|Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State (Left) and Barrister Joseph Agi (Right)|
The Supreme Court, sitting in Abuja on the 27th September, 2016 heard the matter between Joe Agi (SAN) vs Sen. Ben Ayade. The Apex Court adopted all the briefs and motions filed by all the parties. The Peoples’ Democratic Party, through its lawyer, Mr. N. Ibegbulam, told the Apex Court headed by Justice Bode Rhodes Vivour that it was in support of an appeal by Mr. Joe Agi, SAN, against Ayade. He went further to apologize to the Apex Court for fielding a candidate who gave a wrong information to the party.
Ibegbulam said, “My Lords, after due consideration, we apply to concede to this appeal and consequently apply to withdraw the 1st respondent’s brief of argument dated May 17.
“We urge your lordships to find merit in the appeal and apply Article 14(b) and 15(2) of the PDP Electoral Guidelines which disqualifies any candidate that gives false age declaration.”After listening to the parties, the apex court reserved its judgment till December 9.
This submission did not go down well with the third respondent Sen. Ben Ayade as his lawyer Chief Wole Olanipekun made all effort to strike it out. Being the submission of the first respondent and a critical indices in the case, the Apex Court uphold the submission.
Agi who is also a chieftain of the PDP in Cross River State had in his appeal, insisted that Governor Ayade lied about his age.
The appellant who came second in the governorship primary election of the PDP, held in the state on December 8, 2014, adduced exhibits before the court showing that Governor Ayade had in three different affidavits that were deposed to on oath, supplied conflicting dates as his year of birth.
Specifically, the evidence before the court showed that the 3rd respondent (Ayade) had in the Nomination Form, Code PD 003/G, which he used to contest the Cross River State election, stated on oath that he was born on March 2, 1969.
However, the age declaration he attached to the form, which his brother Frank Ayade swore to before a Cross River State High Court sitting at Oleh on February 1, 2007, indicated that the defendant was born in 1968.
Moreover, the plaintiff tendered in evidence, a document that showed that the governor, while applying for admission into the University of Ibadan, gave an age declaration stating that he was born on March 2, 1966. The bio-data was allegedly issued by the University itself.
Meanwhile, when the matter came up for hearing on the 27th September, 2016, PDP, told the apex court that it was satisfied that Ayade violated its Electoral Guidelines by furnishing it with wrong data about his age.
This news was received in the state amidst mixed reactions. On the first part was that the matter should have been resolved at once, that it has taken too long. For these persons, the extension gives room for Ayade to perfect a ploy of impoverishing the state if judgment does not favours him. For others especially in the Governor’s camp such as Emmanuel Olayi, Paul Ojeka, Nku Abuo, Egbung Odama Egbung etc they have taken to the social media to circulate individually a contrary information below:
I want to draw your attention to the rumors going the rounds that the Supreme Court decides Ayade’s Fate as C/River Governor Dec. 9, 2016.
The Supreme Court has fixed December 9th 2016 to deliver judgment on the election of Prof. Ben Ayade as the Governor of Cross River state, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
Ayade of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had polled 342,016 votes in the 2015 governorship election to defeat the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Odey Ochicha, who garnered 53,983 votes.
Don’t be misled by outright detractors and propaganda! I am making this post due to countless calls I have received for clarification. His Excellency, Sen. Prof Ben Ayade is God’s own. This was displayed in the victory as given to him by the voices of majority in our state. This landslide victory will be affirmed and he remains the only Governor of Cross River State till 2019 by God’s grace and beyond.
Our party the People’s Democratic Party PDP, CRS didn’t make any ill pronouncement as rumoured by the ill-fated & malicious persons. It is confirmed that a few miscreants who don’t have the interest of CRS are peddling this rumour! Their lies and deceives will continually be exposed as the days goes by. Let’s Support our dear digital & unstoppable Gov, Sen Prof Ben Ayade to move our state forward to ensuring that CRS changed the change. We shall overcome.
