Recent statements made by a leader of the Yoruba Lawyers Association, Egbe Amofin, Niyi Akintola SAN, against the immediate past president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata, has been strongly condemned.
Barristerng reports that Akintola revealed during a radio program that top Yoruba lawyers including the Body of Benchers, BoB, Chairman, Wole Olanipekun SAN, had reportedly vowed not to honor Akpata with their presence throughout his tenure as NBA president.
Recall that Akpata’s tenure was dared by a number of senior Yoruba lawyers especially when he asked Olanipekun to recuse himself from the BoB position for independent investigation following allegations that a partner in his firm sought for mouth watering court cases citing his ability to influence judges.
The partner in question, Mrs. Adekunbi Ogunde Esq, later apologized for her actions but Olanipekun said she did it without his knowledge.
It is not clear whether Olanipekun did step down for an independent probe, but the BoB committee on August 19 dismissed the petition against his firm for lacking in merit.
But sharing his opinion about the behaviour of certain lawyers who disrupted the just concluded NBA Annual General Conference, Akintola leveraged on it to hit at Akpata.
He reportedly alleged that Akpata was not a practicing lawyer.
“When that boy Akpata came on board, We the Yoruba Leaders, the Egbe Amofin, we took a unified position that we will not dignify that boy with our presence at any of Bar gathering, Unfortunately, some of our people who took that decision alongside of us betrayed that trust.
“Coming from the background that I have, being a progressive, when I take a decision, when I say this is what I am going to do, even at the risk of my life, I will stick to that.
“We took that decision in Ibadan here, Chief Olanipekun happens to be the leader of Egbe Omofin in Nigeria, I happen to be his deputy. Chief Olanipekun and I have religiously kept to that position but unfortunately some of our boys and girls felt otherwise because they wanted to be in one office or the other.
“That boy has never practiced law before in his life, He is a transactional Lawyer. He cannot even move a motion, He has never done so before, He said so himself. He doesn’t go to court. He is a businessman, He is a transactional lawyer and you make such a person your president, Somebody who doesn’t even know psychology of the Court. He doesn’t know the geography of the court,” he said as cited by Barristerng.
Reacting to the development in a statement made available to THE WHISTLER on Wednesday, human rights lawyer, Chief Malcolm Emokiniovo Omirhobo, stated that the comments of Akintola and his likes about Akpata was a sad development for the legal profession.
He said Akintola’s comment is “ungentlemanly , uncourteous, irresponsible , derogatory , divisive and conduct unbecoming of members of the inner bar.”
He wrote in part, “ When I read certain comments made by some Senior Advocates of Nigeria, I wonder how they got the rank because they fail in all ways to exhibit the qualities required of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria .
“There are plethora of comments made by some Senior Advocate of Nigeria that has brought disrepute and discredit to the legal profession but for the purpose of this write up those of Yomi Aliyu SAN and Niyi Akintola SAN will suffice .
“Chief Yomi Aliyu SAN, responding to the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr Olumide Akpata dragging a partner in the law firm of the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, Mrs Adekunbi Ogunde, to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, LPDC for soliciting for clients of other lawyers, Promising that Chief “Olanipekun SAN will use his position as body of Benchers Chairman to Influence all Nigerian Judges to give an expatriate oil company a favorable Judgement , wrote on a public platform of lawyers as follows:
“President Akpata, una do well ooooo! Yoruba lawyers shall be there in full force to defend our leader and Primus inter Peres! No Yoruba son shall ever be made a sacrificial lamb like it was done to Kunle Kalejaiye SAN! Call it what you like! Tribalism!Yes! What an insult! We are Yorubas before we are Nigerians”
“Niyi Akintola SAN claiming to be speaking for Egbe Amofin , the umbrella body of Yoruba lawyers, responding to a question about the fisticuff that ensued at the just concluded NBA-AGM on a radio program at Fresh FM in Ibadan unfairly and for no just cause took a swipe at immediate past President of NBA Olumide Akpata .
“It is shameful that both SANS have brought tribalism into the bar in a flagrant attempt to divide the bar along ethnic lines. For their gross misconduct , I recommend that both SAN face disciplinary action before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee.
Come to think of it , what contributions has Yemi Aliyu SAN and Niki Akintola SAN made to the advancement of the legal profession in Nigeria ? I will say nothing near the contributions made by the former President of the NBA, Olumide Akpata.
“I challenge both SANS to tell us how many lawyers they have employed in their career and how much they pay lawyers under their employment . Akpata as far as I know have employed many lawyers and paid them handsomely well. In fact Akpata’s firm the TEMPLARS is one of the highest paying law firm in Nigeria since it’s inception to date.
“The bag saga at the just concluded NBA conference and in house fighting notwithstanding, I score Olumide Akpata an A. The man did well. He came , saw, conquered and left his foot prints on the sands of time .Joor( English translation: please), Akintola SAN, Akpata na man no be boy . “