Tuesday, June 28, 2022 5:11 pm
Wole Olanipekun & Co, has dissociated the firm and its founding father, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN from a letter written by a junior partner in the firm, Adekunmbi Ogunde to Francesca Caio of SAIPEM, soliciting to handle the firm’s $130 million claims against Rivers State Government.
In a disclaimer signed by two associates of the firm, James Adesulu, and Quam Owolabi Bisiriyu, and addressed to Mr Caio, the firm, as published by The Gavel, stated that the letter was written without the instruction of Chief Olanipekun as the founding father, and his son, Bode, also a senior advocate.
Miss Ogunde who joined the 42- year old law firm less than seven months ago, had written a letter to Caio, a senior official of the oil company soliciting for the brief, more than two months after both SAIPEM and Rivers State government had reached an out of court settlement on the brief.
But the firm stated in the disclaimer to Caio that “the 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. It has never been the practice of our law firm to solicit for cases or clientele, and we shall never indulge ourselves in this practice and trend”.
The writer, Miss Ogunde also confirmed that she wrote the letter without the consent of the principal partners of the firm. “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 before 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”.
She stated further: “I was admitted into the partnership of the firm in December 2021, to supervise and oversee the firm’s corporate & commercial practice, having worked on various transactions in that area for over 12 years. I have never really played an active role in the Nigerian litigation space, and am largely unfamiliar with a lot of its inner intricacies. My limited knowledge of litigation is mainly based on the experience which I garnered during my early years of practice, and my occasional appearance in court to watch some of the finest, brilliant and refined minds in the legal profession – my father, Mr Oluwemimo Ogunde SAN, the Founding Partner of the firm, Chief Olanipekun SAN, OFR, and other distinguished persons in the legal profession, display their impeccable and almost-flawless oratory and legal skills. I am therefore not conversant, to any great extent, with what goes on in the litigation circles – at least as far as legal matters/cases in court are concerned”.
The Managing Partner of the firm, Mr Bode Olanipekun SAN also in a letter to SAIPEM’s lawyer, Odein Ajumogobia SAN, stated the position of the Wole Olanipekun chambers.
Bode Olanipekun SAN, Managing Partner, Wole Olanipekun &Co
The letter reads:
26 June 2022
Mr. Henry O. Ajumogobia, OFR, SAN
Ajumogobia & Okeke
2nd Floor, Sterling Towers
20 Marina, Lagos.
Dear Learned Silk,
RE: USD 130 MILLION CLAIM IN NIGERIA – RIVERS STATE GOVERNMENT VS. SAIPEM SPA, SAIPEM CONTRACTING NIGERIA LIMITED & ORS
Kindly refer to the above subject, particularly, the disclaimer issued by our firm on 24th June 2022 immediately after the events necessitating the disclaimer was brought to the firm’s attention.
This letter serves as a further reiteration that the contents of the disclaimer represent the position of Wole Olanipekun & Co. in respect of the unauthorized correspondence that warranted the disclaimer. I was in Court outside Lagos on 24th June 2022 when your email of the same date notifying our Chief Wole Olanipekun, OFR, SAN of the unauthorized correspondence was brought to my attention. I immediately put several calls through to your phone that rang free. I also sent you WhatsApp messages apologizing for the correspondence and describing it as “unauthorized, unfortunate and scandalous”. I am aware our firm’s founder, with whom you share a significant history, also reached out to you to apologize. I subsequently reached out to other partners of your firm to proffer our firm’s profound disappointment and apologies and was made to realize you were out of Nigeria.
In the same manner that you subscribe to very high standards of ethics and decency, such standards are non-negotiable basics and uncompromisable for our firm. Indeed, in our firm’s 42 years of history, we have never solicited for client engagement in the manner of the unauthorized correspondence, and nor do we give clients assurance(s) of judicial outcomes. We are also bold to assert that, there has also not been a single instance where we have attempted to influence judicial outcomes by improper means, influence peddling or means outside our representations in court.
In the circumstance, once again, kindly take this letter as reconfirmation of our disclaimer of 24th June 2022, both in terms of content and sincerity of purpose; as well as our immense respect for your person and the venerated law firm of Ajumogobia & Okeke.
Bode Olanipekun, SAN