AJUMOGOBIA/OLANIPEKUN ROW: ‘I ACTED IN GOOD FAITH,’ SAYS PARTNER
Adekunbi Ogunde, the senior lawyer in the centre of an allegation of influence peddling and professional misconduct levied by former Minister for Energy and Petroleum ministries, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia SAN, has expressed “great perplexity and utter bewilderment” at the “grossly inaccurate headlines and comments” that have trailed the controversy.
In a response to the CITY LAWYER report where Ajumogobia expressed “extreme disappointment and utter disillusionment” at the alleged attempt to hijack a $130 Million SAIPEM Contracting Nigeria Ltd brief from his law firm, Ajumogobia & Okeke, Ogunde, a Partner in Olanipekun’s law firm, blamed “exuberance” for the fiasco, adding that she sent the controversial email to SAIPEM “without the consent or knowledge of either the founding partner or the managing partner of the firm, Mr Bode Olanipekun SAN.”
CITY LAWYER recalls that her law firm had disowned her on the matter, saying that she acted “without the instruction, authority, mandate, approval, or consent of Wole Olanipekun & Co.” Olanipekun had also personally apologized to Ajumogobia, saying he held the former minister in high esteem.
Ogunde who described herself as having been “consistently commended” for her “ability to analyze complex issues and proffer solutions that are commercially viable,” wrote: “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.
“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 admitted making “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.
“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.”
She noted that apart from the apology issued by the firm, her father, a senior advocate, also reached out to Ajumogobia to apologise on her behalf.
Below is the full text of her statement.
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