meet DR. AJIBADE

BABATUNDE AJIBADE, PH.D, SAN, FCIARB IN BRIEF

Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN is the Managing Partner of S. P. A. Ajibade & Co. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in December 1989 and elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria in December 2007. He was the first member of his Nigerian Law School set of 1989 to be so elevated.

Dr. Ajibade obtained an LL.B Degree from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1988. He obtained an LL.M Degree in Corporate and Commercial Law from King’s College, University of London in October 1990 and a Ph.D Degree in Private International Law from the same university in October 1996.

Dr. Ajibade is a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London, an International Practice Fellow of the International Bar Association and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, United Kingdom.

He combines the role of an advocate, a corporate/commercial solicitor, an administrator and a reformer and has excelled in each of these areas.

Dr. Ajibade is happily married with four children.

Since his admission to the Nigerian Bar in 1989, Dr. Ajibade has been engaged in active and full-time practice, save for time taken out to pursue his postgraduate education. He has extensive practice as a court-room lawyer, attaining the highest rank in that field (Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)). Several of the matters in which he has been involved have come before the highest appellate courts in Nigeria, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court and are reported in Nigerian Law Reports. He has also excelled as an ADR practitioner attaining the status of a Fellow of the Chartered institute of Arbitrators, United Kingdom. He carries behind him, extensive experience in all aspects of commercial arbitration, both domestic and international, as well as in investment treaty arbitration.

Dr. Ajibade has been involved in all aspects of corporate and commercial dispute resolution in Nigeria, and has particular expertise in litigation involving the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, banking law, intra-company shareholder disputes, as well as insolvency and insurance litigation.

Some matters and ADR proceedings Dr Ajibade has handled include:

  • Made law in the Supreme Court decision in Fasakin Foods Limited v Shosanya [2006] 10 NWLR (Prt. 987) 126, in which he was able to convince the Supreme Court that the provision of section 22(3) of the Federal High Court Act was unconstitutional;
  • Represented a client in ground breaking litigation before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in which the Republic of Ghana was found liable to the client in damages to the tune of USD$800,000.00 for breaching the client’s fundamental human rights;
  • Represented a leading Nigerian conglomerate in arbitral proceedings in the London Court of International Arbitration, in which an arbitral award in excess of USD$50,000,000 was compromised and settled based on evidence that the Sole Arbitrator had misconducted himself in the course of the proceedings;
  • Successfully defended the claim in Grosvenor Casinos Limited v Halaoui [2009] 10 NWLR, (Prt. 1149) 309 in which the claimant sought to register a judgment of the commercial court in England against the Respondent all the way till the final appeal in the Supreme Court.
  • Currently co-lead of the team of lawyers representing the families of 25 victims of the Dana Air crash that occurred in June 2012.

Dr. Ajibade also has extensive experience in corporate commercial practice and company secretarial practice and has been involved in the Nigerian capital market as solicitor in several public offers of securities as well as in mergers and acquisitions. He is a founding member of the Capital Market Solicitors Association (CMSA). The CMSA was founded by Chief Anthony Idigbe, SAN in 2001 and Dr. Ajibade, SAN was its pioneer Secretary 2001 – 2007, its Vice-Chairman 2007 – 2011 and its Chairman 2011 – 2013. He was also a member of the Rules & Regulations Sub-Committee of SEC’s Capital Markets Committee from 2002 – 2004 and its Vice-Chairman from 2004-2010.

Some of the transactions he has been involved in are:

  • Led the team that acted as solicitors to Consolidated Breweries Plc in its merger with Nigerian Breweries Plc;
  • Led the team that represented SRM Partners Limited in its acquisition of First Registrars Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of FBN Holdings Plc;
  • Represented Broad Communications in the divestment of its shareholding in Airtel Nigeria Plc;
  • Represented a Nigerian insurance brokerage company in its acquisition by and merger with a multinational insurance company;
  • Led the team that represented First Bank of Nigeria Plc in its suspended N500 Billion debt issuance programme.
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Dr. Ajibade has been appointed to the Boards of a number of high profile companies and organisations, including:

  • Vee Mobile Nigeria Limited (now Airtel Plc)
  • Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Lome, Togo
  • Fan Milk Nigeria Plc (a wholly owned subsidiary of Danone France)
  • International Chamber of Commerce, Nigeria

In his practice, Dr. Ajibade has, through God’s grace, been able to reform and grow the law firm of S. P. A. Ajibade & Co. from a family practice based in Ibadan to a corporate and commercial partnership with offices in Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja with 5 partners and several associates.

