Ayade free of all legal battles

Governor Ben AyadeBARRING any appeal the governor of Cross River State is now free of all legal encumbrances. He had earlier won all his cases in the tribunal and last Friday he won the pre-election mater brought against him by Joe Agi, Ntufam Fidelis Ugbo of Labour Party (LP) and Odey Ochicha of the All Progressive Congress (APC) had withdrawn their cases in the tribunal against Ayade.

Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Cross River State Chapter, Goddie Akpama expressed satisfaction with the Federal High Court judgment.

He blamed Agi for launching ‘unrelenting onslaught’ on the governor and warned him to desist from distracting Ayade, who he said had come to liberate the state.

He said that the judgment was good for the people of the state and would allow the governor to be focused saying, “there have been disturbing distractions coming from the least of quarters especially in a suit filed by one of the gubernatorial aspirants of the PDP, Agi.

On July 31, it was jubilation all the way in Cross River State Government House, Calabar as Ayade survived an attempt to be removed from office as governor in a disturbing pre-election matter.

The Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice Abdul Kafarati in almost an hour ruling, dismissed the case brought by the plaintiff, Agi seeking to remove Ayade from office. Agi who came second in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) primaries last year had dragged Ayade (defendant) to court on grounds that he did not pay his party dues and he had two different age declarations.

Agi told the court that Ayade in his nomination form was said to have been born on March 2, 1969 which on oath also has an age declaration that said he was born March 2, 1968 which is in conflict with what is stated in the form.

He submitted, “in his INEC form CFO 1 which is also on oath, he swore that he was born on the second of March 1969, and I also got the University of Ibadan to tender his student bio data card which states that he was born on March 2, 1966 which contradicts other dates. When he graduated he was employed there and they brought his staff bio data card, which is March 2, 1968.

This even conflicts with his student bio data age.” He told the court, “by virtue of section 14b of the Electoral guidelines of PDP which says a gubernatorial aspirant shall not be qualified for nomination or to contest nomination if he presents false age declaration or birth certificate for the purpose of the primaries or for any other purpose.

But here he is with three conflicting ages. He presented 1969 and 1968 and I am saying by virtue of that the party ought to have disqualified him by the guidelines and the Supreme Court in one of its judgment had said the party must obey their guidelines.

But the judge held that the governor paid his party dues of N600 as at when due as there was overwhelming evidence that he paid his dues and there was a receipt from the party to show that the defendant had paid his dues and the party testified so. On the second issue that the governor has two ages, the court ruled that, that kind of an allegation was that of a crime and “there was no sufficient evidence to prove it”.

Justice Kafarati dismissed the matter saying the plaintiff should have proved beyond reasonable doubt the defendants had two age declarations besides the affidavit evidence.

Counsel to the governor, Paul Erokoro, who spoke with some newsmen in Calabar through telephone conversation, said that the judgment had put paid to wild allegations against the governor.

Erokoro said, “the judgment teaches us that nobody should go to court without seeking legal advice even if the person is a lawyer, must seek legal advice. Don’t just rush to the court because you think you have a case.

It shows that cases should not be fought in pages of newspapers and by the social media. This judgment made it very clear that all the allegations made were trivial and false.” Agi on his part declined to make much comment on the judgment but said that the matter would go to appeal. Judgment on the matter was earlier fixed for July 22, 2015 but was rescheduled to July 31, 2015.

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