Dahiru Musdapher

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Dahiru Musdapher
13th Chief Justice of Nigeria
In office
29 August 2011 – 16 July 2012
Preceded by Aloysius Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu
Succeeded by Aloma Mariam Mukhtar
Personal details
Born (1942-07-15) 15 July 1942 (age 74)
Babura Town, Barbura, Jigawa State, Nigeria
Spouse(s) Hajiya Fatimah Dahiru Musdapher (née Suleiman Galadima)

Dahiru Musdapher (born 15 July 1942) is a Nigerian jurist. In 2011, he was appointed the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. He served as Chief Judge of the Kano State Judiciary from 1979 to 1985, and as a member of the Court of Appeal from 1985 until 2003. He is the acting Chief Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Early life[edit]

He was born a member of the Bani Ya'muusa clan in Babura Town in Babura, a local government area in the north of Jigawa State.

The progenitor of the clan (his lordship's great-grandfather), Goni Ya'Musa, was a Fulani scholar, a renowned and respected Islamic jurist and teacher who migrated from the Kanem Bornu Empire in the mid-1800s and pursued a lifelong mission of teaching and Islamic missionary work. The great-grandfather settled in Babura Town, in Jigawa State.

Musdapher's father, Mallam Musdapher Musa – also a renowned Islamic scholar – served as a principal advisor to several District Heads across the Kano Native Authority during the colonial era, for decades before he was eventually enthroned as the District Head of Babura L.G.A. Mallam Musdaher's father was the first headmaster of the first primary school in Babura. He died in 1993 as the head of a large and respected family leaving behind over 300 children, grandchildren and great-grand children. My Lord Justice Musdapher is the head of this family.


Employment records[edit]

  • Private legal practice, 1968–1976
  • Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Kaduna State, 1976–1978
  • Judge High Court of Kano State, 1979
  • Chief Judge, Kano State Judiciary, 1979–1985
  • Justice, Court of Appeal, 1985–2003
  • Justice, Supreme Court of Nigeria, since 2003

Other employment[edit]

Attended many conferences both locally and internationally

National honours[edit]

  • Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON 2003
  • Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR 2008


The circumstance under which my lord was enrolled in school is quite interesting. Sometime in 1949 my lord was actually scheduled to travel east to (Sudan or Egypt) based on family traditions to further his Islamic education as was the practice in those days. However, an elderly aunt opined that he was too young to withstand the rigours of long distance travel and insisted that he be left at home until the following year. Due to Mallam Musdapher's position as a respected scholar and the 1st Headmaster of the locality's only elementary school, many of the children that attended the school who were not resident in Babura resided in Mallam Musdapher's House. So when the "older" children left for school, my lord would tag along, follow them to school and listen to the lessons from the branches of a tree that stood near the classrooms. Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim (Former Director General NTA & FRCN) who was the Headboy of the school at the time ".... to the amazement of the teachers, there was a young boy that kept answering questions asked in class from the branches of a tree and after a while on his recommendation (the head boy) he was invited in. So he did not actually enrol in the customary way.

He spent only two years in the elementary school before moving to the middle where the teachers were convinced that the young lad must have been memorising the dictionary as his vocabulary was clearly beyond the norm! He was a voracious reader that devoured everything that came his way.

True to family tradition, his exposure to western education did not deflect him from his Islamic education. Through the traditional system, he mastered a good portion of the Holy Qur'an and acquired intensive knowledge in Arabic Language and grammar; as well as the foundational principles of Islamic law. The knowledge garnered gave him invaluable insight when adjudicating on issues related to the Shari'ah and is generally regarded as an authority and reference point on the subject.

He speaks fluent Arabic.

While in Rumfa College he was consistently one of the best students in the school. He was classmates with several other distinguished Nigerians including Late General Sani Abacha GCON (Late Military Head of State of Nigeria 1993-1998), Late Alhaji Adamu Dankabo (Founder and Chairman of Nigeria's first Indigenous private commercial airline), Justice R.D. Mohammed and many others.

After concluding his secondary education, he secured a job at the Northern Regional Ministry of Finance in Kaduna as a clerical officer in 1963.

