Nigerian Bar Association President-elect, Mr. Olumide Akpata has warned his supporters to desist from lampooning opponents while celebrating his victory at the poll.

In a post trending on social media, Akpata chided “my supporters who have unnecessarily targeted and excoriated our colleagues for no just cause,” and warned that such attitude would detract from his quest to forge a united Bar. He noted that “a divided Bar is a defeated Bar.”

It is recalled that some senior lawyers have expressed worry at what they perceive as disrespect from juniors in relation to the recent NBA Elections. Fiery longstanding NBA Chief Prosecutor, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa SAN has penned several statements on the subject, even as CITY LAWYER yesterday reported a searing indictment of erstwhile NBA presidential candidate, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN by Akpata’s accredited agent at the elections, Mr. Aderemi Oguntoye.

The full text of Akpata’s statement is below.

Dear Colleagues,

In the last few days, I have observed with concern the rising tide of social media vitriol by a few lawyers believed to be my supporters who have unnecessarily targeted and excoriated our colleagues for no just cause. Whilst I deeply appreciate everyone who contributed to my emergence as President-elect of the NBA, I do not subscribe to showing disrespect to other people because they did not support my candidacy. Ours is a noble profession that prides itself on the high sense of discipline, learning, respect for seniority and character for which its members are reputed.

The mandate that I have from Nigerian lawyers is to work for ALL members of the Bar irrespective of who they voted for in the just concluded elections. In my acceptance speech, I made the obvious point that there is so much work to be done to revitalise our Bar and make it work for everyone without discrimination. This enormous task cannot be achieved if we continue to fan the embers of division at a time when we desperately need to unite and speak with one firm voice.

I therefore use this medium to appeal to our colleagues (both junior and senior) who supported me to show respect to seniors and peers whilst celebrating last week’s electoral victory. We must be kind, magnanimous, respectful and sensitive by our words and actions. This is because doing otherwise would be a great disservice to our vision of building a stronger and formidable Bar. The electioneering season is far behind us. Now is the time to come together because a divided Bar is a defeated Bar.

I leave you with the words of the legendary Henry Ford who said: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

If we truly want to make progress and ultimately succeed as a Bar, then we have a responsibility to show respect to one another and stay together as one. The time to do this is now.
Olumide Akpata

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