The Authority Icon: MARY UKAEGO ODILI
For her notable humility, exemplary humanity and using her knowledge of jurisprudence to touch and lift society on different fronts; for her game-changing, award-winning interventions that have made a difference in the lives of many and for her sterling service to state, region and country, Hon. Justice (Mrs.) Mary Ukaego Odili, Justice of the Supreme Court, is The AUTHORITY Icon.
She seamlessly keyed into the philosophy of another former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Easily defined by her fetching humility, innate elegance, penetrative intellect, she has over the years shown uncommon concern and taken direct action on women and children’s issues. Meet Hon. Justice (Mrs.) Mary U. Odili (nee Nzenwa), Justice of the Supreme Court.
She was born on May 12, 1952 and had her primary education from 1958 to 1964. From 1965-1971 she had her secondary education and passed out with Grade I (aggregate 6) in the West African School Certificate examination. Looking ahead, young Mary gained admission into the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, where she studied law between 1972 and 1976.
She was rated the best student of the department of Commercial and Property Law in 1976. She passed through the Nigerian Law School between1976-1977 and was called to the Bar in July 1977. Thereafter, she served in Abeokuta and Benin. After her Youth Service, she started her career in the judiciary as a Magistrate Grade III in November 1978. She rose through the ranks to the position of a Chief Magistrate Grade I. In 1980 and 1981, she served as Chairman of the Juvenile Court. After these years of commendable service, Hon. Justice Mary Odili was appointed a Judge of the High Court, Rivers State, 1992.
In spite of being First Lady of Rivers State (from 1999-2007) Justice Mary Odili continued to perform her duties as a High Court Judge meritoriously and in 2004 she was elevated to the appellate bench as a Justice of the Court of Appeal on the 22nd of October 2004. She served as a judge in the Court of Appeal first in Abuja and was later on transferred to Kaduna as the presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Kaduna.
As a crowning point in her judicial services, she was sworn in as Justice of the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 23rd of June, 201I. Besides her professional calling, she has occupied various positions some of which include: President, Marine Board of Inquiry into the 1979 Buguma Boat disaster (1985); Chairman, Constitution Drafting Committee of the University of Nigeria Alumni Associates, which produced the present constitution of the national body; Inaugural Chairperson of the International Federal of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Rivers State branch from (1986-1988); Secretary, Nigerian Horticultural Society (1986-1990); Treasurer, Magistrates Association of Nigeria, Port Harcourt from (1986-1992) and more.
She has been a vanguard for women and children over the years through her involvement in the National Council of Women’s Societies, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and special support of Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria and several other NGOs.
As the First Lady of Rivers State, the adolescents’ world became her priority as she wasted no time in inaugurating the planning committee of her pet project. The Adolescent Project (TAP) Nigeria with the vision of giving back lost hope to the down trodden adolescent. TAP Nigeria evolved into a fully registered NGO.
She is happily married to the love of her life, former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili. The union is blessed with four lovely children.