The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt Branch has given an official account of the controversy trailing the alleged manhandling of Mr. Tonye Krukrubo, a senior lawyer with Tier 1 law firm, Aluko & Oyebode, during a victory party to celebrate winners of the recent branch election.
In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, the branch stated that the party was “organised by the friends of the Chairman and the Chairman of the branch in his personal capacity.”
Signed by the Branch Publicity Secretary, Precious U. Dike, the statement noted that the party “was not a gathering of NBA PH branch but a private gathering of victorious candidates,” adding that not only was the party not bankrolled by a leading NBA presidential aspirant, Mr. Olumide Akpata, “Indeed, a particular senior lawyer video recorded Mr. Akpata while felicitating with the Chairman but was called to order by a fellow lawyer to delete the videos which the senior lawyer did without any fisticuffs and nothing more.”
Earlier, former Chairman of the Branch, Mr. Victor Frank-Briggs had also countered the allegation that Krukrubo was rough-handled, saying that though he was challenged for recording Akpata, “Tonye Krukubo (sic) 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 full text of the press statements read:
Re: Commotion at the NBA Port Harcourt (Integrity Branch) Post Election Party: The True State of Happenstance.
The attention of the Chairman, NBA Port Harcourt branch has been drawn to the news making the rounds in various social media platforms over the above subject matter.
Ordinarily, the branch would not have bothered to dignify those who orchestrated the lies with a response but in a bid to liberate netizens and the reading public from the thraldom of malicious propaganda, we state thus:
1. The victory party organised by the friends of the Chairman and the Chairman of the branch in his personal capacity and attended by all the victorious candidates now officers of the aforesaid branch never held in Coral Reef Hotel or any other hotel, but rather in a private residence.
2. Port Harcourt branch of the Nigerian Bar Association is not and has never been known as the Integrity Branch.
3. The gathering as earlier stated was not a gathering of NBA PH branch but a private gathering of victorious candidates, sponsored by the newly elected Chairman and his friends.
4. The gathering complied in full with the established protocols of Covid 19.
5. Mr. Olumide Akpata, never did bankroll the hosting of the said party. He was in town for a private business and invited to the party at the instance of the Chairman who is his call mate and classmate at University of Benin. He did not campaign at the gathering.
6. Indeed, a particular senior lawyer video recorded Mr. Akpata while felicitating with the Chairman but was called to order by a fellow lawyer to delete the videos which the senior lawyer did without any fisticuffs and nothing more.
The general public is hereby urged to disregard the said news as it only happened in the figment of the imaginations of its peddlers.
Precious U. Dike, Esq.
(Publicity Secretary, NBA PH Branch)
THE “UGLY SCUFFLE” IN PORT HARCOURT IS UTTER FABRICATION
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.
O. V. Frank-Briggs
Port Harcourt Branch
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