ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri has assured both serving and retired judges of the state judiciary of his administration’s commitment to their welfare.
Diri gave the assurance on Friday at a special valedictory court session held in honour of Justice Lucky Boufini at the Chief Judge’s Court, Ovom in Yenagoa.
Represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Governor said government had already taken the initiative to build befitting residences for top judicial officers at a more secure and suitable location within the Yenagoa metropolis.
He eulogised Justice Boufini as an erudite and incorruptible judge who meritoriously served the judiciary in old Rivers and Bayelsa states in various capacities.
Diri said the retired Judge creditably discharged his responsibilities as a Magistrate, Chief Registrar and bowed out as a High Court Judge in the state.
He, however, lamented that the exit of Justice Boufini from service on account of retirement had created a huge vacuum, which he noted, would be difficult to fill in the short term.
Responding to a demand for more judges to be appointed in the state to strengthen the bench, he clarified that the appointment of judges was not the exclusive preserve of the state government because it is subject to approval by the National Judicial Council.
Diri, who assured members of the Bench and the Bar that government would look into issues bordering on office accommodation and welfare package for retired judicial officers, wished Justice Boufini happy retirement, sound health and divine protection.
He said: “As a matter of fact, the place you saw and described as the Judges Quarters was initially considered but clearly that place will no longer be used for that purpose.
“We have agreed on what to do for our respected judges after consultations with My Lord, the Honourable Chief Judge; so we are working on that.
“I can assure you that the prosperity government is conscious of the welfare of Judges while serving and even upon retirement; because there is no need protecting a man while he is serving and then expose him to untold hardship upon retirement.
“I agree with you on the improvement of the retirement benefits of our judges. We are looking at the issues holistically with regards to the office spaces and we have agreed to work on the office issues and handle them.”
Earlier in her remarks, the state Chief Judge, Justice Kate Abiri, said the special court session was organized as part of activities to honour Justice Boufini’s 37 fruitful years of service.
Abiri remarked that Boufini, who served as the first Chief Registrar of Bayelsa, laid the solid foundation upon which the state’s judiciary was built, and called on the government to provide better welfare packages for retiring judges.
In his address, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Biriyai Dambo (SAN), described the just-retired Justice Lucky Boufini as a wonderful and industrious judge who distinguished himself on the bench.
Dambo, who spoke through a director in the Department of Public Prosecutions of the state judiciary, Mr. Alaowei Opokuma, said the retirement was glorious as it coincided with his birthday on June 12.