A partner in the law firm of Wole Olanipekun & Co., Kunbi Ogunde is to take a leave of absence from legal practice following the controversy over her recent letter purportedly requesting for a brief from an oil company, SAIPEM.
In her public message made available to the media, Ogunde stated she took the decision after due consultations with her family, her law firm and friends.
Adekunbi has been attacked in the media, especially on social media after an email she sent to SAIPEM on 20th June 2022. After the issue become public, she issued a public statement aimed at addressing what she described as the wrong conclusions drawn from the email.
However, in a statement on Wednesday, Adekunbi 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 the legal practice.
According to her she would use the time of her absence “to undergo necessary courses that could equip her better in dealing with professional and life issues.”
While acknowledging that Wole Olanipekun & Co had taken a concrete step 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.”
According to her, she has taken her decision to for now to get “involved in community and social work pro bono, with a few selected NGOs and return to legal practice after some time, in consultation with her parents, senior colleagues, and well-wishers.”
It could be recalled that after the mail became public, she came under fire from the bar and media.
Subsequently, a complaint was filed against her at the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, LPDC by the First Vice-President of the NBA.
A letter was also written to her firm’s founding partner, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, to recuse himself from his position as the Chairman of the Body of Benchers.
Adekunbi issued a public statement on 27th June 2022, where she expressed remorse for the anguish the said email caused to Ajumogobia & Okeke, her Firm, Wole Olanipekun & Co., and her parents.
She also insisted that the partners and/or associates at the firm knew nothing about or consented to the content or delivery of her email to SAIPEM, noting that she acted alone in the whole matter.
The issue became awry when Justice Reform Project, JRP, which Oluwemimo Ogunde (SAN), her father was a member distanced himself from the call for the resignation of Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) as Chairman of the Body of Benchers by the Forum of 20 Foremost Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
Other members of the forum also issued statements to dissociate themselves from the resignation call.
Read her full statement below:
“MY EMAIL OF 20TH JUNE 2022 TO SAIPEM.
“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.”