Malabu Oil Case: Team of SANs Rise in Defence of Olanipekun

Steve Aya

A formidable team of Senior Advocates of Nigeria have risen in defence of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN alleging that he has been maligned by an online medium, The People’s Gazette. 

In the publication, the SANs alleged that the magazine targeted Chief Olanipekun, disparaging “the name and person of our esteemed leader, Chief Wole Olanipekun, OFR, CFR, SAN in respect of Charge No.: FCT/1-1C/CR/151/2020 FRN v MOHAMMED ADOKE, SAN & 6 ORS wherein he led four  other Senior Advocates of Nigeria for the 2nd Defendant – (Alhaji Abubakar A. Aliyu)”.

The SANs further said in the statement that “A well-considered ruling of 77 pages on the No Case Submission, made by each of the Defendants, was delivered by the learned trial Judge, Kutigi J on 28th March, 2024, after which the learned trial Judge discharged all the Defendants on the respective counts filed against them. 

“Be it noted by the general public that contrary to the very vexatious publication by the Peoples Gazette, the erudite ruling of the learned trial Judge was not based on any concession purportedly made by the Prosecution to the No Case Submission of any of the parties, rather, it was rooted in the substance and quality of evidence produced by the Prosecution, which was elaborately and painstakingly analysed by the Honourable Judge.

“In the said wicked publication, based on uninformed and dubious sources, heinous allegations were made against the person of Chief Wole Olanipekun, OFR, CFR, SAN a Doyen of the Nigerian Bar. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have bothered to respond to this handiwork of mischief makers, however, for the sake of the innocent public that have been fed with this toxic falsehood, we need to put the record straight.

“Contrary to the content of the dubious and criminal publication that Chief Wole Olanipekun, OFR, CFR, SAN and Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN attempted to compromise Offem Uket, Esq., the Prosecutor in the matter, the point must be made that Chief Wole Olanipekun, OFR, CFR, SAN did not represent Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN in this case, as he (Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN) was represented by a team of six Senior Advocates, led by the respected Chief Kanu Agabi, CON, SAN, a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. Each of the other Defendants was equally represented by seasoned Senior Advocates of Nigeria and experienced Legal Practitioners. Three of the Defendants are multi-national companies, For the avoidance of any doubt, the Defendants in the charge arc: Mohammad Bello Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar, Rasky Gbinigie, Malabo Oil and Gas Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited. The trial lasted for four years, in the course of which the Prosecution sought adjournments eight times.

“That out of the 40 counts filed against all the Defendants, only one count related to our client, and which said count, with all sense of modesty was weak and bound to fail, for diverse reasons. Out of the ten witnesses who testified for the Prosecution, nine of them stated in clear terms that they did not know our client.” The statement also said: “Thus, we did not bother to cross-examine them. The Investigating Police Officer who only referred to our client, confirmed under cross-examination that the N300 million was given by our client (the 2nd Defendant) to Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN as a refund of the purchase price for a failed property transaction, and not bribe.

“The malicious publication is meant to malign our Leader in this case, a Leader, who, by the grace of God Almighty, is also a foremost Leader of the Nigerian Bar. We cannot fold our hands and watch any person or group pull down the name that our Leader has built over the years, through hard work, self-discipline and the fear of God.

“We are not unaware that envy and malice are part of the driving and ulterior forces propelling and motivating the wicked authors of this publication, to descend this dirty and low. We are also not unmindful of the fact that, in the course of rendering his professional duties and services to his clients, our Leader, just like any other leading Lawyer of his pedigree, has stepped on the toes of some powerful people, who are always looking out to seek revenge.

“Without prejudice to any other action or step which our Leader may deem fit to take in the circumstances, we hereby call on the Nigeria Police Force to investigate this sordid and criminal publication, make their findings public, and apply the full force of the law accordingly. This is imperative in the interest of all concerned, and the Nigerian public. From the summary of the case presented herein, it is clear that neither the lazy authors of the odious publication nor their sponsors cared to either source or investigate the truth of the matter, or read the well-considered ruling of the Court, but were only interested in maligning the character and reputation of the learned Silk. They mischievously brought his name to their publication, so that it could attract attention and for clout chasing,

“For the purpose of clarity, the legal team of our client (2nd Defendant) comprised: Chief Wole Olanipekun, OFR, CFR, SAN; Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi, CON, SAN; Chief Ifcdayo A. Adedipe, SAN; Dr J.Y. Musa, SAN and Olalekan Ojo, SAN. These tested Senior Advocates led several members of the Outer Bar for the 2nd Defendant”, said the statement signed by Dr J.Y. Musa, SAN and Olalekan Ojo, SAN.

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