*Says Wole Olanipekun & Co. Does Not Engage in Any Unethical Practice
Adekunbi Ogunde, a partner in the law firm of Wole Olanipekun, chairman of the Body of Benchers, has admitted sending an email to SAIPEM Contracting Nigeria Ltd soliciting a brief.
The Rivers state government had preferred charges against the company over allegations of $130 million fraud.
Despite being aware that the law firm of Henry Ajumogobia, a senior advocate of Nigeria, is handling the matter, Ogunde asked SAIPEM to consider hiring Olanipekun & Co, adding that the BOB chairman has more “influence” with judges across all courts.
Reacting to the development in a letter addressed to Olanipekun, Ajumogobia said the move was in breach of essential mandatory rules.
Olanipekun has since apologised to Ajumogobia stating that he never approved the email sent by Ogunde.
Addressing the issue in a press statement, Ogunde whose responsibility is to secure business for the firm, admitted to sending the email “without the consent or knowledge of either the founding partner or the managing partner of the firm, Mr Bode Olanipekun SAN”.
“I found out about the Saipem matter through an online article, and I unilaterally reached out to Saipem about the said matter, which unknown to me, was no longer before the court,” she said.
“My limited knowledge about the litigation space came to bare because had I consulted with other persons conversant with the recent happenings in the litigation circles, I would have been informed that the matter between Saipem and the Rivers State Government had been settled out of court about two (2) months prior to my email of 20th June 2022. Therefore, as at the time of writing the said email, there was no such pending matter before the court.”
She also retracted her statement where she claimed Olanipekun had influence with judges.
“I made certain careless representations and inferences in my email of 20th June 2022, that could have been easily interpreted to mean that the firm could help secure some advantage in the court for Saipem,” she said.
“I must therefore retract such representations and state categorically that, since joining the law firm in December 2021, I have never seen any person at the firm (including its founding and managing Partners), engage in any unwholesome or unethical practice, in the manner that will suggest that the firm can somehow ‘influence’ judicial outcomes by improper means.
“My email of 20th June 2022 (although done in exuberance, but in good faith and with altruism) has caused great distress, embarrassment and trauma to the people I hold and will continue to very dearly – the founding partner of the firm, chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, OFR, the managing partner of the firm, Mr. Bode Olanipekun SAN, and my dearest parents, Mr. Oluwemimo Ogunde SAN and Mrs. Yinka Ogunde.
“In order to remedy the situation, I reached out personally to H.Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, OFR, via email and WhatsApp messages sent to the learned silk on 24th June 2022, to apologize to him for this error of judgment.”
Ogunde added that apart from the apology issued by the firm, her father who is also a senior advocate, has reached out to Ajumogobia to apologise on her behalf.