Again, NBA asks Wole Olanipekun to recuse self as BoB chairman

Wole Olanipekun

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has again called on Wole Olanipekun (SAN) to recuse himself as chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB) pending a probe of allegation of professional misconduct in his chamber involving his former employee Adekunbi Ogunde.

This is the second time in four months that the NBA is making such call after the immediate past NBA president Olumide Akpata did same.

Akpata had called for the investigation of Olanipekun and Co. Chambers to ascertain the level of involvement of the chamber in the professional misconduct of Ms Ogunde who tried to steal a client of Ajumogobia and Okeke for Olanipekun’s law firm.

Just hours before the December call to bar on Tuesday, NBA president Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) wrote to Olanipekun, calling on him to step aside and allow the vice chairman of the BoB, former Supreme Court Justice, Mary Peter-Odili (retd) to preside at Tuesday’s event.

The letter dated December 4, 2022 read in part, “Mr Chairman, I did not mince words about the devastating effect of that email on our noble profession of law and by virtue of the strategic position of this Body in showcasing the crème-de-la-crème of the legal profession in Nigeria, this Body must acquit itself of any complicity, albeit after the fact, in any act of professional misconduct.”

Maikyau added that going by the circumstances and the need for an urgent remedial action, “I adopt the letter by my immediate predecessor-in-office dated July 22, 2022 and call for its immediate consideration.

“I also humbly call on the Chairman to immediately yield to the Vice Chairman of this Body – Hon. Justice Mary Peter Odili, JSC, Rtd., to preside over the Call to Bar Ceremony scheduled for 6 and 7 December 2022.

“We owe the younger generation of not only lawyers but Nigerians honest and sincere mentorship. To allow the status quo to remain in spite the colossal damage that has been done to the conscience of this nation – the legal profession, is to abdicate our responsibility to the nation.”

According to Maikyau, the call for recusal was predicated on the need to salvage the body and by extension the judiciary which has been in a bad light since the revelation of an email written by Ogunde.

According to the NBA chairman, there are many voices that should have been heard on the matter but were not heard.

Maikyau claimed that since his assumption of office as president of the NBA, he has been expressing concerns over the negative impact of the email by Ogunde (as with so many other actions of our colleagues) on the legal profession in Nigeria.

“I specifically referred to the email and the matters arising therefrom and said, it is important to emphasise that how these matters are eventually resolved by the LPDC and the Court, will go a long way in determining the continued relevance of the Bar, the confidence in which the Nigerian people will hold the legal profession and the eventual freedom which Nigeria will or will not enjoy.

“Put differently, the resolution of these matters one way or the other, will determine whether members of the legal profession in Nigeria either individually or through the instrumentality of the NBA, will be in position to provide the required leadership for the recovery, reformation and repositioning of Nigeria, to bring about the freedom we all need,” he said.