Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has described the late former Chief Judge of the state, Justice Kate Abiri, as an incorruptible, courageous and fearless jurist, who championed the cause for uniform retirement age for judges in the country.
Governor Diri said her advocacy resulted in the law that unified the retirement age of state and federal judges at 70 years.
Unfortunately, he said the late Justice Abiri did not benefit from it as the President signed the bill into law after her retirement in January this year.
His Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as speaking during her funeral service on Saturday at Aleibiri community in Ekeremor Local Government Area of the state.
Senator Diri said her death was a huge loss to Bayelsa as it has created a vacuum that will be difficult to fill.
The governor stated that she will be remembered for her meritorious service to the state and Nigeria at large.
The state’s helmsman noted that the number of dignitaries at her funeral was a testament to the good life she lived.
“For us, her demise is painful but I hope we all take solace in her worthy legacies and which we must all sustain,” he said.
At the night of tributes held at the Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha Memorial Banquet Hall in Yenagoa on Thursday, Diri said the late CJ made impact nationally and that the Nigerian judiciary would always remember her courage and fearless attributes that stood her out among judges.
He said he was pleased to have known her as a very fine, soft-spoken, simple and amiable daughter of Bayelsa.
In her tribute, former First Lady of Nigeria and wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dame Patience Jonathan, narrated her early days in the state where she approached the late Abiri to mentor her as wife of the deputy governor, stating that it was one of her best decisions in life.
Dame Jonathan said the singular act of establishing friendship with Abiri gave birth to her pet project “A-Aruera Reach-out Foundation” which is still touching lives due to the team the former CJ introduced to her.
She described late Abiri as a prayer warrior, a close ally, unassuming and a careful listener whose advice can always be counted upon.
The immediate past governor of the state and Senator representing Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Chief Seriake Dickson, noted how proud he was whenever he heard testimonies of her good deeds from colleagues in the legal profession.
Sen. Dickson stated that the Bayelsa judiciary was stable under her, noting that the state will miss a quintessential Ijaw woman and a daughter of the Ijaw struggle.
Dignitaries that bid her farewell despite the heavy downpour included wife of the governor, Dr. Gloria Diri, wife of the deputy governor, Beatrice Ewhrudjakpo, a former deputy governor and Speaker of the State Assembly, Werinepre Seibarugu, and wife of the first civilian governor of the state, Margaret Alamieyeseigha.
Also present were the Senator representing Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, Dr. Konbowei Benson, Sagbama/Federal Constituency representative, Dr. Fred Agbedi, his Ogbia Federal Constituency counterpart, Chief Mitema Obordor as well as the Yenagoa-Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal Constituency representative, Oforji Oboku.
Others were the state Chief Judge, Justice Matilda Abrakasa, member representing Ekeremor Constituency 1 in the of Assembly, Tari Porri, Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Tolani Alausa, and retired Supreme Court jurist, Justice Francis Tabai.
Other legal luminaries were the Chief Judge of Borno State, Justice Kashim Zannah, his counterparts, Justice Akon Ikpeme (Cross River), Justice S. C. Amadi (Rivers State), and Justice Colington Uche (Abia State) among others.