The Law Looks to the End of all Litigation [In Allonym- The End of Life]: A Tribute to Late Chidimma Mercy Uzonwanne, Esq.

Late Chidimma Mercy Uzonwanne, Esq. was humble, amiable and radiated respect and gentility

By Izu Aniagu, Esq

It was the Supreme Court Justice, Justice Amina Adamu Augie, who in the process of reading the Supreme Court judgment on applications filed for the review of its judgment which overturned the APC’s victory in Bayelsa State governorship election of 2019, that made the abiding statement: “THERE MUST BE AN END TO LITIGATION. 

The erudite Justice in the said judgement proclaimed as follows: 

“With tears in my eyes, it is regrettable that ‘very senior’ lawyers are responsible for filing these applications. The applications amount to an invitation for the apex court to sit in appeal on its own judgment in violation of the Constitution. It would amount to violating the finality of its judgment if the applications were granted. Granting the applications would open a floodgate for the review of decisions of the Supreme Court. There must be an end to litigation. The decision of the Supreme Court is final for ages in a matter and only legislation could change”

The above words of His Lordship, if you might know, are not mere technical jargons. Neither are they argots of judges and lawyers. In fact, they are solemn words. And when summarily conceptualized, they mean that a court must always dismiss an issue that has already been decided by it or another court, especially if not sitting on an appeal. In other words, the court must keep awake to the fact that issue must come to an end.

As it is with the law so it is with life. The life of every man must someday come to an end, but when it happens, especially to someone we know, we are left bereaved or devastated. Lemony Snicket in his book “Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid”, captures it better when he said in the following words:  

“We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know.”

The feeling shared in the last paragraph of Snicket’s words above is precisely how I felt on the 27th day of January 2021, when I woke to the sad news of the untimely death of my good friend, Miss Chidimma Mercy Uzonwanne. 

I met Chidimma Uzonwanne for the first time in 2017 in Gombe State where we were posted as youth corps members in the State’s Ministry of Justice. Most of us were new in the State and coming from the eastern part of Nigeria. As expected, we had a huge challenge understanding even the most basic Hausa language. But Chidimma came to the aid. It’s one thing to find a female lawyer, it’s a different thing to find one who’s pretty, brilliant, humble and a polyglot. Chidimma was already fluent in Hausa language. She became a reliable dependant on occasions I needed an interpreter for the language. 

She was also reliable friend. We carried out many legal tasks together. She was extremely brilliant, very enthusiastic, and genuinely spiritual. She was supposed to give me some language lessons but during her spare time, which was very little, she still chose to do God’s work in her church.

For her, it was God first and her profession second; other things come in the distance. And if one could summarize her life in retrospect by using a mantra, it will be “Dieu et mon droit”, meaning “God and my right”, which is the motto of the Monarch of the United Kingdom that appears on a scroll beneath the shield of the coat of arms of the United Kingdom. 

Chidinma was probably in her late twenties but her energy was that of a teenage girl. She kept up with every engagement she was involved in with equal passion and would never forget to keep in touch with her friends. She had been in touch with me not too long before she passed on. Of course, not even she could have envisaged her own sudden demise. We often spoke minutes before she goes into court on occasions when she had a legal issue she wanted me to have an opinion on. I would gently step outside if I was already inside the court to take her call. Later in the day she would cheerfully give me the gist of what happened in court, whether her tactics was a good or bad one. And we would encourage ourselves to remain focused and face the challenges in the legal profession.

Chidimma was very determined to succeed in a profession where many young people including men and women walk off from after some initial setbacks to pursue a more luscious path. She was a dedicated and active member of NBA Gwagwalada, where she was already succeeding before her painful demise. She was humble, amiable and radiated respect and gentility. She lived a life of a role model to younger women and her leadership quality and acumen was noticeable.  

I can’t believe that Chidimma Mercy Uzonwanne is no more. I can’t believe that death has snatched her from us and her family so early and all we can do is carry on without her. Death, indeed, is like a thief that cometh in the night. According to Snicket, “it is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.” 

Let’s go back to the start. Life, just like every litigation, must come to an end. When it comes, there is no “senior lawyer who can file any applications against the decision. The application will amount to an invitation for nature to sit in appeal on its own judgment in violation of Universal Order. It would amount to violating the finality of nature’s judgment if the applications were granted.

Again, death terminates the life of both villains and heroes, but in our case, it has ended the life of a heroine. It only ended a life though, a relationship still subsists. Chidimma leaves a beautiful memory that no one can steal. Her memory will always remain vivid and heartwarming. I will personally miss her because she was my favorite female lawyer. Hers will be my hardest goodbye.  

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