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Wole Olanipekun: Meet lawyer behind Tinubu, Kano NNPP S’Court win

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Biography

Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, CFR, born on November 18, 1951, is a prominent Nigerian lawyer, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Hailing from Ikere Ekiti, Ekiti State, he has made significant contributions to the legal profession.

Chief Wole recently got the spotlight again after leading the legal counsel of President Tinubu and Governor Abba Yusuf to victory at the Supreme court.

 

Education

Olanipekun attended Amonye Grammar School, Ikere Ekiti, from 1965 to 1969, where he excelled academically and served as the senior prefect. Subsequently, he moved to Ilesa Grammar School in 1970 and obtained the Higher School Certificate in 1971. 

His journey in law commenced at the University of Lagos, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Law and conducted his national youth service in Ilorin.

 

Professional Career

After completing the Nigerian Law School in Lagos in 1976, Olanipekun was called to the Nigerian Bar. 

He began his legal career as a junior counsel at Messrs Oniyangi & Co Ilorin from 1977 to 1979. 

In 1980, he established his law firm, Messrs Wole Olanipekun & Co, becoming its Principal Partner. 

In July 1991, he attained the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Concurrently, he served as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Ondo State in 1991.

In 2002, Olanipekun was elected as the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, serving until 2004. 

He has held various positions, including membership in the National Judicial Council, Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, Council of Legal Education, and General Council of the Bar. 

Recognized for his contributions, he became a Life Bencher in 2007 and currently chairs the Body of Benchers.

Olanipekun’s commitment extends to education, as evidenced by his role as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Ibadan (2004-2006) and later as Pro-Chancellor of Ajayi Crowther University.

 

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Personal Life

Chief Wole Olanipekun is married to Erelu Omo-ale Olanipekun, and they have four children. His two sons, Dr. Dapo Olanipekun and Bode Olanipekun, are also Senior Advocates of Nigeria.

 

Memberships and Awards

Olanipekun holds memberships in the Nigerian Bar Association, International Bar Association, and Nigerian Body of Benchers. 

He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and has received numerous awards.

In 2003, he was appointed Vice President of the Pan African Lawyers Union.

In October 2022, he was honored with the Nigerian national award of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic.

 

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Notable Cases

Chief Olanipekun’s legal prowess shines through in various landmark cases. He played a crucial role in defending President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory against Atiku Abubakar at the tribunal in 2019. 

Notably, he challenged the unconstitutional sacking of Vice President Atiku Abubakar by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007, leading to a Supreme Court nullification.

His achievements in election petitions, including cases like Inakoju v. Adeleke and the retrieval of mandates for Governors Adams Oshiomole, Kayode Fayemi, Rashidi Ladoja and Olusegun Mimiko, have solidified his reputation.

Olanipekun also took charge in representing Bola Ahmed Tinubu against African Independent Television. A documentary titled “Unmasking the Real Tinubu: The Lion of Bourdillon” portrayed various properties and companies across Lagos, alleging ownership by Tinubu, dubbed “Nigeria’s biggest landlord.” The legal battle concluded with AIT issuing a public apology to Bola Tinubu.

He also acted as lead counsel, for President Bola Tinubu at the tribunal against Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar after the 2023 general election. The outcome at the Supreme Court favored President Tinubu.

Wole Olanipekun, also served as the Lead Counsel defending Peter Mbah at the Enugu State Tribunal. He argued for the dismissal of Mr. Mbah’s NYSC Certificate forgery case. He contended that an NYSC certificate is not a prerequisite for someone to be a governor. The case was however dismissed by the supreme.

Additionally, he was engaged by the sacked Kano State governor Abba Yusuf to reclaim his mandate. The supreme court pronounced Yusuf duly elected governor of Kano State on 12th of January 2023 with Olanipekun as the lead counsel.

 

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Literary Contributions

Beyond his legal practice, Olanipekun is an accomplished writer, having authored over 250 papers on various topics. His book, “The Voice of Law and Social Change,” published in two volumes, reflects his deep insights.

 

Recognition and Honorary Degrees

In recognition of his contributions, Olanipekun received a Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa from the University of Ibadan in 2014. 

In 2021, he was conferred with a Doctor of Letters by Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State.

 

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