More pressure is being piled on the Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB), Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN to step aside from the seat as the former President of Lagos Court of Arbitration, Mr. Yemi Candide-Johnson SAN has asked him to resign.
This is coming against the backdrop of a similar call today by the influential Eastern Bar Forum (EBF).
Meanwhile, erstwhile Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) Prosecutor, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa SAN has berated the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata for his approach in the matter.
Candide-Johnson, who is a leading justice sector reform advocate and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company, said in an interview that “In the face of public allegations of egregious professional misconduct, I would expect him to defend the profession first before himself and accordingly to resign from the office that leads the profession. It’s a matter of responsibility and of honour.”
His words: “Wole Olanipekun is a leading Nigerian lawyer and recognized by many important offices as a leader of the profession. It is of the utmost importance that such an individual always conducts himself and regulates his practice in a manner that is exemplary.
“Any implication that he acts below optimum standards makes his position, especially as chairman of an important professional organ untenable. In the face of public allegations of egregious professional misconduct, I would expect him to defend the profession first before himself and accordingly to resign from the office that leads the profession. It’s a matter of responsibility and of honour.
“The appearance of corruption by itself is deeply damaging. My own view generally is that nobody is above the law and the bane of our profession to this time has been that the most senior are often the most badly behaved. It is intolerable and unsustainable. The law and its due and proper administration is more important than any individual.”
Okutepa lampooned Akpata for allegedly going public with the demand for Olanipekun to recuse himself from the seat, saying the BoB helmsman deserved a better treatment.
His words: “The letter was not in the best tradition of how things are done irrespective of what anybody feels about it. Chief Wole Olanipekun was a past President of the Nigerian Bar Association and whether we like it or not, he is a superior member of the bar and if I were to be in the position of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, I won’t write such letter. I would go to meet with Chief Wole Olanipekun or involve senior members of the Bar, elders, past Presidents, and then meet with him and have discussion because whether anybody likes it or not, he is the leader of the bar.
“To do a letter to him and before he gets it, it is on social media, it is a very terrible thing that he ought not to do. You may not like Wole Olanipekun as a person but the institution that we all belong to must be preserved by the decorum we accord to ourselves.
“I’m not saying Wole Olanipekun is above disciplinary process and I am not going to go to any argument as to whether or not what happened is correct or not correct, but there are better and respectful way of dealing with issues that affect the profession.”
CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report cited a searing complaint by an apparently embittered senior lawyer and former Minister of Energy and Petroleum ministries, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia SAN where he referenced an email to the oil company from Ogunde and demanded an apology from the law firm. The firm apologized for the debacle and disowned the Partner.
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