Art and Culture

Lawyers Criticise NBA President’s Letter to Olanipekun

todayAugust 3, 2022

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Wale Igbintade

Prominent lawyers have faulted the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata, over his handling of the issue involving a past president of the NBA and chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), over the infraction of a partner in his chamber.

A partner in Olanipekun’s firm, Ms Adekunbi Ogunde, had solicited a brief from SAIPEM Contracting Nigeria Ltd, which had already engaged the law firm of Henry Ajumogobia (SAN).

The NBA deemed her action a violation of the rule of practice and dragged Ogunde before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC).

The association also demanded that Olanipekun should step down from his current position as the chair of the benchers and requested the LPDC to determine his possible culpability and that of other partners of the law firm.

The firm had distanced itself from Ogunde’s conduct.

Commenting on the NBA’s letter to Olanipekun and handling of the matter, Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), Chief Bennbella Anachebe (SAN), and Chief Samuel Okutepa (SAN) said Akpata could have exhibited better judgment.

“You don’t ask anybody to take steps on an issue he is ignorant of. I believe that the president of the Bar should have contacted Chief Olanipekun even though the subject matter of the crisis is worrisome to some of us,” said Ahamba.

Okutepa said the letter was not in the best tradition of “how things are done irrespective of what anybody feels about it.”

He explained that Olanipekun was a past NBA president and a superior member of the Bar.

“If I were to be in the position of the president of the Nigerian Bar Association, I won’t write such a letter. I would go to meet with Chief Wole Olanipekun or involve senior members of the Bar, elders, past presidents, and then meet with him and have a discussion because whether anybody likes it or not, he is the leader of the Bar.”

According to Anichebe, the letter was “not supposed to have been written.”

“I have it on good authority that Chief Olanipekun has not sighted a copy of the letter, and the same has been released to the press. The fact that a junior in the Chamber of Chief Olanipekun wrote a letter and the content was considered to have violated the rules of practice does not justify asking Chief Olanipekun to resign,” Anichebe noted.

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todayAugust 3, 2022

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