Dr. Ajibade is a founding member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Section on Business Law (SBL), and he played a significant role in setting the SBL on the course on which it is today. Following the dissolution of the leadership of the SBL by the NBA at the National Executive Committee held in Gombe in November 2010, Dr. Ajibade, SAN was a member of the SBL Council appointed by the NBA leadership in March 2011. Working together with other members of that Council, particularly the Chairman Mr. Yemi Candide-Johnson, SAN, Dr. Ajibade ensured that the appointed council was short lived. He worked tirelessly to ensure that elections were organized as quickly as possible and chaired the nominations committee, which resulted in the election of Mr. Gbenga Oyebode, MFR as the new Chairman of the SBL in January 2012.

He chaired the Committee that planned and executed the hugely successful SBL Annual Conference held in Abuja in 2016.

Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN is passionate about the legal profession and is eager to play a major role in finding lasting solutions to the challenges that plague it. The law firm he leads as Managing Partner (i.e. S. P. A. Ajibade & Co.) has, at his instance, for the past 12 years been organising an annual business luncheon. These events to which his firm commits significant resources every year, present opportunities for lawyers and other stakeholders in the justice delivery system to come together to discuss issues that affect the legal profession. Over these years, the business luncheons have addressed the following topics:

  • Globalization and the Challenges of Practicing Law as a Business – A View from the West (2008)
  • The Globalization of Legal Practice – The Challenges for Legal Education in Nigeria (2009)
  • Morality, Integrity and Ethics in the Practice of Law in Nigeria – Myth or Reality (2010)
  • The Future of Legal Practice in Nigeria – Developing and Deepening Partnerships – An Insider’s view from the Outside (2011)
  • The Future of Legal Practice in Nigeria – Specialisation and the Barrister – Solicitor Divide (2012)
  • The Future of Legal Practice in Nigeria – Achieving Judicial Excellence (2013)
  • The Future of Legal Practice in Nigeria – Eliminating Delays in Civil Justice Delivery (2014)
  • The Future of Legal Practice in Nigeria – Regulation and Discipline in Legal Practice (2015)
  • The Future of Legal Practice in Africa – An African Model for Big Law (2016)
  • Commitment to Leadership – The 50th Anniversary (2017)
  • The Administration of the Courts v The Administration of Justice – The Benefits of Drawing a Distinction (2018)
  • The Forum for the Resolution of Civil Disputes: The Courts v. Law Enforcement Agencies (2019)

Dr. Ajibade SAN’s passion for the legal profession led him and other lawyers under the auspices of the CRID-LawNet (which is an initiative of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce (LCC)) to draft an “Administration of Civil Justice Bill” which it is hoped will completely revolutionize the administration of civil justice in Nigeria when passed into law. The Bill has been enacted into law in Ekiti State and discussions are at an advanced stage with the Lagos, Ogun and Oyo State Ministries of Justice on the possible enactment of the Bill into law.

As founding secretary, vice-chairman and chairman of the CMSA, Dr. Ajibade participated in significant milestones achieved by the Association. The CMSA remains one of the foremost sector specific lawyer associations in Nigeria today and has succeeded in ensuring that the interests of lawyers engaged in the Nigerian Capital Market are recognized and adequately protected. Particularly, the CMSA ensures that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) appreciates the role of lawyers and does not marginalize lawyers in the scale of fees it stipulates from time to time for Capital Market transactions.

