NBA Asks Body Of Benchers Chairman Olanipekun To Recuse Self Over Partners’ Alleged Professional Misconduct
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NBA Asks Body Of Benchers Chairman Olanipekun To Recuse Self Over Partners’ Alleged Professional Misconduct

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has asked a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Wole Olanipekun, to recuse himself from his position as Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BOB) over alleged professional misconduct.

 

 

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In a letter dated July 22 and signed by the NBA President, Olumide Akpata, the legal body said the call became necessary for the emplacement of interim leadership, in order to allow the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) to investigate an alleged act of professional misconduct by one of Olanipekun’s partners.

 

 

 

The letter which was addressed to Olanipekun was titled, Re: Petition Against Ms Adekunbi Ogunde By The Nig Bar Association For Alleged Misconduct.

 

 

 

About a month ago, Ogunde, a partner in the law firm of Wole Olanipekun and Co., admitted that she sent an email to Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd to solicit a brief that was being handled by Ajumogobia and Okeke, the law firm of another SAN, Odein Ajumogobia.

 

 

 

The brief was related to the ongoing $130 million case at the Rivers State High Court brought by the Rivers State government.

 

 

 

In soliciting for the brief, Ogunde wrote to one Mr Caio Francesco of Saipem, claiming that her law firm, Wole Olanipekeun & Co., would be more influential in helping Saipem avert a potentially huge payout to the Rivers State government.

 

 

 

She would later blame this on youthful exuberance. Her firm also sent out a disclaimer that Ogunde’s letter was sent out without their authority.

 

 

 

In a letter dated July 19, the NBA wrote a petition against Ogunde recommending that she be required to answer for the allegations of professional misconduct.

 

 

 

The NBA President swiftly followed up on Friday with a call for Olanipekun to step aside to allow for due process and for the LPDC to carry out its duties without the BOB chairman coming under undue suspicion of impartiality.

 

 

 

“Against the backdrop of your partnership relationship with Ms Ogunde, vis-a-vis the prosecution of the petition by the LPDC, it is clear, albeit unfortunate, that you have been put in a situation where your continued occupancy of the office during this period would conflict, or be reasonably interpreted to conflict, with or influence the processes of the LPDC, by fair-minded observers and right-thinking members of the public, both within and outside our profession.

 

 

 

“By reason of your close professional ties and involvement with Ms Ogunde, it would be an infraction of the salutary principles of natural justice for the said petition to be heard by the LPDC while you continue as chairman of the BOB, of which the LPDC is a committee.

 

 

 

“Consequent upon the above, I am constrained to invite you to recuse yourself from the chairmanship of the BOB henceforth, and to allow for the emplacement of an interim leader of the BOB, in order to enable the LPDC to carry out this particular assignment, amongst others, without coming under an undue suspicion of impartiality.

 

 

 

“As a beacon of rule of law and due process, the NBA must continue to demonstrate that it is committed to the vision of its founding fathers, especially in its internal affairs.

 

 

 

“This situation, therefore, puts our foundational ethos as an Association on the line, and I trust that as a former president of the NBA and a very respected senior member of the Bar, you will take the honourable path of stepping aside in the interest of justice, fairness, and posterity.

 

 

 

“I am pained that I have to make this call, but in the circumstance, it is in the best interest of our association and of the legal profession in Nigeria.”

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