Former Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has admonished the political class to allow the judiciary perform its constitutional roles.
This is as Governors Douye Diri, Nyesom Wike and Godwin Obaseki of Bayelsa, Rivers and Edo states bid retiring Justice Kate Abiri a farewell.
Dr. Jonathan, who averred that society is dynamic, gave the admonition during the book presentation/reception that culminated in a week-long activities marking the retirement of the Bayelsa State Chief Judge, Justice Kate Abiri, in Yenagoa, the state capital.
The former president 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.
Jonathan equally 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 noted.
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.”