Nigerian Bar Association Seeks Prosecution of Lead Barrister, Wole Olanipekun, His Associates for His Firm’s Attempt to Steal Ajumogobia’s Client Former Oil Minister
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has sought the advice of the Law Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) on whether to prosecute the Chairman of the Councillors’ Corps, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) for alleged professional misconduct.
Adekunbi Ogunde, a partner at Olanipekun law firm, had emailed SAIPEM Contracting Nigeria Ltd, one of the clients of Henry Ajumogobia, Nigeria’s lead solicitor, requesting a brief.
The Rivers State government had preferred charges against the company over allegations of $130 million fraud.
Although he knew that the law firm Henry Ajumogobia was handling the case, Ogunde had asked SAIPEM to consider hiring Olanipekun & Co.
She claimed that her firm’s senior partner, Chief Olanipekun (SAN), is close to the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal justices.
Reacting to the development in a letter to Olanipekun, Ajumogobia, a former state minister for petroleum, said the move violated key mandatory rules.
The Chairman of the Body of Benchers has since apologized to Ajumogobia, saying he never approved the email sent by Ogunde.
According to CityLawyer Magazine, Ogunde was also dragged before the disciplinary committee over the controversial email.
In a petition numbered BB/LPDC/901/2022, NBA 1st Vice President John Aikpokpo-Martins said he is requesting “on behalf of the petitioner that ADEKUNBI OGUNDE of WOLE OLANIPEKUN & CO of God’s Grace House, 5, Maple Close, Osborne Foreshore Estate Phase 11, Ikoyi, Lagos be required to respond to the allegations contained in the declaration/affidavit which accompanies this application and that such order be made as the committee sees fit.
Filed on behalf of the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigerian Bar Association and dated July 19, 2022, the petition was titled “Petition Against Adekunbi Ogunde, Esq., A Nigerian Female Lawyer Duly Called To The Nigerian Bar With Her Name On The List Of Retained Lawyers to the Supreme Court for violating the applicable rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners (Rule 1 of the CPR) by soliciting briefs and peddling the influence of the senior partner of his law firm, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, as having the ability to extra-legally influence the decisions of the Nigerian courts being the chairman of the highly distinguished body of advisers, thereby bringing the entire legal profession to domestic and international public ridicule and abhorrence.
In the Statement of Facts accompanying the application, the NBA noted that Ogunde is “expected to demonstrate and maintain a very high standard of conduct, professionalism, respect for the integrity of the court and for judicial process in the performance of its professional duties and responsibilities to clients, the legal profession and members of the general public.
The plaintiff however stated that “at some point during the month of June 2022, members of the legal profession and indeed the general public were brutally confronted with unbelievable reports on social media of a letter allegedly from of the highly esteemed and revered office of Wole. Olanipekun & Co and written by the Respondent. »
Continuing, the Applicant stated that “In the said letter, the law firm Wole Olanipekun & Co unprofessionally and surreptitiously requested a file from Saipem SPA, a known international conglomerate (knowing that another law firm was handling said case in court) and further unabashedly touted the supposed overriding influence of his firm’s senior associate, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, the current Chairman of the highly revered and distinguished Body of Advisors, and a very respected by the applicant here.”
Citing Ogunde’s letter to Mr. Francesco Ciao of Saipem SPA, the NBA said that “members of the legal profession, particularly the members of the plaintiff, have been greatly disturbed by this infamous letter which is believed to be from the one of the most successful, largest and most respected and eminent law firms in Nigeria,” adding that his hope that the allegations in the letter were “false, misleading and downright wrongdoing orchestrated by some agitators” was wiped out by letters from the law firm Wole Olanipekun & Co apologizing for and disavowing the respondent’s action.
According to the NBA, “As members of the legal profession in particular and the national and international public attempted to come to terms with what has now evidently become the most infamous letter ever written by a lawyer and/or law firm in the history of the legal profession in Nigeria, the Respondent posted a letter on social media admitting the allegations, but only sought to exonerate her law firm from the now most infamous allegations of conduct within the profession legal in Nigeria.
Justifying the filing of the petition, the association said that “the Applicant’s entire membership resulting from their comments on social media and appeals to the President of the Nigerian Bar Association have been feverishly and ardently demanding and calling on the Asking to get up”. and refer Respondent and associates of Wole Olanipekun & Co. to the Law Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for serious and serious misconduct which has brought unprecedented shame, ridicule, opprobrium and hatred to the entire community. Administration of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession in Nigeria. ”
The NBA then urged the LPDC “to immediately initiate the disciplinary process and prosecute ADEKUNBI OGUNDE Esq. for violation of the sacred provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct, in particular Rule 1 thereof.
The NBA administrators also sensationally sought the advice of LPDC to “consider whether the partners of Wole Olanipekun & Co. are not likely to be sanctioned by this august body, given that the respondent has apparent authority to act as a partner, and has actually acted for and on behalf of said business.