‘Hardworking and dedicated’ – YC Maikyau, SAN salutes Hon. Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem
As the Women’s History Month comes to an end, I will like to take a little time to salute the ever hardworking and dedicated Honourable Justice Monica Bolna’an Dongban-Mensem, President of the Court of Appeal (PCA) and Life Member of the Body of Benchers.
Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, was born on 13th June 1957 to the family of M.B. Douglas-Mensem; a retired Justice of the Court of Appeal. My lord obtained her LL.B and LL.M Degrees from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria – Nigeria and was called to the Bar in 1980. My lord, got a Post-graduate Diploma from the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, Russel Square – London.
Justice Dongban-Mensem was appointed a Magistrate in Plateau State in 1981 and moved through the ranks of the various grades up to Chief Magistrate in 1990. From there, Hon. Justice Dongban-Mensem, moved on to serve as Deputy Chief Registrar, Superior Courts and Protocol Affairs of the High Court of Plateau State from 1990 until 1993. My lord was elevated to the bench of the High Court of Plateau State in 1993. In 1997, my lord moved to the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, where she served until 2003 when she was elevated to the Court of Appeal bench. On 6th March 2020, His Lordship was appointed as the Acting President of the Court of Appeal and was subsequently confirmed on 11th June, 2020 as the substantive President of the Court of Appeal.
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Hon. Jutice Dongban-Mensem has equally performed several ad-hoc duties: she was Secretary, Plateau State Law Report Committee; Secretary/Legal Adviser, Ad-Hoc Committee on Widowhood Practices in Plateau State and, Pioneer Board Member/Legal Adviser, Plateau State Commission for Women (1991 – 1992), amongst others. In addition to her work as a jurist, Justice Dongban-Mensem is an educator. She was 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. In 1991, she published a book titled ‘The Defendant’ – a book that is beneficial for the lawyer as well as the lay man. She is a strong and passionate advocate for qualitative education and to this end, she founded Pa William Mensem Education and Scholarship Foundation (PAWMESFO) in 2009, which, with her modest contribution, has built a school in Plateau State – Pa William Mensem Memorial School (christened Monica school), a school that has elicited so much enthusiasm from the people of the community and its neighbours – parents and children alike – because of the need it serves.
After the tragic and distressing death of her first son, Prince Samson Kwapda’as Dongban (his soul rests in Peace), His Lordship founded a road safety organization called Kwapda’as Road Safety Demand (KRSD), an organisation which has been described as the most efficient and popular road safety NGO in Nigeria. The KRSD holds periodic road safety seminars and trainings, and visits hospitals to give relief materials and pay hospital bills for indigent victims of auto-crashes.
Justice Dongban-Mensem loves to read, write and golf. She derives particular joy in working with women, children and the elderly and dreams of a world where women and children are free from discrimination – not viewed as second-class citizens. She has dedicated her life to the downtrodden of the society and serves as a beacon of hope to them. Her work of love in her community and beyond is an inspiration to all.
While “Loving” may not be a usual adjective for describing a jurist, with Hon. Justice Dongban-Mensem, it is the first thing that comes to mind for anyone who has the privilege of interacting closely with my lord; a compassionate and humane personality. A woman of no mean repute, who not only illuminates her surrounding with her beauty, but also unleashes her excellent spirit in accomplishing any task in her hands. The clarity and lucidity of my lord’s decisions expressed in the Judgments and Rulings of the Court, always make delightful reading for lawyers and non-lawyers alike. In MANSON V HALLIBURTON ENERGY SERVICES LTD (2007) 2 NWLR (PART 1018) 211 @ 245 my lord the PCA had cause to describe an incompetent in the following words “*An incompetent process remains without legal value no matter how long it takes. It is not like cooking a cow head which softens with time under the heat of fire. No.”*
I celebrate you today, My Lord, the Honourable, the President of the Court of Appeal, Nigeria, for what you represent to this generation womanhood, the profession of law and the Country at large.
Yakubu Chonoko (YC) Maikyau
Chairman, NBA Welfare Committee