Socialite Obinna Iyiegbu, best known as Obi Cubana, facilitated the performance of controversial singer Portable at the Unbarred concert organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja on Wednesday, it has emerged.
The choice of the Zazu singer angered many lawyers who staged a walkout at the event held at the Velodrome, MKO Abiola Stadium in the early hours of Thursday.
Criticism has now been directed at the NBA executive team for what has been labelled an unseemly and disrespectful move toward the legal profession.
A source with inside knowledge of the NBA annual general conference organising committee informed our correspondent that Obi Cubana acted in good faith as a sponsor of the programme.
Portable is associated with Odogwu Bitters, an herbal drink launched by Obi Cubana’s Cubana Group in March 2022.
“Cubana Group engaged Portable and the NBA did not do a thorough screening of the artiste,” the source who craved anonymity said.
Although some members of the organising committee claim ignorance of the identity of the guest artiste before the concert, a pre-event flyer posted on Odogwu Bitters’ Instagram page on Wednesday announced that Portable would perform courtesy of Cubana Group.
Some lawyers, having seen the flyer prior to the concert’s commencement, initially dismissed it as a prank.
In a message sent to QEDNG during the walkout, a lawyer voiced their frustration, “How dare they call Portable to come and play for lawyers at the conference? Can you imagine? Normally, Unbarred doesn’t end till 3am or 4am but we are leaving for our hotels. We are so upset.”
“They spoilt my day with this Zazu. He couldn’t even wear a shirt” remarked another lawyer.
Another lawyer told QEDNG “Many of the conferees were displeased with Portable’s presence.”
As numerous lawyers departed the concert in protest, several others chose to remain and witness what was touted as the biggest NBA-AGC closing party ever.
Videos circulated on social media show Portable, bare-chested, climbing a pole during his act. Security personnel and his handlers eventually escorted him off the stage.
NBA national publicity secretary Habeeb Lawal, however, told Nigerian Tribune, that reports that lawyers staged a walkout were incorrect.
“That is not true, the closing party was a blast, members were happy and dancing till after 3am when we had to close the party for people to rest for the annual general meeting (AGM),” Mr Lawal said.
Unbarred is a live concert within the NBA conference, tailored for lawyers and held on the day preceding the annual general meeting.
Past editions featured performances by 2baba, Wande Coal, Teni, Bez, Brymo, Duncan Mighty, Niniola, Falz, Olamide, and Ruger.
The 2022 NBA conference in Lagos was marred by protests and destruction of registration booths, as disgruntled lawyers expressed dissatisfaction over scarcity and quality of conference materials.