Category: State Banquet

Jonathan, Diri, Wike, Obaseki, Legal Titans Bid Retiring Bayelsa Chief Justice Farewell

Former Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has admonished the political class to allow the judiciary perform its constitutional functions, saying society is dynamic.

Dr. Jonathan gave the admonition on Friday during the book presentation/reception that culminated 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.

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, 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).

Governor Diri described Abiri as a legal icon, who rendered unblemished and meritorious service in three decades of legal practice.

He said the state would still require her services due to her commitment and wealth of experience.

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 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 and Chief Gesi Asamowei N5 million among other donations.

Dignitaries at the colourful event included wife of the former president, Dame Patience Jonathan, wife of the Bayelsa governor, Justice Patience Diri, wife of the first civilian governor of the state, Mrs Margaret Alamieyeseigha, Governor Nyesom Wike represented by the Rivers State Head of Service, Rufus Godwin, and the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki represented by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Oluwale Iyamu (SAN).

Others were the Bayelsa Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, his predecessor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John-Jonah (rtd), members of the National Assembly from the state led by Dr. Fred Agbedi (Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency), state lawmakers, first military administrator of old Rivers State and immediate past chairman of the state traditional rulers council, King Alfred DieteSpiff, chairman of the state traditional rulers council, King Bubaraye Dakolo, and other royal fathers.

Some of the legal icons in attendance were Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Chima Centus Nweze, retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Francis Tabai, Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, President, National industrial Court, Justice B. B Karnyip, the Chief Judges of Rivers, Edo, Cross River and Zamfara states as well as Justice Daniel Ayah. President, Bayelsa Customary Court of Appeal, and his counterparts in Rivers and Edo states.

Earlier, at a special parade and valedictory court session in her honour, different speakers extolled her virtues and her contribution to the growth of the judiciary in Nigeria.

Governor Diri said her retirement was the beginning of a fresh chapter for the renowned judge, who displayed exemplary character and attracted dignity to the Bench.

He noted that Abiri was soft-spoken and humble but also a personality that carried the full weight of the law, with a balanced approach to leadership.

He assured that his government will continue to respect the rule of law as well as partner the judiciary in delivering the dividends of democracy to all Bayelsans.

Speaking on behalf of the Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Chief Thompson Okpoko stated that Abiri served well in honour and character, having witnessed her emergence as the third substantive CJ of Bayelsa.

Chief Okpoko said lawyers in the state attest to the fact that she exhibited the true qualities required of a judge while presiding over cases as well as in the administration of justice.

Also, the Chief Judge of Zamfara State and Chairman, Body of Chief Judges, Justice Lulu Aliyu, stated that Abiri had great qualities in temperament, legal knowledge and its appreciation

Responding, Justice Abiri expressed appreciation particularly to Governor Diri for making her experience under his administration seamless, owing to the financial autonomy introduced as governor of the state.

She stressed that the state judiciary now executes quality projects without external supervision or stifling of funds.


Daniel Alabrah

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Jonathan Woos South Korea Investors To Bayelsa

Former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has said great opportunities abound in Bayelsa State for foreign investors.

The former Nigerian leader stated this at a state banquet  organised by the Bayelsa State government in honour of the South Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, Kim Young-Chae, on Friday night in Yenagoa.
Amb. Young-Chae was on a two-day visit to the state.

Describing Bayelsa as a fertile market for foreign direct investment, Dr. Jonathan said not many foreign investors have discovered the state’s economic potential. 

A statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the former president as urging the Korean envoy not to let slip the opportunity of harnessing the full potential of a virgin state like Bayelsa. 
Jonathan commended Governor Douye Diri and his team for the great job of attracting economic giants like South Korea, noted for its  technological advancement, to the state.

His words: “Most cases, when companies come into Nigeria, they feel that they cannot invest in young states like Bayelsa, my own state, with relatively low infrastructure development, and have to go elsewhere.
“But Bayelsa is where you have the fertile market and luckily some of your companies like Daewoo and others are here. So they know that Bayelsa is a virgin state.

“This is a state you should encourage Korean investors to come in. The government, the governor and his team are very ready to work with investors.

“It is a great opportunity because when I heard that the Korean Ambassador was around, I said I would come to join the governor to convey this message to you and other investors. I know that when they do they won’t regret it.” 
In his remarks, Governor Douye Diri said South Korea, which is a world power in technology and among the 10 largest economies in the world, is the right destination to partner with Bayelsa and make the state achieve its full economic potential. 

Senator Diri emphasised that his government was fully committed to moving the state in the direction of economic and technological development.
He said this was the reason for the symbiotic relationship between both parties.

The state’s helmsman expressed delight in the feedback from the Korean ambassador, who he said promised and made encouraging remarks during his oversight trip to various investment destinations in the state.
The governor urged businessmen in the state to take advantage of the relationship established with the Republic of South Korea. 

“You have said so much about South Korea and even our former president alluded that your country was once very poor. But today, South Korea is among the ten largest economies in the world. Today your country is an economic giant and a technological power.
“We believe that every development will start from somewhere. We are prepared to leap Bayelsa state in the direction of economic and technological development. That was why we visited you and you have reciprocated by also visiting us.

“During our oversighting visit to some of the projects, you made very encouraging remarks. Today you have capped it in what you have said here. We believe that our businessmen in Bayelsa would take advantage of this relationship with the Republic of South Korea.

“We believe that for those from Bayelsa that have been yearning for businesses, this is a golden opportunity and let us not let it to slip by,” Diri said.

While enumerating the business opportunities in agriculture, aquaculture, the deep seaport project as well as in oil and gas, the governor stressed that the state was eager to tap into the technical know-how of South Korea.
Diri thanked the ambassador, his wife and senior embassy officials for finding the state worthy of partnership, which, according to him, underscored the seriousness they attached to the visit. 

The governor also commended Dr Jonathan, who despite his tight schedule, decided to lend his voice with his government to promote the investment opportunities in the state.
Speaking earlier, the South Korea Ambassador, Kim Young-Chae, who extolled the exceptional leadership of Governor Diri, assured that his government was looking forward to enhancing the cooperation between it and Bayelsa.

Young-Chae noted that Bayelsa had one of the largest oil and gas reserves in Nigeria, which makes it a land for great economic opportunities and an investment haven. 

The envoy, who also identified some tourist sites, pointed out that his government takes Nigeria seriously since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1980 and is the only country that operates five government agencies in the country.

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