual if she fails to abide by the order directing her to publish an apology letter within 30 days.

 

The court’s ruling has been hailed by some legal experts and civil society groups as a victory for the rule of law and judicial independence in Nigeria. They said that Tallen’s statement was an affront to the integrity and authority of the court and a threat to the democratic process.

 

They also urged other public officials and politicians to respect the court’s decisions and refrain from making inflammatory and derogatory comments that could undermine the peace and stability of the country.

 

Tallen, however, has not yet reacted to the court’s ruling. She has the option of appealing the judgment or complying with the order. It is not clear what impact the ruling will have on her political career and aspirations.

 

Tallen, who is a former deputy governor of Plateau State, was appointed as the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019. She resigned from the cabinet in 2021 to contest for the governorship of Plateau State under the APC platform. She lost the primary election to the incumbent governor, Simon Lalong.

 

Tallen is also a prominent advocate for women’s rights and empowerment in Nigeria. She has championed several initiatives and policies to promote gender equality, education, health, and economic opportunities for women and girls.

 

Despite the court’s ruling, many of her supporters and admirers still regard her as a role model and a leader. They hope that she will overcome this legal setback and continue to contribute to the development and progress of Nigeria.

 

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