Innoson asks Court to disqualify Olanipekun as counsel to GTB

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The Chairman/CEO of Innoson Vehicles has approached the Court of Appeal, Awka Division, to seek an order of the Court disqualifying Chief Wole Olamipekun, SAN as a Counsel to GTB.

Innocent Chukwuma, the CEO of the first indigenous vehicle manufacturing company wants Olanipekun disqualified in Appeal no. CA/E/288/2013 on the grounds of a statement by Wole Olanipekun’s law firm that as the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, he compromises any court in Nigeria in which he appears in, in favour of his clients.

The Body of Benchers is the highest legal body in the Nigerian Legal Profession, made of the Supreme Court Judges, presiding Justices of the Court of Appeal, and Chief Judges of the State High Court.

In a Motion on notice filed in the Court by the Counsel to Innoson, Prof J.N. Mbadugha SAN of McCarthy Mbadugha & Co, Innoson prayed for an order of the Court to disqualify Chief Olanipekun, SAN, in his capacity as a legal practitioner or counsel from signing, filing, instituting or prosecuting Appeal No. CA/E/288/2013 between Guaranty Trust Bank PLC vs Innoson Nigeria Limited.

More so, the counsel to Innoson further sought the prayers of the Court for an order setting aside all processes signed and filled by chief Wole Olanipekun SAN as Counsel/Legal Practitioner of or to GTB Plc on the same Appeal because the processes are incompetent.

He also prayed to the Court for an order striking out GTB Motion on Notice, dated 26 October 2018, prepared by Chief Wole Planipekun, SAN, for want of competence. He also signed an amended notice of Appeal.

Specifically, the motion stated that Wole Olanipekun & Co in its email published that “Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN is currently the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, which is the highest ruling body in the Nigerian Legal Profession made up of the Supreme Court Judges, presiding Justices of the Court of Appeal and Chief Judges of the State High Court. In other words, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN OFR, is the head of the entire legal profession in Nigeria”; Presence of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, will significantly switch things in favour of the party that engaged him in the matter.

“Appearance or continued appearances of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, in this matter will jeopardize or imperil the integrity of this Honorable Court. The appearance or continuous appearance of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, in this matter will compromise the integrity of the Court or give the impression that the Court is compromised and will do no justice.

“The involvement of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, in this Appeal for GTB will create an appearance of impropriety or such a fashion that will imperil the Court’s- Court of Appeal- status of legitimacy to enable the legitimacy of the Court- Court of Appeal- need to be maintained.”

Recall that Innoson had accused GTBank of stealing N560 Million from its account. It resulted in Innoson commencing suit No. FHC/AWK/139/2012 against GTBank at the Federal High Court, Awka. The Court rendered judgment in favour of Innoson on 16 May 2013 in the sum of N4.7 billion with a 22% interest rate until it is fully paid.

GTBank appealed against the judgment in Appeal No: CA/E/288/2013 at the Court of Appeal Enugu Division. On 9 December 2014, the Court of Appeal ordered that GTBank pay the judgment debt, which then stood at about N6Billion, to the Court’s Deputy Registrar for onward payment into an interest-yielding account. Chief Wole Olanipekun is the Counsel to GTB in this Appeal at the Court of Appeal.

In an email sent on 20 June 2022 to SAIPEM SPA by Wole Olanipekun & Co, the author of the email stated that “It will also reveal that the presence of our lead partner, Chief Olanipekun SAN, OFR, in the matter will significantly switch things in favour of SAIPEM. Chief Olanipekun SAN, OFR, is currently the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, which is the highest legal body in the Nigerian Legal Profession, made of the Supreme Court Judges, presiding Justices of the Court of Appeal, and Chief Judges of the State High Courts, including the Rivers State High Court.

Innoson contends that Olanipekun is the head of the entire legal profession in Nigeria and has also helped other multinationals, such as in the famous cases of MTN tax dispute, Shell Petroleum, Equinor (former Statoil) dispute, etc., avoid huge payouts in more complexes, sensitive and highly-political matters”.

“This boastful claim made to SAIPEM SPA by Wole Olanipekun & Co has generated a huge outcry and condemnation an,d made headlines in several media and this has propelled the Chairman/CEO of Innoson Vehicles to approach the Court to pray for an order of the Honorable Court to disqualify Chief Olanipekun, SAN in his capacity as a legal practitioner or counsel to GTB.”