By Dipo Olowookere
Seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) and six other lawyers have been appointed by Aiteo Group and Benedict Peters, the Executive Vice Chairman of the oil firm.
This followed a recent appointment of international law firms to lead the global effort to address legal and political-based issues surrounding Aiteo Group and Mr Peters.
The Nigerian team is led by Mr Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Mr Kanu Agabi (SAN), Mr Akin Olujinmi (SAN), Mr Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Mr Paul Usoro (SAN), Mr Rotimi Ogunesi (SAN) and A U Mustapha (SAN).
Others lawyers include Ebenezer Obeya, Chief Andrew Oru, Mrs Boma Alabi, Messrs Chidi Nobis-Elendu, Emeka Ozoani and Joseph Nwatu.
It was noted that the scope of the work to be undertaken by the team will span the breadth of contentious legal work.
It is understood, specifically, that one of its early mandates is to review defamatory publications commonly referred to as “open source” materials in which Aiteo and Peters have been featured in the last few years and to redress these fabricated insinuations by all available means including court actions, a process which appears to have already started.
Leader of the team, Mr Olanipekun, who is described as Nigeria’s Avant-Garde lawyer, is referred to as of Nigeria’s leading trial lawyer.
Mr Kanu Agabi, an accomplished litigator, served Nigeria twice as Attorney General as did Mr Akin Olujinmi whose core practice is also litigation.
Mr Mike Ozekhome’s reputation as one of Nigeria’s foremost Constitutional Law and Human Rights advocates draws from a lifelong career of fighting oppression and injustice through courts and social advocacy.
Mr Paul Usoro is a nationally acclaimed litigation and transaction expert whose core areas span the gamut of commercial law practice. Excellent all-rounders Ogunesi (of the stable of Abdullahi Ibrahim, SAN, also a former Attorney General of the Federation) and Mustapha make up the team of Senior Advocates.
Others in the team include Security law expert Ebenezer Obeya, dual qualified and former President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association Boma Alabi as well as the combative Andrew Oru.
Announcing these appointments, Andrew Onyearu, Aiteo Group Executive Director and General Counsel said “… The Group’s belief in the Rule of Law and the legal processes in Nigeria require engagement with both commitment and premium resources.
“Recently, our conviction in the infallibility of our judicial processes continues to be vindicated by judicial pronouncements deprecating the unjustified calumnious attacks on our business and personal outlook. Our respect for this process mandates that those who advocate positions on our behalf possess and demonstrate the type of world-class credentials that our lawyers clearly possess.”
He further observed that “…at the fulcrum of this stance is that desire to ensure that the course of justice is charted with the utmost sense of application, responsibility and expertise”.
Quite significantly, he states that “…the Group has been adversely affected by a litany of unsustainable unlawful developments affecting both reputational and commercial integrity in a manner that has negatively impacted its operations.
“The Group can no longer allow this situation to continue and as such, has resolved to take steps to protect all its legal interests.
“Recent positive – and ground breaking – outcomes from judicial interventions that we have achieved serve as clear pointers about the direction that we are now pursuing.
“Increasing the successful utilization of the judicial process in areas where we have been wronged will be the main objective of the team we have now put together.”
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