Lagos photographer, mentor trade blame over N1m camera lens

A documentary photographer, Joshua Akinrinola, has accused his mentor, Eti-Inyene Akpan, of refusing to release his camera lens valued at N1.1m.

It was gathered that Akpan, who is also a photographer, borrowed the lens to cover a church programme.

The 25-year-old said his mentor promised to return the device a few days after the event.

He lamented that Akpan had, however, refused to return the lens since July 2021, when he took it, adding that efforts to retrieve his property had proved abortive.

Akinrinola said, “The name of the lens is 70 to 200 F2.8 and it costs about N1.1m now. He (Akpan) has been my mentor since 2019. He reached out to me to borrow my lens for a conference in his church in Lagos.

“I sent the lens to him through public transport on July 2, 2021, and he confirmed receiving it. The conference ended on July 11 and I was supposed to get the lens on July 12 or 13, but I didn’t hear from him. Suddenly, I stopped seeing his WhatsApp status and it was unusual.

“I called and messaged him, but he didn’t respond. I kept on disturbing him. But the confusing part was when I reported him to his acquaintance, Ebenezer, who informed me that Akpan said he did not know me.”

Akinrinola said Ebenezer told him that Akpan claimed he didn’t borrow anything from him.

“Surprisingly, on September 1, Akpan called to apologize and said his phone got lost and that was why he didn’t have my phone number and that Ebenezer gave him my phone number. He said the lens was stolen and promised to get me another one. I recorded the conversation.

“I sent the receipt of the lens to him and sent him an e-mail since he said I could only get across to him through his mail and he replied, saying he did not know me.

“I have been mentally weak; there were many deals that I lost because the clients wanted to hire me because of that type of lens; some clients ended up cutting down my price. I have a series of people who wanted to rent the lens from me but couldn’t and to rent the lens per day is over N25,000. He has been threatening to deal with me for demanding my lens,” Akinrinola added.

Contacted, Akpan confirmed collecting the lens from Akinrinola, but said he returned it.

“I acknowledged collecting the lens from him, and I also acknowledged that I returned the lens to him myself,” he said.

When asked for proof that he returned the lens, he said, “I might not have any physical proof that I handed the lens to him myself because I dealt with him as a brother and it would be foolish of me to record when I was returning it to him. That was my mistake.”

However, in a recorded conversation between the duo on September 1, 2021, Akpan was heard informing Akinrinola that the lens was stolen.

“My in-law was robbed; his car was stolen. He was stabbed in the head and just finished surgery. Don’t bother about your stuff, my camera body was in the car, but it is insured. I don’t know if your lens was insured.

“What I want to do is to see if I can swap the expenses with the insurance company, but we are trying to do the paperwork. I told Ebenezer to send me your number to call you,” he stated.

Confronted with this evidence, Akpan said, “I never informed him that the lens was stolen. Thank God it was a phone call, so when the telecommunications (company) releases that conversation, he would be shocked. The lens issue is one side, but my voice recording is another issue entirely.”

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