The attention of the Governing Council of Egbe Amofin O’odua: (The Yoruba Lawyers’ Forum) has been drawn to the calls on Chief Wole Olanipekun,SAN to recuse himself as the Chairman of Body of Benchers by some commentators and groups in the Legal profession.
As the foremost body of Yoruba Lawyers association in the country, we have refrained from talking to the press or making any official statement on the unwarranted call by some members of our common platform, Nigerian Bar Association, on Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN to step down as Chairman of Body of Benchers for the alleged infraction of our Rules of Professional Conduct by a Partner in his Law Firm. This is even with the apparent underlining witch hunt and delibrate attempt to smear the name of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN by subjecting him to a calculated public opinion trial.
Sadly, we recall that the agitation to subvert the established and settled procedure for the elevation to
the Chairman of the Body of Benchers which favoured Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN was attempted by some senior lawyers, but for the principled, objective and pure professional stand taken by some prominent Lawyers and respected Justices on this issue, we would have been tempted to believe that the initial opposition to Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN becoming the Chairman of the Body of Benchers and this unjustified call for him to step down as the Chairman of the Body of Benchers is an ethnic agenda.
The pertinent question here is what is the basis of punishing Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN by asking him to step down as the Chairman of Body of Benchers for the alleged misconduct of another in the face of the provisions of Sections 2 (1) and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act which had been interpreted to draw a distinction between a law firm and the individual Legal Practitioner making up the law firm? Though, the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee is in law, a Committee of the Body of Benchers, it is however an independent standing Committee whose Chairman and members had been appointed before Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN became the Chairman of the Body of Benchers.
Further to the above, whatever decision or direction taken by the Legal Practitioner’s Disciplinary Committee is not in anyway subject to the control or influence of the Body of Benchers. Appeal against the decision or direction of Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee goes to the Supreme Court and not the Body of Benchers. Most importantly, the petition having been filed before the LPDC, the matter is now subjudice and should not be subjected to further public commentary. The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee should be allowed to do its job.
Those trying to pull down Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN should realize that in reality, they are casting serious aspersions on the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee by sending a wrong signal that the Committee cannot be trusted to take fair, independent and honest decisions or directions on disciplinary matters that come before it.
This is no doubt a vote of no confidence on the membership of the committee.
In the circumstance, we humbly enjoin us all to desist from making further comments on this issue until its final determination by the LPDC.
As lawyers we must not allow trial by social media or newspapers’ or trial by television’ or ‘trial by any medium rather than the court of law.
Long Live NBA
Long Live Egbe Amofin Oodua.
Aare Isiaka Abiola Olagunju,SAN
Chairman, Governing Council , Egbe Amofin O’odua: ( The Yoruba Lawyers’ Forum)