Adekunbi Ogunde, a partner in the law firm of Chief Wole Olanipekun, Olanipekun & Co., Chairman of the Body of Benchers, has admitted sending an email to SAIPEM Contracting Nigeria Ltd, soliciting a brief.
She, however, blamed it on ignorance.
SaharaReporters earlier reported that Ogunde sent an email to Saipem SA and Saipem Nigeria Limited in an attempt to ‘steal’ a client from another law firm, Ajumogobia & Okeke, claiming his firm’s leading partner, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) is close to Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges.
Odein Ajumogobia, a former Minister of State for Petroleum, however, demanded an apology from Olanipekun & Co., describing the move to steal one of his clients as professional.
Adekunbi had written a letter titled, “USD 130million claim in Nigeria – Rivers State Government vs Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited and Ors,’ to Saipem Nigeria Limited’.
In the letter addressed to Mr Francesco Caio of Saipem, Adekunmi attempted to take the Saipem case from the law firm of Ajumogobia & Okeke for his law firm Olanipekun & Co.
Reacting to the issue in a statement made available to SaharaReporters, Ogunde whose responsibility is to secure business for the firm, admitted to sending the email “without the consent or knowledge of either the founding partner or the managing partner of the firm, Mr Bode Olanipekun SAN”.
She said, “It was based on this commitment, and perhaps with great enthusiasm and exuberance, that I wrote an email to Saipem on 20th June, 2022, without the consent or knowledge of either the Founding Partner or the Managing Partner of the firm, Mr. Bode Olanipekun SAN. I found out about the Saipem matter through an online article, and I unilaterally reached out to Saipem about the said matter, which unknown to me, was no longer before the court.
“My limited knowledge about the litigation space came to bare because had I consulted with other persons conversant with the recent happenings in the litigation circles, I would have been informed that the matter between Saipem and the Rivers State Government had been settled out of court about two (2) months prior to my email of 20th June, 2022. Therefore, as at the time of writing the said email, there was no such pending matter before the court.
“Further, I made certain careless representations and inferences in my email of 20th June, 2022, that could have been easily interpreted to mean that the firm could help secure some advantage in the court for Saipem.”
“I must therefore retract such representations and state categorically that, since joining the law firm in December 2021, I have never seen any person at the firm (including its Founding and Managing Partners), engage in any unwholesome or unethical practice, in the manner that will suggest that the firm can somehow ‘influence’ judicial outcomes by improper means,” she added.
Olanipekun & Co. earlier apologised to Ajumogobia and Ajumogobia & Okeke firm, saying the letter was sent without the knowledge or consent of the management of the law firm.
The firm said it would take internal measures “to address and redress this very unfortunate situation”.
It had added, “Our Principal, without being immodest, has never been known to indulge himself in the type of practice portrayed in the letter under reference. He is a very sober and humble person, and we believe learned Silk, H. Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, OFR can attest to this. He stands for the best in the profession, in terms of ethics, honour, integrity, discipline, character and carriage.”