I made it a habit since childhood to assist people – Justice Dodo
Justice Isa Muhammadu Dodo was born in July 1944 in Katsina. He started his first three years of primary education at Gobarau Primary School and completed at Katsina Central Primary School between 1953 and 1960. He proceeded to middle school and spent three years before moving to Katsina Training College from 196165 where he bagged a Grade II certificate. Between 1966 and 69, Dodo enrolled at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) for Diploma in English Law and then an Advance Diploma in Islamic Law from the same institution in 1971. He did his LL.B Common and Islamic Law 1974-77, and a LL.M in 1983 at ABU. He was at the Nigeria Law School Lagos in 1981 and applied to do his PhD but there was no supervisor at that time to handle the topic “Doctrine of state necessity” which he had wanted to work on.
Dodo has been chairman of the Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI) since 2002 when he assumed that responsibility and had served in various capacities like Chairman of Inter Religious Committee, Chairman Sharia Commission. He is a National Award recipient of OON by the Federal Government in 2005.
He told Daily Trust in Katsina that “I started work after my Grade II from Katsina Teachers College and rose to become an Assistant Headmaster in 1966. After my second diploma in Islamic Law I was offered a job at ABU were I taught Northern Nigeria area courts. After two years there I became an inspector for area courts. I was given a job at the Court of Appeal were I spent eleven years. I came to Katsina as Khadi of Sharia Court of Appeal from 1990-2004. I became Grand Khadi 2004-2009 from where I retired.”
How has retirement?
Alhamdulillah, in this work of ours, if you know people and people know you, you don’t have a problem. After working for about 44 years, I have commenced with my own affairs; I have engaged myself in farming and building which everyone knows me with, aside reading and schooling.
You were recently nominated as one of the Unsung Heroes that Media Trust should honour. How does it feel to be nominated by people that may even be unknown to you?
Honestly, I heard it first from you while you were trying to
life been after contact me for a meeting. Well, I’m happy about it, giving the fact that people have seen what I have been doing and think I deserve this honor. All I can say is thank God for my life and what I was able to do and achieve. Those who made the nomination know better. I’m sure they must have told you people in Media Trust their reasons.
Can you tell us some of your most memorable times in your 44 years of service?
I’m very happy that every case that came to my court was treated with fairness. Having been at the Appeal Court, ours was mostly to address issues that people didn’t feel satisfied with. I usually select judges that are most credible and in most cases I make myself a member of the panel. I’m happy that we adjudicated in pursuance to our knowledge and with the fear of God. The times I feel very happy were times we handled cases about inheritance. In one instance, some people wanted to swindle others of a house in an inheritance case; many children were involved, and we divided all the items left behind, but in the case was a house that was earlier sold to one of the deceased’s wife and the other wife we realized had a lot of children and needed it most. We had to devise a mechanism where we sought a house for her and all went home happy. Another was about a lady who was denied her share of inheritance because she was old and they excluded her. We had to intervene. However, one of the most senior sons of the deceased proved very stubborn and wanted to take all the property. He played hard with the court. I had to imprison him. That was the only time that I sent someone to jail but after several pleas and his acceptance to return what wasn’t his to the rightful owner I released him and gave the woman what was hers. Those were some of the moments I was happy and can’t seem to forget.
How can you compare the judiciary then and now?
Under my supervision then, anybody who has no case cannot be a winner in a case but anyone with genuine reasons must be given justice. We have a lot of problems now; some people bribe judges and I didn’t tell you we don’t have credible ones, we have them but some are very corrupt, that is why I appeal to them to be God fearing because whatever they do they will meet the Almighty God someday. From the high courts to the Supreme court, we have credible judges, but there are some who are accepting money to sell the oath they made. So I appeal to people, particularly the judges, to fear God because anyone who comes before a judge expects to get justice and every judge ought to be fair and just. That is my plea.
You recently set up a foundation that is into humanitarian activities, how do you get funding?
My foundation is dear to me and my family. I use it in reaching out to the needy and the less privileged in our society. I use it to build schools, houses, mosques, and to help people. I made it a habit since childhood to assist people because I grew up seeing what my father was into, so I developed the act. My father used to help people a lot. On finances, well I get them from the little off my building, businesses, farming, rentals, which are my sources of livelihood. I felt I need to share from my modest income so I took it upon myself to reach out to the needy. We must help out as much as we can; helping the needy is the best thing for anyone to do particularly given the command of God for us to help the needy. Helping the needy draws one closer to God.
What do you want to be remembered for?
Firstly, I want to be remembered as a judge who dispensed justice without fear or favour. There was nobody that came to me seeking for justice that didn’t get it. Secondly, for all that I’m doing now through my foundation in reaching out to the needy, helping out day and night. These two are what I want to be remembered for and nothing more. Last words…… I call on Nigerians to fear God because the fear of God will make one not to cheat anybody. Nigeria is supposed to be more developed than what we have now because of our rich resources. We have people that are well educated, so we ought to be far developed. I hope with this change in government, the country will develop within the shortest possible time.