Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa
Governor Douye Diri has sworn in Justice Matilda Ayemieye as the fourth substantive Chief Judge of Bayelsa State after serving in an acting capacity for almost six months.
The swearing-in ceremony took place on Thursday at the Executive Council Chambers of Government House, Yenagoa, where the oaths of allegiance and office were administered by the state Chief Registrar, Amaebi Orukari.
Ayemieye was appointed Acting Chief Judge on January 16, 2023, following the retirement of her predecessor, Justice Kate Abiri.
Diri said her appointment was in accordance with established practice and in line with Section 271 Subsection 1 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Diri said: “It is my duty and privilege as governor to appoint the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State. This section states that the Chief Judge of a state shall be appointed by the governor of the state following the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC), subject to confirmation by the State House of Assembly.”
The Bayelsa governor noted that the event symbolised a significant milestone in his administration’s commitment to the rule of law and the effective administration of justice, stressing that it was the consolidation of the state’s judicial system that continues to promise fairness, impartiality and justice for all.
He charged the judiciary to remain independent, impartial, and free from any external influence as well as uphold the principles of justice and fairness.
He also urged judges not to be swayed by political or economic considerations, saying under her leadership, the judiciary is expected to rise above any challenges and continue to serve as a beacon of hope for the oppressed and marginalised in society.
Diri said: “We live in an era where technology can greatly enhance the delivery of justice. I encourage the Chief Judge to explore ways to deepen the strides we have made in this direction to improve access to justice for all our citizens,” he said.
Congratulating Ayemieye on her appointment, Diri observed that the new Chief Judge has demonstrated professional competence, integrity and a passion for justice.
“Your track record and commitment to upholding the principles of justice are well known, and I have no doubt that you will carry out your duties with utmost diligence and integrity.
“The judiciary is a vital component of any democratic society, and it plays a crucial role in upholding the rule of law. It is the cornerstone of our democracy, ensuring that every citizen is treated fairly and that justice is served to all.
“I reiterate my administration’s commitment to supporting the judiciary in carrying out its constitutional duties. We will provide the necessary resources and infrastructure to ensure the efficient and effective functioning of our judiciary.”
He expressed gratitude to members of the judiciary for their unwavering commitment to justice and equally applauded her predecessor, Justice Kate Abiri, for her long, exceptional and meritorious years of selfless service to the state.
The Chief Judge pledged to intensify efforts towards bringing justice closer to the people by relocating High Courts earlier moved to the state capitals back to their original locations across the state.
Dignitaries at the ceremony included the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Michael Ogbere, Judge of the National Industrial Court, Yenagoa Division, Justice Bashar Alkali, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Dame Didi Walson-Jack, members of the executive council and other top government functionaries.