Akpata And Olanipekun (SAN) Photo By Barrister NG.com
Wole Olanipekun’s Membership Of BoB, Where Akpata Got It Wrong, By Johnson Odion Esezoobo Esq
I commend our President, Olumide Akpata, for the courage not only in taking up the issue of discipline of a very senior lawyer like Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) but also in writing him to recuse himself from the Body of Benchers (BoB).
However, the President ought to have fought the battle to the end by attending that meeting and raising, or ensuring that the issue was raised. Knowing Nigerians for what they are, a people who can compromise truth for selfish reasons, to think that the issue would be raised without the President himself being there to initiate it was naive.
This is a group of people who, under the leadership of Asiwaju Awomolo, (SAN) strove to prevent a non-Senior Advocate of Nigeria from being President of the NBA. And this is a group of people who want the NBA subordinated to it.
What the President has done is like a General leading his troops to the battle field and retreating after having fired the first shot.
We all know that Nigeria is an enigma, the people, irrespective of their status in society, do not consider self respect. Otherwise, how do we explain Senior Citizens calling Akpata privately to condemn what Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) did leaving the impression that they were ready to discuss the matter at the meeting but keeping mute at the meeting, waiting for who would bell the cat? Indeed, we are a shame, our generation is a shame.
We have nothing to bequeath to coming generations. We have just witnessed what happened in the UK where ministers resigned over the Prime Minister’s poor action and invariably forced the Prime Minister to resign. Self respect demands that Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) should not allow the matter of whether or not he should recuse himself to be a debate. He should just have stepped down without any prompting and reflect on this ugly situation he has created where lawyers are calling for a review of all the cases he did and won in the past. It is a matter that calls for a sober reflection: how did I get here? What is involved is bigger than any single individual. He, like all the other members of BoB ought to have considered the larger issue of Nigeria as a nation that we are talking about. No one individual can be bigger, or be more important, than the legal profession or the Country Nigeria.
This is what makes it indeed shameful that Justices of the Supreme Court and other distinguished members of the BoB did not raise the issue. Where is our honour, what is noble any more in the noble profession if we cannot tell the truth, even in the interest of our larger society? It would have been better for Olumide Akpata to attend that meeting and face to face with these otherwise distinguished men and Honourable Justices of the Supreme Court, whom this nation has given so much to by the rare honour of serving at that level, tell them that they have failed us by betraying the trust reposed in them. What has played out here again is the lack of patriotism in us. We are selfish and full of hypocrisy. It is most unpatriotic for any Nigerian who is a senior citizen like the persons listed by the President as present at the meeting to do this.
I am not surprised that Paul Usoro (SAN) did not raise the issue. He led the Bar from the dock, hiding under the cloak of not having been found guilty by a Court of law in the serious allegation of money laundering. So, he won’t see anything wrong in Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) sitting in judgment even when ethical issues are being raised against him.
In summary, Olu Akpata as President of the NBA could have done better by taking the battle to its logical conclusion. No man fights from outside and expects to win. Let it be known that if this issue is not properly settled, it the entire legal profession, and by that the judiciary, that is in the limelight.
May God have mercy on us.
Barrister Johnson Odion Esezoobo Can Be Reached Via +234 803 320 0595