Chairman of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Innocent Chukwuma has urged the Court of Appeal in Awka to disqualify Wole Olanipekun (SAN) as a counsel to GTB on the grounds of a statement by Olanipekun’s law firm.
Chukwuma stated that as the chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB) Olanipekun compromises any court in which he appears in favour of his clients.
Olanipekun has been enmeshed in controversy since July when a former partner in his firm, Adekunbi Ogunde, sent an email to a company SAIPEM, claiming that the senior lawyer uses his office as BoB chairman to influence judges and get favourable judgements for his clients. SAIPEM was at the time a client of Ajumogobia and Okeke law firm.
A statement on Tuesday by the spokesperson of Innoson, Cornel Osigwe, highlighted that the BoB is the highest legal body in the Nigerian legal profession made of the Supreme Court justices, presiding justices of the Courts of Appeal, and chief judges of the State High Courts.
“In a Motion on notice filed in the court by the Counsel to Innoson, Prof J.N. Mbadugha SAN of McCarthy Mbadugha & Co praying for an order of the Honorable Court to disqualify Chief Olanipekun, SAN in his capacity as a legal practitioner or counsel from signing, filing, instituting or prosecuting Appeal No. CA/E/288/2013 between the tier one bank vs Innoson Nigeria Limited,” the statement said.
“More so the counsel to Innoson further sought the prayers of the court for an order setting aside all processes signed and filled by the Counsel/Legal Practitioner of or to the bank on the same appeal on the grounds that the processes are incompetent.
“Lastly, an order striking out the bank’s Motion on Notice, dated 26 October 2018 prepared by Olanipekun, for want of competence, he also signed an amended notice of appeal.
“The grounds upon which the motion is brought are: 1. Wole Olanipekun & Co in its email published that: “Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN is currently the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, which is the highest ruling body in the Nigerian Legal Profession made up of the Supreme Court Judges, presiding Justices of the Court of Appeal and Chief Judges of the State High Court. In other words, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN OFR, is the head of the entire legal profession in Nigeria. Presence of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN in the matter will significantly switch things in favor of the party that engaged him in the matter.
“Appearance or continued appearances of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN in this matter will jeopardize or imperil the integrity of this Honorable Court.
“The appearance or continued appearance of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN in this matter will compromise the integrity of the court or give the impression that the court is compromised and that no justice will be done by the court.
“The involvement of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN in this Appeal for GTB will create an appearance of impropriety or such a fashion that will imperil the Court’s — Court of Appeal — status of legitimacy.
“The legitimacy of the court — Court of Appeal — needs to be maintained,” the statement added.