Fiery senior lawyer and former Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) prosecutor, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa SAN has distanced himself from a statement by the Justice Reform Project (JRP) asking Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN to quit his office as Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB).

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, the outspoken Bar Leader said he “left JRP long ago when I perceived the way things were being done without consultations.”

Leading senior lawyer and Chairman of JRP Governing Board, Mrs. Funke Adekoya SAN had told CITY LAWYER yesterday that both Okutepa and former Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Olasupo Shasore left the group “on issues of personal principle.”

He also berated “eminent members of the Bar” for chastising him over the recusal saga, adding that he never called Olanipekun a “superior member of the Bar.”

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report cited a 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 SAIPEM from Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, a Partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co, and demanded an apology from the law firm. The firm apologized for the debacle and disowned the Partner.

The NBA has filed a petition at the LPDC where it not only demanded sanctions against Ms. Ogunde, a Partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co, for alleged solicitation of briefs from Saipem SPA, but invited the Committee to “consider whether the Partners of the Firm of Wole Olanipekun & Co. are not liable to be disciplined by this august body seeing that the Respondent has the ostensible authority to act as a Partner and indeed acted for and on behalf of the said Firm.” Olanipekun is the Founding Partner of the law firm. The LPDC is a committee of the Body of Benchers.

Below is a full text of the statement.

My attention has been drawn to an unsigned statement said to have been issued by Justice Reform Projects, JRP in which my name was mentioned.

While I have no quarrel with whatever informed the reasons for the statement, I want to say categorically that I am no more a member of JRP. I left JRP long ago when I perceived the way things were being done without consultations. Prof Ojukwu SAN and many members of JRP can testify to this. Those who issued the statement should have been kind enough to have indicated that I have long withdrawn my membership of JRP.

My name is being used by different persons for different reasons on this alleged issue of professional misconduct. Many have attributed to me on social media what I did not say. For instance I did not describe Chief Olanipekun SAN as Suprior member of the Bar and couldn’t have said so yet eminent members of the Bar have gone to the media to pour venoms on me for what I did not say.

I will not support or shield any member of the legal profession who breaches or who is alleged to have breached our rules of professional Conduct in the legal profession, no matter his or her status in the legal profession, but nobody should use my name in any statement I did not authorize or attributes to me what I did not say, no matter how noble the intention may be.

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