Olanipekun’s rebranding of judiciary

Chief Wole Olanipekun, (SAN) is a veteran of many wars. As student leader, he fought against Gowon who at the end prayed for him. As NBA president he confronted Chief Obasanjo and came out unscathed. As a resourceful lawyer, he has secured victory after victory for his clients usually the high heeled in our society. For him water has no enemy. He approaches all cases with passion because according to him “We as lawyers must appreciate our calling as a covenant with God.”

In this regard, On November 21, 2011, he defended Bola Tinubu, the ACN national leader before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. “I led his very formidable team to ask the Tribunal to discharge and acquit him. By 2.30 pm same day, I was in the courtroom of the Court of Appeal in the same Abuja to as part of defence team of the Jonathan election petition”. This did not stop him for also defending Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) governor in Nasarawa against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

It is therefore not surprising that Chief Wole Olanipekun has brought his usual passion to bear on his current defence of Ifeanyi Ubah against Access Bank. He is capitalising on Access Bank’s decision to file “documents before a London High Court, wherein the bank alleged that part of the reasons it avoided instituting an action against Capital Oil and its Managing Director, Ifeanyi Ubah in Nigeria was because the Nigerian judiciary was corrupt.”

Such action, the chief insisted, amount to the denigration of Nigerian judiciary and dragging its image in the mud in the United Kingdom. Contrary to Access Bank’s deposition before the London court, no one person according to the chief can have “the judiciary in his pocket” in Nigeria.

The judge, Justice Abang in a bid to uphold the integrity of the judiciary and the judicial process, agreed with him and ruled that “by supplying information which scandalised the Nigerian judiciary, the bank’s Corporate Counsel, Fatai Oladipo and Deji Awodein one of the bank’s Deputy General Managers were guilty of criminal contempt”. This may win a case but will unfortunately not win the battle over the minds of Nigerians who have come to see the judiciary as our major problem.

Chief Olanipekun who has indicated he is uncomfortable with the situation of things in the country, whereby “we are running people’s affairs like a game of chess” however did not see anything wrong with the judiciary. If the third tier of government has any problem at all, it is because it has been overwhelmed by those created by the executive and the legislature.

First, I am sure the outside world is amused by the chief’s attempt to exonerate the judiciary from the current problems bedevilling the nation, chief of which is corruption. In a globalised world and with the ascent of the new social media, everyone is a witness to history as it unfolds. The macabre dance between the senior members of our judiciary (SANs), some corrupt judges, thieving members of the political class, criminals as bank owners and oil fraudsters are daily documented for the world.

Besides, UK of all places is a wrong choice for a rebranding effort of our judiciary. This is a nation that has just jailed James Ibori proclaiming him ‘a thief in the state house’ along with his counsel, long after the Nigerian judiciary had found him not culpable of the same set of charges. Besides, Britain is one place where some of our judges and SANs, would have been disrobed and banned from practice for life.

A few sickening events that are currently playing out in the judiciary which make Nigeria feel like throwing up and unfortunately shared with the rest of the outside world will suffice.

Recently, after a long deafening silence in spite of calls by Nigerians that erstwhile chairman and secretary of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on fuel subsidy probe, Farouk Lawal and Boniface Emenalo, be taken to court, their very resourceful SANs, to satisfy all righteousness brought them to court where they were detained. A week later, trial Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi okayed their release.

This followed a ‘profound’ argument of the SANs that the’ ‘court should take cognizance of the fact that prior to his (Farouk) arraignment, he had ample opportunities to run away, having travelled outside the country four times since investigation into his alleged complicity in the bribery scandal began.’ Thus a man caught by video camera receiving bribe from Otedola in a sting operation master-minded by government will now attend trial from home and have the rights to attend to health issues abroad.

The globalised world is also watching with keen interest how our resourceful SANs have effortlessly secured relief and shield their high profile clients such as Mahmud Tukur, son of the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Bamanga Tukur; Mamman Ali, son of the former national chairman of PDP, Ahmadu Ali; and Abdullahi Arisekola-Alao, the son of Ibadan based businessman, Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao facing a ‘nine-count charge of conspiracy, fraud and forgery,’ of N1.8 billion from the Petroleum Support Fund.

The suit first fixed by judge Onigbanjo for November 13 and 14, 2012, for trial has again been ‘fixed for the 6th and 7th of May 2013. The defense SAN, has already persuaded judge Onigbanjo to grant his clients bail while Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao also got his impounded international passport back to enable him travel and take care of his sick son in the United States.

The prosecution of Erastus Akingbola, the former owner and Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank for an alleged stealing of N47.1 billion has dragged on for three years. This is despite his indictment by a London court which directed him to refund about N164b back to the new owners of his former bank. The case against Akingbola who had earlier been discharged in another case at the Federal High Court for what the trial judge, Justice Clement Archibong, blamed on “lack of diligent prosecution.” has according to Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana(SAN) now been ‘technically resolved in his favour’ because of the new appointment given Justice Abiru, the presiding judge.

In 2010, Cecilia Ibru accused of a 25 count charge of money laundering and mismanagement of depositors funds totaling over N160 billion, was aided by her celebrated SANs to sign a plea bargain deal. Two years after she was sentenced on 25 counts of fraud and ordered to reimburse $1.29 billion in assets and cash, Anti-Corruption Network executive secretary Otunba Dino Melaye has alleged that many properties in the United States and United Kingdom claimed to have been forfeited are still in Ibru’s custody directly or indirectly.

The SANs that negotiated on her behalf probably know where “these properties, monies and aircraft are since there was no evidence they were “deposited with the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Company (NDIC) and AMCON for onward transfer to the shareholders of Oceanic Bank”.

Corruption may be another name for the executive and the legislature. The press might have been greatly compromised according to Sonala Olumhense whose views count for much in the media, but a failed state beckons when the judiciary is turned into the last bastion of the privileged scoundrels by its SANs and some corrupt judges while lonely petty thieves or vagrants arrested for wandering spend years in prison awaiting trials. These are facts not lost on Nigerians.

0 views0 comments