The Body of Benchers (BoB) has explained why its chairman, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) did not recuse himself from conducting the induction of 4,711 new lawyers into the profession.
In a widely circulated letter, President of the NBA, Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), had asked Olanipekun to recuse himself from the Call to Bar ceremony following the ethical controversy generated by the email soliciting to hijack the brief of Henry Ajumogobia (SAN) and SAIPEM Oil Contracting Ltd with the Rivers State Government by a partner in the chambers of Olanipekun and Co., Adekunbi Ogunde.
Despite the letter, Olanipekun presided over the ceremony, while the executive of the NBA boycotted the event in protest.
But in a statement by its secretary, Daniel Tela on Friday, the BoB said the NBA president’s letter arrived at its headquarters late, therefore, its contents were not discussed in the December 5 meeting of the association as most members did not have the letter.
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He said the letter, which was addressed personally to its chairman, was not on the agenda of the meeting, which was fixed on November 14, adding that the contents had been published on social media platforms before the office received it at 9.32 am on December 5, hence it was not ripe for discussion.
“In spite of all the comments and contributions of members, the chairman still passionately pleaded that the matter is taken, and made reference to a previous letter written in July 2022 on the eve of the Call to Bar ceremony,” he said.
“Majority of the members were of the view that the chairman drops his insistence that the matter be conclusively decided, bearing in mind, several factors including the fact that majority of the members did not receive the email, coupled with the fact that the Call to Bar subject was too important and central to the body and the content of the letter was not such that could be taken under the AOB.”
While frowning at the use of social media for the forwarding of sensitive official documents, the body promised to give the chairman time for proper consideration of the contents of the letter.
“It was, therefore, resolved that the matter be taken at the emergency meeting of the Body scheduled to take place in January 2023 at a date to be communicated to members.”