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Olanipekun disowns ‘attempt to hijack brief’ from Ajumogobia’s firm in influence peddling row

Olanipekun disowns ‘attempt to hijack brief’ from Ajumogobia’s firm in influence peddling row
June 26
23:59 2022

Wole Olanipekun, chairman of the Body of Benchers, has disowned a lawyer in his firm over an attempt to hijack a client of Henry Ajumogobia, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Adekunbi Ogunde, a partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co, was said to have written a letter addressed to SAIPEM Contracting Nigeria Ltd — Ajumogobia’s client — soliciting for a brief handled by him.

The company is currently standing trial on allegations of $130 million fraud at the Rivers high court brought by the Rivers state government against Saipem SPA, Saipem Nigeria, and others.

In the said letter addressed to Francesco Caio, SAIPEM CEO, Ogunde asked the company to consider hiring the law firm to handle the case.



“I believe that you need a more influential lawyer/law firm to prevent a potential huge payout to the Rivers State Government and without a doubt, I believe that my law firm, Wole Olanipekun & Co., can help in this regard,” the lawyer said.

Despite being aware that the law firm of Ajumogobia is handling the matter, Ogunde said Olanipekun & Co has more “influence” with judges across courts.


“We are aware that another law firm is currently in the matter but you will agree that highly-sensitive and political matters require more influence. We are happy to work with the current lawyers to achieve the desired results,” she said.

“Chief Olanipekun SAN, OFR,  in the matter will significantly switch things in favour of SAIPEM. Chief Olanipekun SAN, OFR is currently the chairman of the Body of Benchers, which is the highest ruling body in the Nigerian legal profession, made up of supreme court judges, presiding justices of the court of appeal and chief judges of all state high courts, including the Rivers state high court.”

Reacting to the development in a letter addressed to Olanipekun, Ajumogobia said the move “could not be more egregious in its breach of this essential mandatory rule, especially in its acknowledgement that the defendant companies had already retained counsel”.

“That I and my firm of Ajumogobia & Okeke were retained in the matter, was a matter of public record and was personally known to you and your firm, since you had asked me about the matter during our Unilag Law Faculty Alumni dinner at Harbour point in February,” he said.



In another letter dated June 24, Olanipekun apologised to Ajumogobia, adding that he did not authorise the attempt to hijack his client.

“The letter was brought to our attention by H. Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, OFR, a respected colleague of ours, and a close ally of our principal, chief Wole Olanipekun, OFR, SAN. We appreciate the candor of the learned senior advocate and his thoughtfulness in bringing the letter to our attention promptly,” the letter reads.

“First, let it be known without any equivocation that the said letter was written without the instruction, authority, mandate, approval or consent of Wole Olanipekun & Co.; it was also not brought to our attention by the writer.


“Second, it has never been the practice of our law firm to solicit for cases or clientele, and we shall never indulge ourselves in this disturbing practice and trend.

“In effect, the writer of the letter under reference was on her own, and we do wholly dissociate ourselves from the letter and its contents: while internal measures would immediately be taken to address and redress this very unfortunate situation.


“The writer never discussed her intention to write the letter or showed it to any person or counsel in the office, either before or after sending it to Mr. Caio.

“Put in other words, the letter is hereby retracted unequivocally: in spite of the fact that it was unauthorized and done without our permission, authority or consent.


“We unreservedly apologize to the highly respected H. Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, OFR, and the entire law firm of Ajumogobia & Okeke for the embarrassment which the letter might have caused them; but let it be known that the letter has also caused us a lot of embarrassment as well.”


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