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Alleged Misconduct: Wole Olanipekun’s Partner, Kunbi Ogunde, Goes On Leave

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A file photo of Mr Wole Olanipekun.
Amidst the fiery debate over the call by the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA) asking Chief Wole Olanipekun, the Chairman of the Body of Benchers(BoB) to recuse himself from office, the partner, Kunbi Ogunde who is at the center of it all has expressed her decision to take a leave of absence from legal practise. 
About a month ago, Ogunde, a partner in the law firm of Wole Olanipekun and Co., had admitted that she sent an email to an oil company, Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd to solicit a brief that was being handled by Ajumogobia and Okeke, the law firm of another SAN, Odein Ajumogobia.
The brief was related to the ongoing $130 million case at the Rivers State High Court brought by the Rivers State government.
She has come under heavy criticisms for this with the NBA filing a petition against her with the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, LPDC.
In her press release dated August 3 and made available to the media today, Ogunde stated that she took the decision after due consultations with her family, her law firm and friends.
She explained that she had found herself at the centre of “every main collateral issue” that had arisen out of her email to SAIPEM, hence the decision to take a leave of absence from legal practice.
According to her she would use the time of her absence “to get involved in community and social work pro bono, with a few selected NGOs as well as undergo necessary courses that could equip her better in dealing with professional and life issues.”
While acknowledging that Wole Olanipekun & Co had taken concrete steps to ameliorate the effect of the email by way of discipline, education, reform, and rehabilitation,  she said “the firm did not believe that its actions should be for the attention of the media.”
Further commenting on the impact of the entire episode on her life, she said,  “It has not only affected me psychologically but also Wole Olanipekun & Co and my family. It has bred bad blood and, to my great pain, thoroughly embarrassed our Firm’s Founder, the innocent and dignified Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, OFR and as well as everyone else at the firm”.
She concludes by saying that she “will return to legal practice after some time, in consultation with my parents, senior colleagues and well-wishers.
“This statement is issued to enable me move to the next stage of my life. I will no longer be issuing any public statement.
I thank all those who have helped me to pass through this very trying period, particularly my parents, partners and associates of Wole Olanipekun & Co., my friends and my parents’ friends”.
Read her full statement below:
“RE: MY EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE OF 20TH JUNE, 2022 AND SUBSEQUENT EVENTS”.
“The email I sent to SAIPEM on 20th June 2022 has, for several weeks, become the subject of discussion, debate and diatribe among lawyers and the general public on various social media platforms.
“My public statement issued on 27th June, 2022, which was aimed at expressing remorse for the anguish the said email caused to Ajumogobia & Okeke, my Firm, Wole Olanipekun & Co., and my parents and also to debunk the wrong conclusions drawn by many lawyers that the partners and/or associates at the firm knew about or consented to the content or delivery of my email did not also achieve the purpose in the opinion of some people.
“Since I issued that public statement, i have read in the social media  a complaint filed against me at the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee by the First Vice-President of the NBA and the letter written to my Firm’s Founding Partner, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, OFR that he should recuse  himself from his position as the Chairman of the Body of Benchers.
“I cannot deny the fact that I am at the centre of every main or collateral issue that has arisen out of the said email. It may appear as if neither Wole Olanipekun & Co nor me has taken any concrete step to ameliorate the effect of the email by way of discipline, education, reform and rehabilitation concerning me. I wish to state that the firm took such steps but did not believe that its actions should be for the attention of the media.
“Unfortunately, the matter has now become rather complicated and has not only affected me psychologically, but also Wole Olanipekun & Co and my family. It has bred bad blood and, to my great pain, thoroughly embarrassed our Firm’s Founder, the innocent and dignified Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, OFR and as well as the Firm.
“As the one through whom all these have arisen, I have consulted with my family and the Firm and after a deep and thorough examination of all the facets of this hydra-headed problem, I have decided to take the following steps:
“1. I will take a leave of absence from legal practice and get involved in community and social work pro bono, with a few selected NGOs.
“2. I will also during this time undergo necessary courses to equip myself better in dealing with professional and life issues.
“3. I will return to legal practice after some time, in consultation with my parents, senior colleagues and well-wishers.
“This statement is issued to to enable me move to the next stage of my life. I will no longer be issuing any public statement.
“I thank all those who have helped me to pass through this very trying period of my life, particularly my parents, partners and associates of Wole Olanipekun & Co, my friends and my parents’ friends.
“God bless you all.”
Adekunbi Ogunde

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