Adekunbi Ogunde takes leave of absence over Saipem saga

Adekunbi Ogunde

A partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co. law firm Adekunbi Ogunde has said she will be taking a leave of absence from legal practice following the controversy around her email to Saipem on June 20, 2022.

Ogunde wrote Saipem, a client of Ajumogobia & Okeke law firm, to convince the company to have Wole Olanipekun & Co. represent it in a case worth millions of dollars.

Her action was criticised as against legal ethics. On June 27, Ogunde issued a statement, saying she regretted her action. She added that she acted on her own without the knowledge of anyone in Wole Olanipekun & Co.

Despite her efforts to correct her missteps, the Nigerian Bar Association wrote a petition to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), an arm of the Body of Benchers (BoB), asking it to probe Wole Olanipekun & Co. over the incident.

The NBA also asked Olanipekun, who is the BoB chairman, to step down from his position to enable the LPDC conduct a fair probe of his law firm.

Reacting to the developments, Ogunde said in a statement issued on Wednesday, “I cannot deny the fact that I am at the centre of every main or collateral issue that has arisen out of the said email. It may appear as if neither Wole Olanipekun & Co nor me has taken any concrete step to ameliorate the effect of the email by way of discipline, education, reform and rehabilitation concerning me. I wish to state that the firm took such steps but did not believe that its actions should be for the attention of the media.

“Unfortunately, the matter has now become rather complicated and 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 the Firm.”

Ogunde said that after consultations with her family and the law firm, she has decided to take the following steps: “I will take a leave of absence from legal practice and get involved in community and social work pro bono, with a few selected NGOs.

“I will also during this time undergo necessary courses to equip myself better in dealing with professional and life issues.

“I will return to legal practice after some time, in consultation with my parents, senior colleagues and well-wishers.

“This statement is issued to to enable me move to the next stage of my life. I will no longer be issuing any public statement.”