Barring any unforeseen hitches, respected Bar Leader and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) First Vice President, Mrs. Funke Adekoya SAN will tomorrow be endorsed as the Vice Chairman of the elite Body of Benchers.

CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report that the NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN has written to the Body of Benchers informing it of the nomination of Adekoya by NBA as its preferred candidate for the post of Vice Chairman. This is a fallout of the NBA National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held last week in Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State.

The quarterly meeting of the benchers which is scheduled to hold tomorrow at its headquarters in Abuja will also witness a change of baton between the outgoing Chairman of the body, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN and current Vice Chairman, retired Justice Mary Ukaego Odili.

The nomination of Adekoya, a Life Bencher, may have put spanner in the works for a bloc within the body which is allegedly pushing the candidacy of prominent Bar Leader, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN. Awomolo is reputed as the most active surviving Life Bencher.

CITY LAWYER gathered from an impeccable source that Olanipekun may have tacitly mooted Awomolo’s candidacy when he suggested during plenary that the post of Vice Chairman is traditionally reserved for the ‘oldest surviving Life Bencher.’

However, the former NBA President, who is widely regarded as the go-to lawyer in election petition matters, has been engaged in a fierce dog-fight with the NBA leadership over a controversial letter by his partner, Ms Adekunbi Ogunde bordering on alleged solicitation.

Sources who are familiar with the matter told CITY LAWYER that key stakeholders within the Bar felt that Awomolo had not sufficiently defended the interests of the Bar at the Body of Benchers to earn the confidence and support of the NBA leadership and members.

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report cited a complaint by former Minister of Energy and Petroleum ministries, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia SAN over an email from Ogunde, a Partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co, allegedly soliciting to take over a brief his law firm was handling for SAIPEM SPA. Following his demand for an apology, Wole Olanipekun & Co apologized for the debacle and disowned the Partner. NBA has since filed a petition against the embattled senior lawyer at the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC).

In the letter dated 27th March, 2023 and addressed to the Secretary of the Body of Benchers, Maikyau wrote: “I am delighted to inform you that the National Executive Council of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA-NEC), at its meeting held on 23 March 2023, in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, unanimously approved the nomination of Mrs Funke Adekoya, SAN (Life Bencher) as the NBA representative for the position of Vice Chairman of the Body of Benchers upon the exit of the current Chairman, Chief Wole Olanipekun, OFR, CFR, SAN. A copy of the NBA-NEC resolution is attached for your reference.

“The nomination is in recognition of her impeccable record, exemplary conduct, and contributions to the development of the legal profession in Nigeria. NBA-NEC acknowledged the invaluable role she has played as a quintessential Bar leader who is always committed to raising the standard of legal practice and uniting the Bar. A copy of her Curriculum Vitae is attached.

“Kindly bring this nomination to the attention of the Chairman and members of the Body.”

Titled “NOMINATION OF MRS FUNKE ADEKOYA, SAN (LIFE BENCHER) AS NBA REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE POSITION OF VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE BODY OF BENCHERS,” the letter was copied to all BoB members. It was gathered that former NBA President, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN was also endorsed as a reserve candidate for the position, even as Maikyau was mandated by NBA-NEC to nominate any other Bar Leader in the event that the two candidates are unavailable or not endorsed by the benchers.

CITY LAWYER recalls that both the immediate past NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata and Maikyau had stridently demanded that Olanipekun “step aside” from the post, arguing that the conduct of his partner had brought odium to the legal profession.

But the body instead passed a vote of confidence on Olanipekun at its last quarterly meeting. At the meeting attended by three former chief justices of Nigeria including Justice Mahmud Mohammed, Justice Salisu Modibo Alfa Belgore, and Justice Walter Onnoghen, Awomolo commended Olanipekun as a highly successful lawyer on several fronts, urging the benchers to pass a confidence vote on him.

Meanwhile, a “send forth” dinner is being organized by the Body of Benchers in honour of Olanipekun. The event holds tomorrow evening at the body’s headquarters.

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