Edo 2024: Akpata and UNIBEN incident: Unravelling paradox of political lawyer

Barr. Olumide Akpata of LP

Edo 2024: Akpata and UNIBEN incident: Unravelling paradox of political lawyer

By Presley Okojie

Being a lawyer involves upholding professional standards and etiquette. Lawyers are generally expected to conduct themselves with professionalism, integrity, and most importantly, respect towards others.

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This was however not the case with former Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, President, Olumide Akpata, who on Friday, showed the other side of the coin when he descended into the arena to refer to students as hoodlums and went on to brazenly unleash the firepower of his security details on students for simply seeking to have an interaction with him.

The Labour Party, LP, governorship candidate was a guest of the Senior Staff Association of the University of Benin, UNIBEN, for an interactive session at the Senior Staff Club at the Ugbowo campus.

However, in the course of the event, some students arrived the venue to have a dialogue with him and ascertain his plans for Students if elected governor of Edo State.

Rather than give them the desired audience, Akpata proceeded to call the students hoodlums, an action which further infuriated them and led to a protest.

The ensuing protest resulted in an overzealous security operative opening fire in order to dispel the students, creating a fracas that could have been avoided in which a UNIBEN staff and some students were injured.

Barrister Akpata’s action showed him to be arrogant, impetuous and entitled. As an alumnus of the institution, it is expected that Barrister Akpata would have been able to address the students in a conciliatory tone that will assuage their feelings and create room for a more cordial and robust relationship with the students. But then, it would appear that violence is never quite far from the pugilistic Akpata.

It will be recalled that Akpata, as NBA President, oversaw the most shameful NBA-Annual General Conference in 2022 that was marred by violence as Committee members loyal to him clashed with lawyers who were protesting against the inadequate supply of conference materials.

In the build up to the primaries of the LP, the same Olumide Akpata orchestrated the brutalisation of party’s National Chairman, Julius Abure, and used the police to harass and intimidate him when he felt that the Party primaries and congresses were not going his way.

It is thus no surprise that security operatives attached to him would resort to shooting sporadically in a bid to dispel protesting students. Such high-handedness is totally unacceptable.

Read: Edo Guber 2024: Hurdles Before the Three Parties in Edo State; Labour Party in Focus (Part 2)

It is even more despicable to desecrate a revered tertiary institution like the great University of Benin and intimidate students with his security details.

In the immortal words of former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, “A University should be a place of light, of liberty, and of learning.” It is a grave moral evil to dishonour the sanctity of the University with such violence.

The desperation of partisan politics has no place within the hallowed walls of a university and it is the barest minimum for any civil person to respect it.

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The ugly incident on Friday is a sneak preview of what might likely happen if Edo State ever has the misfortune of having Olumide Akpata as Governor.

Presley Okojie is a lawyer and a member of NBA, he wrote from Auchi, Edo State.

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