Delta business man, Marine Oxygen, storms Bayelsa in grand style to honour Justice Abiri

Yenagoa—Delta-born oil mogul and philanthropist, High Chief Emonena Victor Wayles Egukawhore JP popularly called Marine Oxygen on Friday stormed Yenagoa in a grand style for a book launch, as the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Hon. Justice Kate Abiri, retires from active service.

At the occasion, former President Goodluck Jonathan advised the Nigerian political class to allow the judiciary to perform its constitutional functions, saying society is dynamic.

Jonathan made the call during the book presentation/reception that culminated week-long activities in honour of Justice Kate Abiri

He 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 also advised 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.

According to the former president, “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.”

Chief host, 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).

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

The state, he said, would still require her services due to her commitment and wealth of experience.

Also speaking, 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.

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.

In her response, Hon. 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 De Wayles Group of Companies, High Chief Emonena Victor Wayles Egukawhore, JP, expressed his appreciation for the honor to launch the books.

The business tycoon commended the authors for their initiatives, confident that the books will enrich knowledge and enhance understanding of their project.

While acknowledging the efforts put in to produce the books to fruition, he wished them well in their future endeavors

The Delta-born philanthropist went on to donate the sum of $100,000 and N20 million for the books.

The Rivers State and Bayelsa state governments also made very significant donations along with a plethora of donors that helped the launch to rake in millions of naira.

Notable 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).

Also in attendance 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, HRM King Alfred Diete-Spiff, chairman of the state traditional rulers council, HRM King Bubaraye Dakolo, and other royal fathers.

Nigerian legal icons and luminaries were present in their numbers, and included, 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.

At a special parade and valedictory court session in her honour earlier in the day, various speakers extolled her virtues and her contribution to the growth of the judiciary in Nigeria.

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

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

He promised 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.

He 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

In her response, 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 emphasized that the state judiciary now executes quality projects without external supervision or stifling of funds.

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