The raging controversy surrounding an email from Kunbi Ogunde a partner at Wole Olanipekun & Co law firm prospecting the client of another law firm has led Ogunde to proceed on indefinite leave from the practice of law.
Ogunde, a partner in the law firm of Wole Olanipekun and Co., had admitted that she sent an email to an oil company, Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd to solicit a brief that was already 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.
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She has come under heavy criticism for this with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) filing a petition against her with the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, LPDC.
In addition, the NBA called on Chief Wole Olanipekun, the Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB) to recuse himself from the office to allow for a complete investigation.
In her press release dated August 3 and made available to the media today, Ogunde stated that she took the decision after due consultations with her family, her law firm and friends.
She explained that she had found herself at the centre of “every main collateral issue” that had arisen out of her email to SAIPEM, hence the decision to take a leave of absence from legal practice.
According to her she would use the time of her absence “to get involved in the community and social work pro bono, with a few selected NGOs as well as undergo necessary courses that could equip her better in dealing with professional and life issues.”
While acknowledging that Wole Olanipekun & Co had taken concrete steps to ameliorate the effect of the email by way of discipline, education, reform, and rehabilitation, she said “the firm did not believe that its actions should be for the attention of the media.”
Further commenting on the impact of the entire episode on her life, she said, “It has not only affected me psychologically but also Wole Olanipekun & Co and my family. It has bred bad blood and, to my great pain, thoroughly embarrassed our Firm’s Founder, the innocent and dignified Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, OFR and as well as everyone else at the firm”.
She concludes by saying that she “will return to legal practice after some time, in consultation with my parents, senior colleagues and well-wishers.
“This statement is issued to enable me to move to the next stage of my life. I will no longer be issuing any public statements.
I thank all those who have helped me to pass through this very trying period, particularly my parents, partners and associates of Wole Olanipekun & Co., my friends and my parent’s friends” she stated.