Gentlemen of the bar, my attention has been drawn to an online publication with the above heading written by Bridget Edokwe and published in the March 16th edition of the BarristerNG.com news blog.
This publication appears to be hinged on the comments made by the Branch Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant Secretary and Publicity Secretary on a whatsApp platform to the effect that they were not aware that the Branch was hosting a meeting of the Mid West Bar Forum.
This has led some members to insinuate that the publication of a Mid West Bar Forum Meeting is a hoax, others have insinuated that the Branch Chairman singlehandedly chose to host a meeting of the Mid West Bar Forum without the knowledge of the Branch or officers of the Branch.
In order to clear the air and properly situate the facts, I have decided to issue this statement.
The Warri Branch did not issue any statement dissociating itself from the forum meeting convened by Chief T. J. O. Okpoko SAN, OON fixed for Saturday, the 21st March at Wellington Hotel, Effurun as published by the aforementioned online blog.
Undisputed facts in the public domain point clearly to the fact that Chief T. J. Onomigbo Okpoko, SAN, OON a past Chairman of the NBA Warri Branch and a past President of the NBA called a meeting of the elders of the Mid West Bar Forum on the 22nd of November, 2019 to resolve the crisis which engulfed the forum in 2018 and which led to the inability of the Chairman of the forum Chike Onyemenam, SAN to call a meeting of the forum for over one year. Chief Okpoko, SAN chose Benin City as the venue of the meeting and the meeting was duly held on that day.
At that meeting a caretaker committee with K. O. Obamogie, Esq., as Chairman was set up to conduct elections into the forum. On the 21st day of December, 2019 a meeting was called by the former Chairman of the forum Chike Onyemenam, SAN to be held at Agbor and at that meeting elections were purportedly held with Chike Onyemenam SAN emerging as the chairman. The Chairman of the caretaker committee, K. O. Obamogie, Esq., was not present at that meeting and rather than unifying members of the forum, the meeting of December appeared to have further stoked the crisis in the forum as the chairman of the caretaker committee appeared to be at a loss as to how the new officers of the forum emerged.
In order to nip this crisis in the bud, Chief T. J. O. Okpoko, SAN, OON decided to call another meeting to be held in Warri on the 21st of March, 2020 for the Chairman of the caretaker committee, K. O. Obamogie, Esq. to give his report. This much is clear from the notice that was published. It is the notice for that meeting which was published on the 16th of March, 2020 that has generated this unnecessary heat. In the first place, the notice was issued by Chief T. J. O. Okpoko, SAN, OON, in his undisputed capacity as the leader of the Mid West Bar Forum. The notice was not issued by the NBA Warri Branch and this is why the aforementioned officers of the Branch were not aware of it before it was published. The notice speaks for itself.
Nevertheless, the NBA Warri Branch considers it a privilege to be chosen by our leader to host this important meeting. The meeting has been brought to the attention of members the Branch and I enjoin those who are qualified to attend. It is therefore not true that the Branch is denying knowledge of the meeting. The aforementioned officers only stated truthfully that they were not aware of the said meeting before the notice was issued.
They have now been fully briefed and are now aware that it is not the Branch that issued the notice which would have made it imperative for them to be in the picture. This clarification has become necessary in order to stop some fifth columnists from using the name of NBA Warri Branch or any of its officers a tool to tarnish the name and reputation of our leader, Chief T. J. O. Okpoko, SAN, OON., Thank you.
Michael A. Asugo, Esq., ACIArb (UK), Chairman, NBA Warri Branch