Akpata slams Wike over accusations against NBA

Wike had claimed that the association had failed in its duty to protect the judiciary in Nigeria.

Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olumide Akpata. [TheCable]

The Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, has condemned Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, for making disparaging comments about the association.

This comes after Wike claimed that the NBA had become a paper tiger and failed in its responsibility to protect the Nigerian judiciary and protect it against political intimidation.

The Governor made the assertion at a book launch recently held in honour of retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Mary Peter-Odili.

Reacting to the criticism, the NBA in a statement issued by Akpata on Thursday, May 19, 2022, said the association decided to respond to Wike's baseless allegations because many people would presume he's speaking from position of knowledge due to his status as a senior lawyer, Punch reported.

Akpata said, “It is indeed quite ironic that Governor Wike made these unfortunate statements at an event held in honour of Justice Mary Odili in support of whom the NBA stood firm in the face of that brazen attack on her home in Abuja by some persons who are now standing trial in our law courts.

“That Wike has chosen so quickly to either forget or ignore this, and other actions of the NBA in support of the judiciary, is suggestive of a dissonance that is most disconcerting and should give one serious cause for concern.

“It is very convenient for the governor to ask Nigerian lawyers (as he did at the Book Launch) to emulate their apparently more courageous Pakistani colleagues when the issues at stake do not concern him directly; but when in 2019, the very same Nigerian lawyers had the temerity to question his handling of the security situation in Rivers State and threatened to boycott the courts if there was no abatement of the rising insecurity in the state, he was only too quick to lambast the lawyers and to withdraw his support for the association in the state.”

The NBA Chairman added that, “The politico-legal history of Nigeria is replete with the commendable role that the NBA has played and continues to play as a primary defender of the rule of law and protector of the judiciary in Nigeria. While the NBA might have at different points dithered in playing these roles, the NBA is not known to have shirked that responsibility in recent times.

“Our commitment to defend the judiciary and its integrity has remained unshaken and the NBA has been making spirited efforts to discharge that responsibility creditably in the less than two years since this administration of the NBA assumed office.

"Illustrative examples abound to drive home this point, and three well-known examples remain fresh in the consciousness of Nigerians and constitute recent history that cannot be rewritten even by a personality of Wike’s calibre.”

Meanwhile, Wike has expressed his profound gratitude to Justice Mary Odili for stepping in to prevent his political career from an early end.

The Governor narrated how interceded on his behalf when he informed her that his name had been excluded from those cleared to contest either as first term or second term chairmen of local councils in Rivers state.

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