Nyesom Wike, the Rivers State governor, recently recalled a chieftaincy dispute which occurred in his community that led to the arrest and detention of his father, uncle, brothers, and himself on a trumped-up murder charge.
He stated this while eulogising the contributions of Emmanuel C. Ukala, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on the occasion of the latter’s 65th birthday party held on Tuesday, December 28, 2021, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
This was contained in a statement issued by the governor’s media aide, Kelvin Ebiri where the governor noted that it took the intervention of Ukala as their lead counsel for him and his family to be discharged and acquitted during the chieftaincy ordeal.
“There was a time that the entire family was charged for murder. Every male was taken away. We only had women left in the house with children between the ages of one and five. As at that time, I was reading law at the then Rivers State University of Science and Technology, now Rivers State University,” he stated.
Governor Wike disclosed that the legal luminary, in whose law firm he worked after leaving the Nigerian Law School, took his family’s ordeal very personal and gave his best to ensure that they got justice.
Speaking on his initial chequered political history, Wike said when he declared his intention to contest for the office of the chairman, Obio-Akpor Local Government Area in 1998, some callous politicians in his constituency ganged up and conspired with the police to frame him up for armed robbery.
According to him, Ukala not only intervened and secured his release, but also defended him from the tribunal up to the Supreme Court when some vested interest in the council desperately attempted to deprive him to be sworn into office as Obio-Akpor council chairman.
The governor added, “throughout my chairmanship matter in 1998, when we had election down to April 4, 2000, when Supreme Court finally decided my matter, he (Ukala) never took a dime, one Naira.”
Governor Wike stated that when the Rivers State election petition tribunal annulled the 2015 governorship poll which he won convincingly, he contacted some lawyers to defend him in the matter and they demanded as much as N300 to N600 million as their legal fee. But when he approached Ukala, whom he described as a mentor, he was offered free legal service.
“Then my governorship election, most people may not believe it, from governorship tribunal down to Supreme Court, he never collected one dime,” Wike stated.
Governor Wike, who described Ukala as a refined and disciplined lawyer, applauded the legal icon for being a worthy mentor to him and his wife when they started their legal practice in Port Harcourt.