Kunle Ogunba is the counsel to Ecobank Nigeria in the dispute between it and Honeywell, but an April 7, 2016, petition by Honeywell means things are no longer the same for the founder of Kunle Ogunba & Associates, an insolvency forte LP with offices in Dolphin Estate Ikoyi, Lagos, and Abuja.
On January 11, 2018, the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee severely sanctioned Ogunba for professional misconduct in relation to his handling of the court cases, withdrawing from him the rank of senior advocate of Nigeria and all other privileges attached to the rank.
Trouble for him began on April 7, 2016, via a five-page petition addressed to the chairman of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee also known as the Body of Benchers; Honeywell alleges a serious misconduct against Ogunba and noted in particular “abuse of court process.”
In the petition, Honeywell said, “we believe that the actions of Ogunba are in complete disregard of the Rule of Law and an abuse of court process. As set out above, Ogunba on behalf of Ecobank, deliberately instituted a multiplicity of actions on the same dispute, facts, grounds and between the same parties.
“It is obvious that it is Ecobank’s intention through Ogunba to harass, embarrass and disrupt the business of the Honeywell Group. The damaging effect of Ecobank’s numerous mischievous suits and wrongly obtained orders is enormous and cannot be quantified. In particular, Honeywell Flour Mills plc with an asset base of N68 billion, an annual revenue of about N55 billion and over 5,000 employees and several distributors was subject to unfair and harsh restrictions as a result of Ogunba’s mischievous suits and wrongly obtained orders until the said orders were rightfully set aside by the Court of Appeal.”
Concluding, Honeywell said, “in view of the critical role of the judiciary in preserving the sanctity of the law and in light of the facts set out above, we respectfully urge you to conduct an investigation into Ogunba’s conduct with respect to this dispute and to take such disciplinary actions as are necessary in line with Section 11 of the Legal Practitioners Act (CAP L11, LFN 2004) to ensure that the integrity of the legal profession is preserved.”
Hadiza Mustapha, chief registrar of the Supreme Court and secretary of the Privileges Committee issued a statement informing the public that the committee had at an emergency on September 15, 2017, noted that the matter of the alleged misconduct levelled against Ogunba was tabled and decided.
According to her, “this is to further notify the general public that after a thorough investigation of the petition by the sub-committee set up by the legal practitioners’ privileges committee at which the respondent (Ogunba) was given fair hearing, it was decided that the petition is meritorious. “Consequently, the legal practitioners’ privileges committee at its 129th plenary meeting have withdrawn the rank of senior advocate of Nigeria from Kunle Ogunba Esq and all other privileges attached to the rank forthwith.”