Bayelsa State Judiciary
The Bayelsa State Judiciary came into being as a result of the State’s creation exercise of the year 1996.
Then the Bayelsa State Judiciary began, there were only six (6) High Court Judges. Hon. Justice K.D. Ungbuku was appointed the Chief Judge while L.M. Boufini (now Hon. Justice L.M. Boufini) was the Chief Registrar.
There were also eight (8) Magistrates of various grades and about thirty-four(34) members of staff of different grades and cadres as supporting staff. An interesting fact about the Bayelsa State Judiciary is that both Hon. Justice K.D. Ungbuku and L.M. Boufini Esq. were serving as the Honourable Chief Judge and Chief Registrar respectively in the old Rivers State before their services were transfered to Bayelsa State following the creation.
The High Court Judges whose services were transferred from Old Rivers State Judiciary to the Bayelsa State Judiciary were:
1. Hon. Justice K.D. Ungbuku
2. Hon. Justice F.F. Tabai
3. Hon. Justice K.S. Sagbe
4. Hon. Justice F.K.C. Peters-Amian
5. Hon. Justice S.S. Alagoa
6. Hon. Justice E.J. Igoniwari
THE PAST CHIEF JUDGES
1. Hon. Justice K.D. Ungbuku – October 1996 – May 27th 2003
2. Hon. Justice E.J. Igoniwari – May 27th 2003 – May 4th 2007.
3. Hon. Justice Kate Abiri – March 20th 2008 – date.
With a total of about three hundred and fourty-one (341) members of staff comprising legal and non legal officers, the Bayelsa State Judiciary is fully set out in the dispensation of Justice in a fair and timely manner devoid of fear or favour to the citizenry. The number of staff, however, was quite inadequate especially in the administrative section where the Chief Judge had to engage contract officers to provide the needed leverage.
Other departments, however, were not short in supply of capable hands to man the various sections of the Judiciary.
The Bayelsa State Judiciary had, at its inception; three (3) Judicial Divisions which were Brass, Sagbama and Yenagoa Judicial Divisions as well as five (5) Magisterial District inherited from the Old Rivers State Judiciary. The Customary courts were situated at Akassa, Brass, Ekowe, Kaiama, Sagbama, Ekeremor, Oloibiri and Onopa.
The Bayelsa State Judiciary showed flashes of greatness when within three (3) years of its creation, it appointed two (2) female Magistrates who were in the Old Rivers State and the Chief Registrar as High Court Judges. These appointment came as a result of the versatility of the individuals in question and the vacuum created by the elevation of a Justice to the Court of Appeal and the retirement of another.
As at this moment in her history, the Bayelsa State Judiciary has appointed fourteen other High Court Judges.