Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has recalled how a chieftaincy dispute in his community led to the arrest and detention of his father, himself and other family members.
He said this while eulogising Emmanuel C. Ukala, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on the occasion of his 65th birthday.
Wike said it was Ukala, who led the legal battle for his family to be discharged and acquitted during the 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 said.
Wike said the senior lawyer, in whose firm he worked after leaving the Nigerian Law School, took his family’s ordeal very personal and gave his best to it.
The governor added that 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.
“Throughout my chairmanship matter in 1998, when we had election down to April 4, 2000, when Supreme Court finally decided my matter, he never took 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.