The capital of Cross River State, Calabar, was agog recently, as the Obudu and Obanliku communities in the northern senatorial district rolled out the drums in honour of one of their sons, Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim, who was elevated to the Apex Court November 6, 2020, and on August 7, 2022, his kith and kin feted him with a banquet and parades. The Supreme Court judge had made a name for himself and therefore deserved the royal treatment.
The event attracted personalities from the bench and the bar, the academia, politics, clergymen, traditional rulers, old boys’ association members, women’s groups, friends and family members. It was a day to rub elbows.
The roll call t the event includeed Governor Ben Ayade, Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Esu, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Chief Judge of Cross River State, Hon Justice Akon Ikpeme, and his counterparts from Plateau and Sokoto states, some Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Cross River state, Tanko Achang, SAN, the VC of University of Calabar, Prof. Florence Banku Obi and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the federation, Kanu Agabi, SAN.
Others were former Vice Chancellor of University of Calabar, APC and PDP chairmen, Alphonsus Ogar Eba and Venatius Ikem, respectively, APC governorship candidate, Sen Prince Bassey Otu, Prof. John Undie, Prof. Gidwin Aniah, Prof. Augustine Ogogo, Prof. Monday Ushie, Prof. John Shiyam, Dr. Akomay Odey Mboto, Lady Josephine Ogar, Prof Lucy Udida and Agga Ebeneza Agba.
However, the red letter day first commenced with a Thanksgiving Mass held at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ikot Ansa, and was followed with a grand reception at Transcorp Hotels.
To add colour to the event, there was representation of kola nuts by High Chief Eugene Akeh, presentation of lecture by Agabi, presentation of memorabilia, offering of special prayers and blessing of memorabilia by Rev. Fr. Bernard Ashipu.
There was a cultural display by the popular litong dancers from Obanliku, presentation of traditional songs and dances by Obudu and Obanliku women groups, Ipong daughters and Okambi community to spice up the ceremony. Their various traditional renditions and displays were reminiscence of the rich cultural setting of old Obudu communities. The popular Calabar-based comedian, ‘Otuetue’, was on hand dishing out his rib-cracking jokes.
Presenting the homily at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ikot Ansa Calabar, Bishop John Ebebe Ayah, urged Justice Emmanuel Akumaye Agim to be prudent, truthful and firm in truth in the discharge of his duties, stating that fear should be jettisoned in the day-to-day discharge of official duties.
He said:”You are not above the law, be prudent call white, call black, don’t shortchange judgments. Stand for the truth, we wish you the very best, don’t upturn judgments. There are so many things that make us afraid these days: the insecurity, the kidnapping and economic issues, teachers strikes and so much more; all these make us afraid. The Lord has spoken to us today, do not fear, do not be afraid as the gospel has said, things will get better.”
Turning to the political leaders present, Bishop Ayah said: “It is high time our leaders ensured that the gains of democracy are delivered to the people. Next year is election year, what is our hope? Do we have hope? We should be proud of Nigeria. I speak to the political class, when you use our educated children for your political campaigns, are you doing the right thing?
“Other people’s children are working for you; if much is given to you much more is expected from you. As other people’s children are working for you, what about your children? As a leader, it is a time to serve your people; we should have good roads, water, electricity and other amenities.
“To the led, do you know you now encourage corruption? Why do you expect the elected representatives to be giving you monies unduly? Criticism sometimes is taken too far. Don’t steal or vandalise government infrastructure.”
Extolling the sterling qualities of Agim, Ayade said he has brought panache and brilliance to the apex court, making his rulings a must read, describing him as a source of inspiration to many.
Ayade said: “The former Chief Justice of the Republics of Gambia and Swaziland has risen to the pinnacle of his career through dint of hard work and persistency of purpose. Of all the accolades heaped on Justice Agim, what is omitted is that he is a legal poet.
“When you read his judgment you will think he is a professor of literature. If you read him upside down you will see deep philosophy, if you take it straight forward you will see jurisprudence. “Obudu and Obalinku local government areas have produced quite a large number of lawyers because everybody looks up to Justice Agim.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the chairman of Obudu-Obanliku Elties Forum, who doubled as the chairman of the central planning committee, Undie, said God has lifted up one of their brothers, Justice Agim, because he (Agim) has done the needful.
Undie said: “Agim’s legal foot prints continue to speak for him so much that he is being equated with the most celebrated English Jurist, which is a testimony of the legal technocracy embedded in you as you speak justice to power across countries.
“It is this rare great and, indeed milestone that has left no one in doubt of your pedigree, that you had already lived up to the expectations of this elevation from other sovereign countries even before your return to serve your father land. We pray for God’s protection as you continue to discharge your duties in the temple of justice to the benefit of man.”
Pouring encomiums on Agim, the chairman of the occasion and former Vice Chancellor of University of Calabar, Prof. Zana Akpagu, described him as a lawyer without borders, the father of Gambian judiciary, a legal administrator and an academic. According to Akpagu, “Agim has a purpose-driven vision; he is an illustration of reward for hard work, which is success as his entire life is a string of success.”
In his lecture, Agabi said: “The Lord by elevating him to the apex court shows that there is reward for hard work. This celebration is not about Agim alone, it is about other illustrious sons and daughters that have also achieved in their various fields from the Obbudu-Obanliku tree. And it is the same Obudu-Obanliku tree that has yielded the fruits that yielded you as a person.
“Agim belongs to the nation, but he has not lost his friends and that is why we all gathered here today to celebrate him.”
In a goodwill message by Okambi Development Association and signed by Ushaka Abomaya and Engr. Daniel Adason as chairman and secretary respectively, they described Agim’s elevation as an inspiration to the community, adding that “the feat achieved by their son is not a fluke but by strength of purpose and hard work which he has brought to the people.”
Responding, Agim said he was overwhelmed by the massive show of love by his people, adding,: “Today’s message is not lost. Coming together to be happy that somebody is successful is something that is remarkable and worth mentioning.”
He attributed his meteoric rise in the judiciary to divine providence, “because I did not achieve anything, God did everything; there is no one thing I did by my initiative or by my brilliance or by my ability; everything was done by God.
“I urged public office holders to put God first in whatever office they found themselves. When you are given an office, please see it as an assignment from God, see it as God’s assignment so that God who gave you the assignment will be with you and carry you along. We owe this country a duty to salvage it from the situation we find ourselves now and we can only do that if we remain God-focused.”
Agim stated that he was delighted at the unity of purpose that exists in the Obudu- Obanliku axis of the state, hailing his people for “uniting for peace, uniting for strength. I am just lucky; it is a privilege that it fell on me to be used as a point for this type of unity.”
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