“Nothing, therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to happen. He either permits it to happen or He brings it about Himself, and for a purpose.”
~ St. Augustine of Hippo.
To the Glory of God and the Blessed Sacrament, the Supreme Court of Nigeria, on Friday, April 20, 2018, dismissed my long sustained pre-election matter for the Makurdi/Guma Federal Constituency seat, on the ground of a careless procedural error of not having sought the ‘Leave Of Court’ before appeal, on our part, which led to the destruction of an otherwise excellent substance. It was a reckless hazard, and I have since taken that, together with the conclusion, with equanimity in the providence of God confident that a brighter dawn lies ahead. It has always been my divine vow that whatever God does not approve for me; I should not have! On this too, Jehovah has the final say.
As a quick recap, the journey that culminated with the Supreme Court judgement of last week started in January 2015 at the FCT High Court through to the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal. It was based on the charade that happened in December 2014 after I contested and won the APC primaries for Makurdi/Guma Constituency seat. But the party leadership in Benue State led by Senator George Akume infamously, illegally and rapaciously procured my friend, Dickson Tarkighir, from the PDP and handed him the ticket on a platter. Unwholesome perjury was conjured to water this despicable tyranny.
Consequently, challenging the gruesome act of impunity was an inevitable necessity for me. Firstly, struggle for freedom has always defined my life, and as a Lawyer and Activist, it is a fundamental duty. Secondly, it was borne out of my personal irreducible conviction, conscience and principles. Thirdly, it was meant to defend our democratic values/ethos and expunge brigandage in our electoral experience. Also, silent acquiescence in the face of tyranny is no better than outright agreement. Very importantly, my struggle was in defence of the mandate freely given to me by a vast coalition of our people and supporters, and posterity will not have been kind to me if I’d betrayed the trust reposed on me, for lucre.
In the course of the struggle I have seen treachery and back-biting; I was harrased; induced; insulted; threatened; abducted; detained; maliciously prosecuted; plotted against, and my supporters widely victimised. At the end, I’m deeply proud of what we did. I am even more profoundly proud because it was supported by majority of our people who never hid their love for justice and truth. Lessons were learnt and the foundation of tyranny was also shaken.
However, unfortunately on the other hand, few people opposed our noble concerns just because of expediency and political bargain. Others did it out of ignorance while others out of hatred. I’ve been called rude because I challenged political banditry. I have been derisively tagged as “Mr Know-All” because I persistently asked that the right things be done. My constant stinking criticisms of illegalities, sleaze and electoral charades have been described as “insult to elders.” Nevertheless, our struggle was in the defence of the future of their children and children’s children even if they chose to negatively mortgaged theirs today. Our struggle was meant to foster individual liberties, opportunity, peace and unity.
I observed that only few people were willing to draw Senator George Akume’s attention to the notorious fact that his insatiable penchant for despotism and impunity is steadily turning our people to ‘Happy Slaves’ and bequeathed as a culture. This has exposed the truism that, in every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism and humility, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the People. We cannot continue this way. Even though our climb might be steeped, I’m very confident that we shall get there, and very soon by God’s willing.
In the words of my mentor and uncle, William Ukor, “tyranny has a long list of the battles it has won, but truth remains the undisputed winner of wars.” We won this war! Our strength doesn’t come from this win alone. It comes from struggles and hardship. Everything that we go through prepares us for the next level. I’m now more determined to go into a new phase ordered by God and for the love of our people, country and humanity.
I conclude by thanking my lovely wife, Brenda, for the sacrifice she and our two beautiful kids made, and for the enduring love and support. I appreciate my parents and siblings and family, most especially my irrepressible Auntie, Dr. Margaret Bai-Tachia. I would not have reached this point without the unyielding support of my boss and unsung hero, Rt.Hon. Emmanuel Jime and other array of heroes like Rt.Hon. Orker Jev, Rt.Hon Avine Agbom, Chief Mrs Rebecca Apedzan, Ambassador Dickson Akor, Comrade Abba Moro, Rt.Hon. Dave Iorhemba, Comrade Dan Onjeh, Chief John Akperashi and Hon. Terseer Adzuu. The list includes, but not restricted to my friends who have shown absolute commitment: Comrade Shighe Tyohen, Isaiah Abah, Asor Matu, Bem Ugela, Osmond Abiche, Desmond Mnyam, Harris Kange, Zaan Dave, Emma Akpakwu, Linus Aposu, Barnes Mnenga, Raymond Asemakaha, Joe Idoko, Ebele Emmanuel, Fabian Yaga, Kamo Sende, Terseer Ayaka, Jonathan Ayuba, Haruna Abubakar, Umbur Dennis, Gwaza Madaki, Leva Jonah, Sule Abdul, Isaac Wuaga, my brother – Jonathan Modi, Samuel Mtan, Abubakar Abdullahi, Sesugh Akume, VATIM, KOBA and my numerous allies across bi-partisan divides who sustained the faith when others chose to betray. Most importantly, my biggest gratitude goes out to all our supporters; the elders, women groups, youth and students groups, Makurdi Hausa community, religious leaders and close friends who steadied the ship and maintained the course even when others turned from friends to foes. I remain eternally grateful. Assuredly, we look up to the future together!
Furthermore, I congratulate my big brother and friend, Dickson Tarkighir, and I encourage him to invoke his full legislative powers to check on the highest authorities in the land for the siege and calculated act of genocide in our land. This is the time to heal the divides that has held back our progress. As President Abraham Lincoln said to a generation of Americans far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies but friends… though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”
Again and again, I’m fired up and ready to go! With abiding Faith, Service calls once more!
Franc Fagah Utoo, Esq. LQC (Malaysia); LL.B Hons (Newcastle, UK ); BL (Abuja)
*Former President of the Students Representative Council (SRC), Nigerian Law School, Abuja.
…from Yelewata, Guma LG of Benue State.