Shortly afterwards, he secured admission to study at the Institute of Administration, in Zaria (Which later became Ahmadu Bello University)

Some of his classmates were Justice Umaru Abdullahi CON, Justice Katsina Alu CJN, GCON amongst others that have since become giants in Nigerian and international legal circles.

He left for the United Kingdom to conclude his legal training in 1964.

He was called to the British bar in 1967 (Middle Temple).

He became quite famous as a regular outside contributor and discussant in the West African Service of the BBC as well as the Hausa service from 1964-67. Notably he was in the BBC studios as a discussant when the ugly events of January 1966 in which the Sardauna of Sokoto and Prime Minister Balewa were murdered in a bloody coup d'état.

On return to Nigeria he proceeded to the Law school where he was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1968.

Unlike most of his colleagues and seniors who opted for a career in public service from the onset, he chose to pursue a career in private legal practice together with the late Kaloma Ali in Kano. During those early years, he was one of the most notable and sought after legal practitioners throughout the northern region. He made appearances before all the High Courts of the Northern region.

Testament to his growing pedigree he was appointed Secretary to the Kano Emirate Council and Adviser to the Kano Native authority from 1968-1976. To date he maintains an excellent relationship with the Emir of Kano Alh. Ado Bayero.

During the council meetings my Lord's father Mallam Musdapher customarily accompanied the District Head whom he served under to the meetings at the Emirs palace in Kano. Due to the prevalent custom of the time, shoes were not allowed beyond certain points within the palace and as such it was customary for aides to hold the shoes of their superiors in their hands as a mark of respect. Despite his high office at the time, my Lord always made sure he picked up his father's shoes and held them in his hands. This mark of respect ensured that all the district heads conferred additional respect to Mallam Musdapher not only because of his own pedigree as a scholar but also due to his son's position within the council and the humility with which he carried on his duties.

His pedigree was further evidenced when he was chosen together with the Late Mallam Aminu Kano to represent the people of Kano at the burial of the late Egyptian Leader General Gamal Abdul-Nasser in September, 1970 at Egypt.

Public service came to him when he was approached to serve as Attorney General of the old Kaduna State, even though he was from Kano State. He accepted the appointment and served under three military administrators from 1976 to 1979 (Group Captain Usman Jibrin, Group Captain Mukhtar Mohammed and Commodore Ibrahim Alfa).

During the period he enjoyed the privilege of attending the joint meetings of the Supreme Military Council and Council of State as an advisor to the Government of Kaduna state.

In addition, he became a member of the Body of Benchers by virtue of his position and has remained a member of the body till date. He is one of the longest serving members of the body and has since been made a "Life Bencher". (Has been a member since 1976)

In 1979, he was appointed as a Judge of the High Court of Kano State by General Olusegun Obasanjo and later confirmed as the First indigenous Chief Judge of the State as he took over from Justice R. Jones (a British expatriate)

During his six-year tenure at the helm of the Kano State Judiciary, a new court complex was completed and still remains as the main court complex. Fittingly the building has since been named after him as a testament to his contributions to the Kano State Judiciary.

A few interesting fact about His Lordship.

  • a. A very quick reader. He can read vast amounts of text very quickly with unbelievable understanding.
  • b. He believes in routines and has perfected a simple routine that he has stuck to for over 35 years. Those who have been close to him over the years can tell exactly what he is doing at every point of the day.
  • c. My Lord never bothered to learn how to drive a motor car. Even though he got his first car since the late 1960s, he always has a driver at hand.
  • d. Though he comes from a very large family, he is the only child from his mother Hajiya Hadiza (Who is still alive and hearty). Interestingly, his wife is also an only child from her mother too.
  • e. Unlike most other men from his time he has only one wife and only three children.

In August 2011, Justice Musdapher was appointed the Acting Chief Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Hajiya Fatimah Dahiru Musdapher (née Suleiman Galadima) with three Children, Khadijah, Kaloma and Suleiman. He has 9 grandchildren with Nabil being the oldest and Dahiru Jr (Muhammad) the youngest.


  • Reading, Scrabble and crosswords
  • Travelled extensively throughout the world

See also[edit]