CRISIS ROCKS BOSAN’S PROBE C’TE, AS GADZAMA REJECTS APPOINTMENT
* SAYS: ‘I HAVE ALREADY CONGRATULATED AKPATA’
* ‘I WANT MY OWN 2016 NBA ELECTION AUDITED, TOO’
* ASKS BOSAN TO REJIG COMMITTEE
BY EMEKA NWADIOKE
The crisis rocking the beleaguered committee set up by the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) to audit the 2018 and 2020 NBA Elections peaked today with leading arbitrator and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN rejecting his appointment as Chairman of the panel.
In a letter to BOSAN Chairman obtained by CITY LAWYER, Gadzama cited the non-inclusion of the 2016 Elections in which he participated as presidential candidate as one of the reasons for his rejection of the offer, even as he noted that it would imperil settled principles of law if he were to probe his election or the 2020 Elections having congratulated newly inaugurated NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata on his victory at the poll.
Gadzama is the third of the five-member committee to have declined his appointment, coming on the heels of a similar move by Mr. Osaro Eghobamien SAN and Prof. Offornze Amucheazi SAN
He revealed that the BOSAN meeting resolved to probe the 2016, 2018 and 2020 NBA Elections, noting that the 2016 Elections may have been excluded from the mandate of the BOSAN committee because of his appointment as chairman.
Gadzama said: “An arm of the twin pillars of natural justice which is nemo judex in causa sua, is certainly not favourable to me with respect to any issue relating to NBA elections’ investigation or audit being an interested party. In order to avoid the crop-up of the ugly issue of reasonable bias and casting of aspersions on the committee or the outcome of its audit, I have no choice but to respectfully decline.”
He stated that having congratulated Akpata, “whatever decision that comes out of the committee if I am the chairman, will be viewed through different types of lenses depending on the side of the divide the viewer stands.”
He however stated that he supports the probe in collaboration with NBA, urging the BOSAN leadership to appoint the most senior member of the committee in his stead.
It is recalled that BOSAN had at its meeting at the weekend appointed a 5-member committee to audit the 2018 and 2020 NBA Elections.
Below is the full text of Gadzama’s letter:
Wednesday, 9th September, 2020
Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN),
Attention: Mr. Seyi Sowemimo, SAN
NOTIFICATION OF INABILITY TO ACCEPT APPOINTMENT AS CHAIRMAN OF BOSAN COMMITTEE TO AUDIT NBA ELECTIONS
Let me begin by thanking BOSAN for considering me worthy to chair the BOSAN Committee to audit the 2018 and 2020 NBA elections in partnership with the NBA to ensure a flawless electoral system. I do not take the confidence reposed in me by this body for granted. It is an honour to be appointed as the Chairman of the committee for this very important task.
I commend and support the initiative to carry on this exercise by BOSAN. This is a welcome development which if properly executed, will be in the overall interest of the Bar and entire profession in the long run. It is expected that at the end of the proposed audit exercise in partnership with the NBA, helpful recommendations and practical solutions will be proffered by the Committee that will ultimately improve our electoral system as a professional association. Thus, I enjoin all well meaning members of the profession to support this move.
However, I am unable, at this time, to accept this appointment for the reasons set out hereunder.
Firstly, I contested for the position of the President of the NBA in 2016, the outcome of which I rejected as being marred with irregularities. Many members of the NBA, my supporters and I will want that election added to the list of the elections to be audited by this Committee in the interest of justice and fairness. I have my own complaints and reservations about the electoral system having contested for NBA President in 2016 which was the first to be conducted using the electronic voting system. Indeed, it will be desirable to expand the Committee’s scope of work to include audit of the 2016 NBA elections more so that I alleged that I actually scored 2,963 (Two Thousand, Nine Hundred and Sixty Three) votes while my opponent then scored 2,465 (Two Thousand, Four Hundred and Sixty Five) votes in that election. This is more so as no proper audit of 2018 and 2020 elections can be done without examination of the 2016 NBA elections. It will not appear feasible to members of the Association or even the Public that I can head such committee without being biased being a complainant myself. Obviously, doubts (whether genuine or not) may be raised about the Committee and its process if it continues with me as the Chairman.
Secondly, the NBA election of 2016 was included in the minutes of our meeting as part of the elections to be audited, but because I was made the Chairman of the audit committee, it was removed from the elections to be audited. This further supports my reason for declining as the 2016 election was removed because it was not right for me to audit it, having contested that election.
Thirdly, the new NBA executive led by Mr. Olumide Akpata has undertaken to audit these past elections which further lend credence to the decision of the BOSAN to partner with NBA in this audit.
Fourthly, I have already formally congratulated Mr. Olumide Akpata on his victory in the election and whatever decision that comes out of the committee if I am the chairman, will be viewed through different types of lenses depending on the side of the divide the viewer stands.
An arm of the twin pillars of natural justice which is nemo judex in causa sua, is certainly not favourable to me with respect to any issue relating to NBA elections’ investigation or audit being an interested party. In order to avoid the crop-up of the ugly issue of reasonable bias and casting of aspersions on the committee or the outcome of its audit, I have no choice but to respectfully decline.
It is on these bases that I decline my appointment but categorically state that I am in support of the Committee’s work and the Committee can commence its assignment with a replacement or the appointment of the most senior SAN amongst the members as the Chairman of the Committee. Indeed, I have my own story to tell and song to sing. I also want to give my recommendations on the way forward so that our future elections can be more transparent, as well as more credible; acceptable to both winners and losers. I will be glad to make a presentation to the BOSAN Committee and the one which was rightly set up by the NBA President, at the appropriate time if invited.
As stated earlier, I have already congratulated the President of the NBA on his election and my position on this issue is only borne out of genuine desire to see an NBA where the electoral process will be seen to be transparent and the election result will be acceptable by majority, if not all, of the members. I honestly believe that this move by BOSAN in partnership with the NBA is a step in the right direction as it will definitely crystallize into concrete resolutions which may be considered for incorporation into the NBA Constitution or future electoral guidelines.
I thank BOSAN for anticipated understanding in this regard. As usual, please accept the assurances of my highest regards.
Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN
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