By Unini Chioma
*Says Chukwuemeka Innocent Meze Represented The 19 Defendants From 2007 Till The Date Of Judgement
*Says Mr. Okori Akirika Represented Only One Out of The 19 Defendants
*Says Is wrong To Give Glory To Only Akirika Who Came To The Matter Just A Year Ago
An Abuja based lawyer, Chimeze Obi, has said that it is wrong to give glory to only Mr. Okori Akirika for the acquittal of the suspected members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
Recall that Nineteen (19) persons accused of being members of the MASSOB and held in detention for 15 years have been discharged and acquitted by Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court sitting in Awka, Anambra State Capital.
Obi, in a statement made available to TheNigeriaLawyer, expressed concern that the lawyer, Mr. Chukwuemeka Innocent Meze, handled the matter from inception in 2007 to the date of judgment was not mentioned or given glory. According to him, Mr. Akirika who was given credit came into the matter just a year ago. Obi faulted Akirika for granting an interview creating the impression that he (Akirika) is the only counsel who handled the matter.
Obi said, “As lawyers and ministers in the temple of justice, we owe ourselves and our colleagues the duty to allow glory go to whom it is due, and not take what another colleague labored for.
“A day ago, a story went viral of the discharge and acquittal of about 19 suspected members of MASSOB, by the Federal High Court, Awka Division, who was detained since 2007 for acts of Treason, Treasonable felony, terrorism and other charges. In the video which has gone far & wide, an Awka based counsel Mr. Okori Akirika (name wrongly spelled by the reporter) was seen granting an interview to the press. The impression created by the lawyer to an officious bystander is that the lawyer is the one who handled the matter from beginning to the end but there’s another story.
“The said lawyer who granted the interview actually represented only one person (the 19th defendant/accused) toward the end of the trial. Incidentally, he even came into the matter about a year ago.
The truth has to be told for posterity. A colleague by the name, Mr. Chukwuemeka Innocent Meze of Awka Branch of NBA commenced representation of the entire 19 accused persons in 2007 when those innocent persons were arrested that year, arraigned at both the Anambra State High Court for murder and the Federal High court, Awka for Treason, and eventually followed the matter through till acquittal two days ago.
“On that day of judgement, 24th November, 2021, C.I. Meze Esq. was engaged in celebration of the acquittal by the accused persons, one of whom head-lifted him out of the courtroom when Akirika Esq. was already granting press interview on the matter outside the courtroom, surreptitiously taking the glory.”
Obi described Akirika’s failure to mention the name of Meze during the interview as betrayal because according to him Meze did not only represent the Defendants since 2007, he (Meze) also supported the dependants of some of them.
He called in bloggers to find a way of interviewing Meze being the counsel who represented the defendants.
“It is somewhat of a betrayal by a colleague that Counsel in his interview deemed it no fit to mention the name of Chukwuemeka Innocent Meze Esq. who not only saw the case through for almost 15 years but was personally taking care of the families of some of the accused persons by personally supporting their dependants. Akirika Esq. should have at least as a colleague stated to the press during the interview the lawyer who passed through tick and thin to see the case through who was no other but C.I. Meze Esq.
“It is important that this pathetic but noble story be retold by the victims of this injustice in order to situate it properly & allow the glory to go to whom it is due for posterity sake. I’m not an interested party but I heard the story & I feel obliged to correct the impression in the minds of the reading public.
“Bloggers should find a way to interview the Counsel who made representations and the Counsel to retell the story so that original glory goes to God & the right Counsel.”