Jurist that cares, By Abdul-Azeez Suleiman

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Universal History, the history of what man has accomplished in this world, is at bottom, the history of the great men who have worked here. They were the leaders of men, the modellers, patterns, and in a wide sense creators, of whatsoever the general mass of men contrived to do or to attain.As seems to be happening less often these days, highly influential and unique individuals who, due to their natural attributes continue to strive to serve humanity, still make a decisive historical impact.

One lively member of the present day elite, enjoying the jets and steam, would be none other than the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory , Ishaq Usman Bello, who with equal measures of charm, optimism, and insightful reasoning, stands out as a dedicated adjudicator and motivator.

Justice Bello’s  calm, everyday manner through humble beginnings and eventual rise to the top of the legal profession, speak of an all-too-rare humility and self-sacrifice that make his accomplishments as a lawyer and as a member of the Nigerian bench exemplary. I.U. Bello’s resume of public life reads like a well-crafted novel about a man of ample humility going on to enjoy great success.

After attending law school in 1983 where he was at the top of his class, he served as magistrate in Kaduna State between 1985 and 1995, During the course of his legal career, he sought and received an appointment to the Supreme Court of Nigeria as Deputy Chief Registrar between 1995 and 1996. 

Wanting to do more, he moved on to become a Judge in the High Court of the Federal Capital where he handled some of the country’s more publicized cases. He so distinguished himself on the bench that in 2015, when an opening became available for the Chief Justice of the FCT High Court, the Federal Government elevated him.

Quiet, calm, friendly and down to earth, he always requires that all those with whom he and his staff come into contact be treated with respect and dignity. These virtues, appreciated by his colleagues, the lawyers who appear before him and even those who stand before him in litigation, make him a role model for  young lawyers striving to find their place in today’s world of multiculturalism.

Thus lawyers who care about justice and watch the courts, readily find in Justice Bello’s  life, cases or movements that resonate with them and motivate them in different ways.Similarly, law firm leaders reading of his ability to combine public service with human resource management are likely to reflect on whether focusing on profitability and billable hours at the expense of public participation, family, and the world beyond the desk — have been worth the sacrifice.

Yet, because of his humility, what is less known about Justice Bello is his personal story, and it is this lesser-known but equally accomplished part of his life that we share here. Though his cases often thrust him into the media spotlight, they are not what made him a distinguished man. Rather, it is Justice Bello’s life as an involved community leader and his role as motivator that earn attention and respect for him.

His embrace of community services and philanthropy that has not been compromised by his judicial duties is why he is recognized by all as a man of honour and decency. The life and character of I. U. Bello are thus stamped upon the face of his community in Zaria.

With a zeal that knows no abatement and and energy that defies all difficulties, he has raised his own fortunes with those of the community. Everywhere in Zaria and at every point, the people behold the monuments of his public spirit, his enlarged philanthropy and his warm hearted piety.

Several community health and educational institutions claim him as their founder or their liberal supporter; if they sprang up not from his own suggestions, they are almost always literally sustained by his active support. To the moral and intellectual improvement of every community in Zaria, I. U. Bello devotes the energies of his enlightened and philanthropic mind. Every effort by the community for the amelioration of their condition, the advancement of their interest, and the elevation of their standard finds favour in Bello’s sight and assistance from his hands.

With open-handed liberality, he relieves the wants of the indigent and the needy, seeks out the poor among the youths and provide for their instruction and sustenance and encourages and rewards the industrious. In his private relation therefore, Justice Bello is a model worthy of all imitation.

Rigidly just, he knows no compromise between right and wrong. And while his example is a constant rebuke to vice and immorality, it incites and cherishes all manifestations of virtue. Frank, sincere, honest and noble, Bello generally illustrates a life of integrity and honour, justifying the sentiment that “the noblest work of God is an honest man.”

Suleiman, a journalist, writes from Abuja.

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