NBA backlists Antoche Limited, threatens legal action against CEO for dishonesty in conference materials supply
Former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, has fingered a Nigerian limited liability company, Antoche Limited and its CEO, Martha Okopi, to be responsible for the conference materials shortage that led to vandalism in the just-concluded annual general conference of the NBA in Lagos last week.
Akpata said the NBA will explore legal redress for the dishonesty and violation of contract terms displayed by Antoche Limited and its CEO, after the association has backlisted the company from further engagement by the lawyers’ body.
Antoche Limited, which claims on its website to be supplier of “corporate, promotional personalized, special occasion gifts” was accused by Akpata to be “dishonest” in its dealing with the Nigerian lawyers’ umbrella body.
In a missive received by Nigerian Sketch, copies of which was sent to all NBA members, Akpata said “In a bid to ensure that our members receive the best value for money and in consonance with the NBA-AGC Conference theme of “BOLD TRANSITIONS”, we engaged the services of a general merchants and trading company, Antoche Limited to supply high quality bags to our members. Based on previous experience, we placed orders for a total of 13,000 bags – more than enough for the registered in-person delegates.”
The former NBA president went on to narrate how Antoche failed to meet the standard required by the association, both in quality and quantity. He said the company also failed to meet the agreed deadline for supply.
He said he regretted the inconvenience caused to NBA members and apologised for the “glitch in the area of collection of conference materials (particularly the bags) when a percentage of the conference delegates (estimated to be about 20% of those physically present) did not receive their conference bags in good time, and therefore had their conference experience severely hampered.”
He referred to the incident as an “embarrassment” and explained what really happened.
According to him, his administration did not engage Antoche Limited out of personal relationship, but because he received a corporate gift from another organization which he said was qualitative, and he was desirous of getting similar quality for the NBA-AGC.
He claimed that the NBA engaged Antoche four months ahead of the AGC, and agreed with it to supply the materials at least one month to the conference opening date. He also claimed that “On our part, we ensured that we did everything possible to prevent delay, including paying over 75% of the agreed cost for the supply before the start of the conference.”
Mr Akpata however expressed his disappointment at dishonest manner he said the company handled the contract, saying “As things turned out, we subsequently realised that we were dealing with a less than honest vendor.
“Firstly, the supplier began with endless excuses for their inability to supply the bags as and when due. After a while, they informed the TCCP that all the bags were now in-country and stored at a warehouse pending delivery to the agreed drop off point. This turned out to be false.”
“Secondly, contrary to the agreement and despite repeated follow up, the company supplied only approximately 5,350 bags on the eve of conference while insisting erroneously that they had supplied 8,000 bags. After repeated checks, the supplier finally admitted that it had not supplied 8,000 bags and conceded that not all the bags had arrived from the country of importation.
“In the course of distributing the bags on Monday 22nd August 2022, the TCCP realised that Martha Okopi and her company had taken advantage of the rush to supply over 1,000 bags that did not meet the standards and specifications agreed with the company. The price differential between the bags that we ordered and off-specification bags that were supplied was nearly 50%. The TCCP therefore had no choice but to reject them. It was at this point that the TCCP took the decision to pause the distribution of bags and to ensure that the vendor delivers the correct bags.
“On Tuesday 23rd August 2022, using our goodwill, we were able to secure the release of additional 3,500 bags from the custody of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company and the Nigeria Customs Service where the bags were being kept due to the supplier’s failure or delay in paying import duties. It was in the process of attempting to offload these bags and distribute them to our members, that we witnessed the unfortunate and disgraceful scenes where several lawyers broke into the registration point, vandalised properties and carted away most of the available conference bags and materials.
“The supplier was present throughout the melee and witnessed first-hand what we predicted would happen if our members did not get their bags.
“Yet, when the TCCP paid an unannounced visit to the location where the supplier was branding the bags around 3am on Wednesday 24th August 2022, we discovered that the supplier was branding very inferior backpack (even less inferior to the ones rejected) ostensibly in a bid to hide them under the bags that it was contracted to supply.
“We have taken a decision to not only blacklist Antoche Limited and its proprietors as contractors to the NBA, but to exercise our legal rights against them to the fullest extent possible.
Nigerian Sketch contacted Antoche Limited through the company’s given email address and phone number on Saturday but has not received any response as of the time this story was published.
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