Dr. Ajibade has written articles and delivered presentations on different areas of law and is a well sought after public speaker.

Some of Dr. Ajibade’s articles and presentations include:

  • Shareholders’ Tactics and Remedies – A Summary of the Position under Nigerian Law – A paper prepared for the IBA Litigation Committee Conference that took place in Istanbul, Turkey between 24 – 26 April 2013.
  • Capitally Complex – An article published in the October 2013 edition of the Commercial Dispute Resolution Journal exploring the intricacies of dispute resolution within the Nigerian capital market
  • Corporate Structuring and Corporate Governance: The Implications for the Capital Market – Presentation delivered at the Governance Breakfast Session of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, Abuja Branch 10th May 2018.
  • Sovereign Immunity: Special Issues Involving State Parties – Presentation prepared for the SOAS Khartoum Arbitration in Africa Conference that took place in Khartoum Sudan on 13th February 2019.
  • The Administration of Civil Justice in Nigeria – Urgently in Need of Review – Presentation delivered to the monthly meeting of the Port-Harcourt Branch of the Nigerian Bar on 28th November 2019.

Dr. Ajibade joined the law firm of S. P. A. Ajibade & Co, whilst it was a successful solo practice based in Ibadan. He has grown it into a corporate and commercial law practice with 5 partners, several associates and 3 offices.

His administrative prowess has also been felt in the Nigerian Bar Association where he has served in various capacities at Branch and Sectional level, at the International Bar Association (IBA), at the International Chamber of Commerce’s Arbitration Commission, at the CMSA and at the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission.

Dr. Ajibade, SAN is reputed for his integrity and character. He epitomizes humility and believes that there should be mutual respect among lawyers as professional colleagues regardless of rank or seniority. He is a great advocate for professionalism and strict adherence to the Rules of Professional Conduct for the legal profession. It is therefore not surprising that he was appointed Chairman of Panel B of the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee for Lagos on 11th July 2017.

Dr. Ajibade, SAN’s career has been characterised by quiet and efficient service to the legal profession. A few instances of his involvements are listed below:

  • Member of the NBA National Executive Committee (NEC) between 2016-2018 and from 2018 till date.
  • Member, NBA Legal Services Trade Mission to the United Kingdom, 2009.
  • Council Member, NBA-SBL 2014 to 2018.
  • Member, NBA Appointed SBL Council March 2011 – January 2012.
  • Chairman, Nominations Committee, NBA-SBL, 2011.
  • Chairman, Capital Market Solicitors Association between 2011-2013.
  • Member, NBA Liberalisation of Legal Services Working Group, 2012.
  • Chairman, Law Week Planning Committee NBA, Lagos Branch, 2014.
  • Chairman, Conference Planning Committee, NBA-SBL, 2016.
  • Vice-Chairman, NBA-SBL Committee on Banking, Finance and Insolvency, 2012 – 2016.
  • Chairman, Judiciary Relations Committee, NBA Lagos, 2019 till date

Dr. Ajibade also represents the Nigerian and African legal profession in various capacities overseas. He is currently a Vice-Chairman of the IBA’s Africa Regional Forum; the Africa Liaison Officer on the IBA’s Law Firm Management Committee; and a Vice-President on the Steering Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC’s) Arbitration Committee, representing Africa.

Dr. Ajibade, SAN is a strong advocate of a united Bar. He is of the strong persuasion that to solve the many challenges facing the profession, we must be united. According to Dr. Ajibade, SAN, the dividing lines we draw between the Bench and the Bar, between corporate/commercial lawyers and advocates, between law officers and the traditional Bar, between in-house counsel and external counsel, between young lawyers and senior lawyers and even the divisions across nationalities and ethnicities hamper rather than aid the course of the legal profession in Nigeria. While different segments of the profession have peculiar challenges, Dr. Ajibade, SAN believes that to successfully fight off threats to the rule of law, encroachment into our profession by foreign lawyers and other professions in Nigeria, and a myriad of other problems the legal profession faces, we must take steps to unite the Bar.

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