As early as 7.00 am, Friday, July 31, 2015, Court 5 of the Federal High Court located at Maitama, district, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja was filled to its seating capacity.
Outside the Court Room within the court premise, many groups of Cross River State extraction including the Northern Cross River Forum, Cross River State Forum, Paradise Women Association and the National Association of Cross River State Students (NACRISS), University of Abuja Chapter, all colourfully dressed waited and chanted in solidarity for their brother, governor and leader, Senator Professor Benedict Benyaushuye Ayade.
The last day in the month of July, 2015 was fixed for the ruling of a suit filed by Mr. Joe Agi (SAN) against Governor Ayade bordering on pre-election matters.
The mammoth crowd waited patiently, hopefully and happily from 7.00am through to 9.00am when the ruling was expected to commence, then to 12 noon when the presiding judge, Justice Abdul Kafarati delivered the landmark judgment which lasted for nearly an hour.
Immediately the judgment was delivered by the respected Justice Kafarati, the overwhelming crowd who gathered in and outside the court compound went into ecstasy and celebration of sweet victory with many shedding tears of joy that God has granted victory not just to Governor Ayade but the entire people of Cross River State because the historic judgment was a victory for the entire people of the state and the mandate they gave to Ayade to lead them.
Justice Kafarati’s judgment threw away Joe Agi’s suit for lacking in merit and went ahead to state that the other issue raised by Agi need to be proved beyond reasonable doubt and that it was not within the powers of the court to do that but the authorities vested with such duties and responsibilities.
Displaying the largeness of his heart immediately after the judgment, Governor Ben Ayade extended an olive branch/ hand of fellowship to Joe Agi (SAN), to join hands with him to collectively move the state forward as what happened was democracy in action;
Though he referred to the ruling as a victory for every Cross Riverian including Joe Agi, Ayade still described the judgment as “no victor and no vanquished” adding that “As far as the ruling of the Federal High Court is concerned, there is no victor and no vanquished. It was purely democracy in action and it is all part of the process to deepen our democracy”.
The amiable governor reasoned that it was God and the people who are the actual winner; hence the victory is that of the almighty God. He stated, “The winner in all this is the people of Cross River State and God who gives wisdom and understanding to rule over people. It is for this reason that I am dedicating the victory to God and to the people. It is a victory made possible by God for the people of Cross River state”.
Ayade passionately appealed to all Cross Riverians to join him in building the state. “Iam appealing to every Cross Riverian, including my brother Joe Agi (SAN) to join hands with me so that together we can collectively move our state forward. It is not a job for one man alone; we need one another if we are to develop as a state”.
Careful employment of words such as “No victor and no vanquished”, “Process to deepen our democracy” “the winner…are the people of Cross River and God who gives wisdom and understanding to rule over people”, “…victory made possible by God for the people of Cross river State”,
“I am appealing to every Cross Riverian, including Joe Agi (SAN) to join hands with me…”, “…we need one another if we are to develop as a state”, lucidly depicted the inner qualities of Ayade and that he is a man who has the development of the state and its people very close to his heart, that he is a man of peace, perseverance, forgiving and most importantly, humble and devoid of a domineering spirit.
Justice Kafarati’s judgment only put seal to the very prayers of millions of Cross Riverians, especially civil/public servants who had petitioned God that He should not allow anything that will derail the developmental blueprint and agenda already set in motion by the Ayade led administration in the state, including the progressive policy of paying state workers their salary between 24-26 of every month.
The judgment further demonstrated that indeed the old saying that the voice of the people is the voice of God remains eternally true, and that in as much as any decision will not in any way serve the overall interests of the generality of the common people, but an ego of a few, God will prove that in all generations He remains a God of the oppressed.
The mere thought of reversing the hand of the clock of our very purposeful development direction clearly magnified in the very laudable programmes and projects started and others in the drawing board by Senator Professor Benedict Ayade’s led administration, should propel every Cross Riverian with the fire of patriotism and love for the state burning brightly in his/her soul not to allow his/her feet to stray into a wrong path of politics of do or die affairs.
Neither should we allow the truth of the reality that Cross River State is in dearth need of development, employment opportunities and total empowerment which the Ayade leadership is on the right track to deliver, to be enveloped by things that do not build cohesion.
Rather, we should collectively work hand in hand with Ayade to take the state to its destined position among the comity of states in Nigeria and the continent.
It is my strong opinion that those fanning the embers of war between the two brothers should take their mischievous trade elsewhere and allow peace to reign in Cross River State.
Rather than kindling a ravaging fire and chanting a war song, for one of the respected SAN from Cross River, Joe Agi to continue his fight beyond the verdict passed down by the Federal High Court, Abuja, they should allow him to fully appreciate and embrace the “no victor and no vanquished” position of his brother, Governor Ayade in this matter.
Agi should equally appreciate the fact that Ayade never took the verdict of the Federal High Court as meaning that he has conquered Agi, because he knows that he will not be pleasing God and the people if he tows that path, a path which a proud leader would have done, hence the need for Agi to mend fence with the governor.
When two elephants fight, it is certainly the grasses that usually suffer, but when the two elephants choose to mend fence, the grasses flourish, at the same time the elephants themselves avoid bruises that would have resulted from the fracas.
The ruling of Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday, July 31, 2015 is certainly the triumph of the people’s mandate; the mandate of the people as expressed in the April 11, 2015 gubernatorial elections of which Ayade recorded a resounding victory.
Solomon Asha, is the Special Assistant to Governor Ayade on Media and Publicity.