The statement above attributed to the governor’s aides suffered a setback when information about a planned protest was leaked to the media. The Governor’s Political Adviser Mr. Tony Undiandeye has proposed to the Governor to organize a protest in Calabar. Information has it that he has gone ahead to rally all the political appointees of the governor and other persons to do this.
Despite the above setback, discountenancing their statement would have been out of place, hence the arguments of the media aides to the governor were tested for certain hard facts to be deduced. From their said explanation the story is only reported by pro-Agi, but when they were confronted with the hard fact that most media houses were carrying the story, they labelled it rumour and said that media houses are known for their propaganda which this was not also out of place. When the Nigerian Pulse did a digging by asking one of the media aide to tell Cross Riverians exactly what transpired in court, he was rather referring to the above which was out of context.
The members of the APC on hearing the news of the proceedings in court had swung into expectant jubilation that if the Supreme Court removes Ayade, the person to take over will be Mr. Odey Ochicha of the APC who contested with Ayade of the PDP. When Mr. Oleja a legal luminary was asked about how he felt about this and the position of the law. He quickly said that the law is very explicit about this. Mr. Odey Ochicha of APC cannot claim to be governor if Ayade is removed. Ochicha have no locus standing, the position of the law now is that PDP submitted wrong and unqualified candidate to INEC and if the wrong candidate is removed, the second candidate that have the highest scores in that very party become a successor. And Agi is the right person. Note very well that this litigation is a pre-electoral matter “civil” in nature, Odey Ochicha can only succeed Ayade if the case wasn’t a pre-electoral matter “criminal”. See Amaechi Vs Omehia of Rivers State.
For Comr. Edem Edem, he advances thus: Ayade or Agi, PDP or APC. Cross River State needs a real governor that;
1) Will move the state forward,
2). A governor that will stop land grab,
3). A governor that will cancel the idea of 20km offset of the so called Superhighway.
4). A governor that will come up with real time solutions that will generate revenue to clear CRS huge debt burden,
5). A governor that will drawdown the CBN Agric loans to farmers in the state,
6). A state governor that will pay the state counterpart fund to draw down UBEC funds that is meant to fix the bad state of primary school infrastructures in the state.
7). A state governor that will adhered to the Cross River state Public Procurement law of 2011.
8). A state governor that will make Songhai Farm in Abi LGA work and produce food, livestock and revenue for the state.
9). A state governor that will reduce the cost of governance in terms of number of aides, foreign and in country trips.
10). A state governor that will allow the local government function as provided by the constitution
11). A state governor that will fixed both state and federal road in his/her state for the benefit of the state.
12). A state governor that will listen and accept constructive criticisms and use it to improve on good governance.
13). A state governor that will restore the peace and security of people living and visiting Cross River state.
14). A state governor that will encourage and promote Entrepreneurship in the state.
15). A governor that will ensure that both state and local government workers are paid at the same time without discrimination.
16). A state governor that will appreciate the contribution of Civil society organizations/ NGOs and work with them.
CROSS RIVER STATE needs a real state GOVERNOR.
When Mr. Mike Ijim of the Joe Agi Campaign Organzation was asked about the recent events, he tagged it GOD WILLING, TRUTH AND PUBLIC GOOD WILL PREVAIL.
He first of all thanked all Cross Riverians and party members for their prayers and support for Agi in the quest for justice and equity. He said, without your prayers and encouragement, I doubt if we could have come this far in the quest to reestablish good governance in our dear state.
I wish to assure everyone that we are on the course of victory and with God on our side, Cross River shall be great again, soon. I praise you all just as I ask you to be vigilant and not do anything that can lead to breach of peace and civility. I am not unaware of a plan for sponsored demonstrations by enemies of progress. I urge those who are planning such to use the money to pay the backlog of overdue salaries.
Traces of Comr. Edem Edem’s dream Cross River State could be seen in Mr. Mike’s Submission and it is to this end the Cross Riverians are advised not to heat up the polity and act irrationally but await the verdict of the Supreme Court come December 9th, 2016.