THE “UGLY SCUFFLE” IN PORT-HARCOURT IS UTTER FABRICATION – FRANK BRIGGS

O. V. Frank-Briggs Esq. , past Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Port-Harcourt Branch has given a reliable eye-witness account regarding the unfortunate stories trailing an after-party organised by The Integrity Group to celebrate the emergence of Prince Nyekwere as the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt Branch. 

He recounts as follows:

My attention has been drawn to a publication in some online blogs about an “ugly scuffle” which supposedly took place at an after-party organised by The Integrity Group to celebrate the emergence of Prince Nyekwere as the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt Branch and the other officers.

I have received calls from well meaning members of the Bar from all over the country requesting to confirm the veracity of the report and I wish to state categorically, and for the avoidance of doubt, that nothing can be further from the truth. The report is a poorly orchestrated fabrication by mischievous elements to engineer a crisis for reasons best known to them them but they will not succeed. To set the record straight, below is the true account of what transpired:

The Port Harcourt Branch of the NBA held Branch elections on Wednesday 24 June 2020 after which Prince Nyekwere emerged as Chairman of the Branch and was sworn into office, alongside the other newly elected Branch Executive officers.

Prince and I are members of The Integrity Group and consistent with our practice in the past 6 years, The Integrity Group organised and sponsored a victory party in honour of Prince Nyekwere and the other officers. Contrary to the fabrication that the event took place at Coral Reef Hotel, Port Harcourt, the celebration took place at a private residence in GRA Phase 2, Port Harcourt, in compliance with the State’s COVID-19 directives. Furthermore, some of the guests were hosted in the sitting room while others were seated outside. The event started around 6.30pm in the evening and ended in time to enable the guests return to their homes ahead of the 10pm curfew.

Around 8pm, Olumide Akpata who was the classmate of Prince Nyekwere at the University of Benin, and who I knew was in Port Harcourt on his personal business, came to the event, at the invitation of Prince and I. In the course of the evening, the Co-Chairman of the The Integrity Group, invited Olumide Akpata, as a guest in our midst, to say a few words of congratulations to Prince Nyekwere. There was no campaigning whatsoever.

Immediately after Mr Akpata started to speak, Tonye Krukubo, a partner in the firm of Aluko & Oyebode and the Coordinator of the Babatunde Ajibade campaign in Rivers State, started recording him. Another guest at the event, a legal practitioner and not a “private investigator” as mischievously reported accosted him and asked him (i) why he was recording Olumide Akpata without his permission and (ii) what was the motive behind his sudden decision to start recording having not done so for over three hours since the event started.

Tonye Krukubo apologised and deleted the videos. He however expressed his displeasure in the manner in which the guest spoke to him and the guest apologised. That was the end of the story. Nothing more, nothing less. The only correct thing in the entire reporting was that Olumide Akpata sat calmly throughout the episode and soon after the incident, he politely took his leave.

Notwithstanding the above convincing account of what actually transpired, it is unfortunate that anyone would associate the outstanding Legal Practitioner, Mr Olumide Akpata, with any unlawful conduct as being peddled. Mr Akpata’s hard-earned reputation is not something that could be easily tarnished in the name of NBA politics. The perfect Gentleman has demonstrated high-level character in all ramifications and deserve all our respect. The same goes for all the great Gentlemen aspiring for the office of the President of the NBA.

It is advised that any overzealous supporter standing in opposition to Mr Akpata should toe the part of honour and avoid needless scandalous and defamatory acts. Mr Akpata, like every other candidate, is purely exercising his right to vote and be voted for as far as the NBA election is concerned. It is understood that Mr Akpata is a force to reckon with, and is loved by many across various divides in the legal industry, this should not earn him undeserved vituperations and unfounded allegations against his name. 

 



Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has worked with a number of startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.

Leave a Reply

Yes No