Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, a former president of Nigeria, has warned the political establishment to let the court carry out its constitutional duties since society is dynamic.
In Yenagoa, the state capital, Dr. Jonathan offered the warning last week during the book presentation/reception that concluded a week of events honoring Justice Kate Abiri, the chief judge of Bayelsa State, who is retiring.
The former president commended Justice Abiri for the crucial role she played in avoiding a constitutional crisis by ordaining Nyesom Wike as governor of Rivers State. He also cautioned politicians against becoming enamored with their own positions of power.
Jonathan also urged legal professionals to uphold the law
which he noted was significant in the delivery of justice.
His words: “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.”
In his remarks, Bayelsa governor, Sen. 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), Sen. Douye Diri (2020) and Nyesom Wike (2015).
Governor Diri described Abiri as a legal icon who rendered unblemished and meritorious service in three decades of legal practice. He added that the state would still require her services due to her commitment and wealth of experience.
Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanikpekun (SAN), who chaired the occasion, described Abiri as an elegant, brilliant and hardworking jurist who represents the best in the legal profession.
Chief Olanikpekun also commended Gov Diri’s administration for supporting the judiciary, expressing the belief that in a few days a substantive Chief Judge would be appointed for the state judiciary.
Responding, Justice Abiri expressed appreciation to Gov. Diri for his support and encouragement to the judiciary owing to its financial autonomy, stressing “the state judiciary now executes quality projects without external supervision or stifling of funds”.
However, the three books unveiled include “Kate Abiri: Footprints on the Bench,” “Judges and Judging in Nigeria” and “Bayelsa State Law Reports: Volume One.”
Chief launcher and Chairman of De Wayles Group of Companies, High Chief Emonena Victor Wayles Egukawhore, JP, expressed his appreciation for the honour to launch the books. He commended the authors for their initiatives, expressing the confidence that the books would enrich knowledge and enhance understanding of their subjects and purpose.
He acknowledged the efforts that obviously went into bringing the books to fruition and wished them well in their future endeavours. He went on to donate the sum of $100,000 and N20 million for the books, while both the Rivers and Bayelsa State governments donated substantial amounts with a plethora of donations from individuals.
Dignitaries at the colourful event include wife of former president, Dame Patience Jonathan, Justice Chima Centus Nweze, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, (HRM) Justice Francis Tabai, JSC (rtd), Zamfara State Chief Judge, Justice Lulu Aliyu, Gov. Nyesom Wike and Gov. Godwin Obaseki (represented), other serving and retired Justices, legal icons/luminaries and a host of others.