Ex Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan, has warned the political class to allow the judiciary perform its constitutional functions, saying society is dynamic.
Jonathan made this known during the book presentation/reception that climaxed the week-long activities marking the retirement of the Bayelsa State Chief Judge, Justice Kate Abiri, Friday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Jonathan acknowledged the critical role Justice Abiri played when she swore in the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, thus averting a constitutional crisis and advised politicians not to be blinded by the power they wield.
He also cautioned judicial officers to strive to be impartial and courageous in upholding the rule of law, which he noted was significant in the delivery of justice.
“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,” he said.
In his remarks, the Bayelsa governor, Senator Douye Diri, hailed Justice Abiri for her outstanding achievements, noting that during her 15-year term as Chief Judge, she swore in three governors in Bayelsa and one in Rivers.
They are Chief Timipre Sylva (2008), Senator Seriake Dickson (2012), Senator Douye Diri (2020) and Nyesom Wike (2015).
Diri described Abiri as a legal icon, who rendered unblemished and meritorious service in three decades of legal practice adding that the state would still require her services due to her commitment and wealth of experience.
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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.
Responding, Justice Kate Abiri 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 Chairman of the De Wayles Group, High Chief Emonena Wayles Egukawhore, donated the sum of $100,000 and N20m for the books while the Rivers State government donated N200m, the Bayelsa government gave N250m and Chief Gesi Asamowei N5m among other donations.