From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa


Former Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has cautioned politicians against judicial blackmail stating that the judiciary should be allowed to perform its constitutional functions.

He also admonished judicial officers to be firm and fearless in upholding the rule of law, noting that it was critical in the delivery of justice.


Dr. Jonathan spoke over the weekend at a book presentation as part of activities to bid farewell to Bayelsa State Chief Judge, Justice Kate Abiri who was bowing out as Chief Judge.

While recalling the role Justice Abiri played to inaugurate Governor Nyesom Wike as Governor of Rivers State in 2015 and avert a constitutional crisis in the state, implored politicians not to be blinded by power.

He said, “I advise politicians that while in office, let us not try to blackmail the judiciary because it is conservative. When we get political power, we get so blinded. Politicians should know that society is changing.


“Today, we are celebrating our retiring Chief Judge because she has served meritoriously. In 2015, she left Bayelsa for Rivers to perform the swearing-in of the governor thereby averting anarchy. It appears that the judicial arm is more functional than the executive.”

Governor Douye Diri in his remarks as the host governor commended Justice Abiri for her outstanding achievements as Chief Jude of Bayelsa State for 15 years during which she swore in three governors in Bayelsa and one in Rivers State.

The governors are, Chief Timipre Sylva (2008), Senator Seriake Dickson (2012), Senator Douye Diri (2020) and Nyesom Wike (2015).

She also swore in two acting governors in Bayelsa State, they are Rt Hon Werinipre Seibarugu( 2008) and Rt Hon Nestor Binabo( 2012).

Diri, who described Abiri as a legal icon for her unblemished and meritorious service in three decades of legal practice, added that the state would still require her services due to her commitment and wealth of experience.

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The Chairman of the occasion and chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanikpekun (SAN), lauded Abiri as an elegant, brilliant and hardworking jurist, who represents the very best in the legal profession.


Chief Olanikpekun also commended the Diri administration for supporting the judiciary, expressing belief that in a few days a substantive CJ would be appointed for the state judiciary.


Abiri in her remarks expressed appreciation to the Bayelsa governor for his support and encouragement.


Three books were unveiled at the event, which include “Kate Abiri: Footprints on the Bench,” “Judges and Judging in Nigeria” and “Bayelsa State Law Reports: Volume One.”


The chief launcher and president of the De Wayles Group, High Chief Emonena Wayles Egukawhore, donated the sum of $100,000 and N20 million for the books while the Rivers State government donated N200 million, the Bayelsa government gave N250 million while Chief Gesi Asamowei donated N5 million among other donations.