By Uche Amunike
President of Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata has outrightly condemned the conduct of lawyers looting conference materials and destroying registration booths, Tuesday, over the distribution of conference bags at the Annual General Meeting of the association, as shown in a viral video making the rounds.
Before this incident, which occurred at the Eko Atlantic City, one of the venues of the conference, lawyers received emails from the Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) of the association, intimating them that the distribution of conference materials would be suspended as a result of the substandard quality of materials supplied.
According to the TCCP Chairman, Tobenna Erojikwe, in the email, the collection of the conference materials, particularly the conference bags would be pending until further notice.
His words: ‘It is because while we have ordered more than enough bags to serve our delegates, we have now observed that the most recent batches of the bags delivered to us are less than the quality that we contracted and paid for.’
‘We have accordingly rejected them and asked our suppliers to provide conforming replacements as soon as possible.’
‘In any case, to enable our delegates continue to enjoy the conference, all other materials (particularly the tags, tickets and lanyards will still be issued to you at the designated collection points. The collection of the bags will resume afterwards.’
‘Thank you for your understanding and regret any inconvenience that this might cause you.’
Yet, shortly after, the video now circulating on social media, is seen, showing these same lawyers looting materials that are actually meant for them and also, destroying registration booths in the process.
In reaction, the NBA President condemned the show of shame by his colleagues, which he termed ‘a national embarrassment.
Hear him: ‘As you may already know, the registration center for the collection of materials by delegates at the ongoing Annual General Conference was broken into, vandalised, and looted by some delegates last night with most of the conference materials carted away and lawyers/registration officers injured,’his emailed message read.
‘Whilst we acknowledge and regret that there were lapses in the distribution process, last night’s incident was a national embarrassment as some of our members conducted themselves in a most despicable manner not expected of members of the profession.’
Akpata already met with the leadership of the TCCP, after which the consensus decision to shut down the registration Centre was taken in order to safeguard the lives and safety of members, colleagues and contractors at the conference venue.
Hear him: ‘However, alternative arrangements have been made for the collection of materials by delegates. The new collection center is the BWC Hotel that is located opposite the Eko Atlantic. This new collection center is smaller than the previous one (which is now unusable) and as a result, access to it for collection of materials would be controlled in the following manner:
‘Collection of materials will commence at 2pm today (Wednesday 24 August, 2022) at the BWC Hotel. Delegates will be admitted into the collection center in batches of 80 at a time.
‘Delegates are expected to be seated (or to provide their details) in Breakout Room D at the Eko Atlantic pending when they are called, or sent a text message, to come to the collection center to pick up their materials,’ he said.