‘I’M NOT SURPRISED AKPATA WON’ – CHIJIOKE OKOLI

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Bar Leader and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr. Chijioke Okoli SAN has given a pass mark to the just concluded NBA Elections, saying he is not surprised that tier-one solicitor, Mr. Olumide Akpata won the presidential poll.

In an interview with CITY LAWYER, the fiery litigator stated that circumstances conspired to hand-over the mantle to NBA President-elect, even as he urged Akpata’s opponents to join hands with him to move the Bar forward.

His words:

“The election seems to be a significant improvement from the last one in which I could not even vote. Without prejudice to whatever genuine complaints some others may have, it was transparent in my view especially with the real-time results as the voting went on.

“It is therefore proper to commend the election committee for a good job. I know my Learned Brother Silk Chief Tawo as man of integrity, and he did not disappoint.

“As for the results, that of the President did not surprise me. Olu Akpata, truth be told, worked hardest and longest of all the contestants. And he rode the crest wave of the long lingering disenchantment of many – especially the vast horde of young lawyers – with the Bar status quo; an aspect of which is the bitterness some lawyers have for the institution of SAN and which was exacerbated by Otunba Awomolo’s rather unfortunate leaked letter to Chief Onomigbo Okpoko.

“Having said that, Olu proved with not only his top-tier firm and his stint in NBA-SBL that he possesses remarkable administrative capacity and vision. I congratulate him heartily as well as the winners of the other positions.

“I’m sure that if Olu works on the desk of NBA Presidency as hard as he campaigned for it then his tenure should be a refreshing and uplifting one for Nigerian lawyers. His cosmopolitan background and outlook should serve well in uniting a badly divided bar, including the seeming marginalization of the South West in the scheme of things. I’m sure he knows that a lot is expected of him, with the young lawyers especially investing fervent hope in his tenure for significant positive change in their professional fortunes.

“His task is enormous on many fronts, especially in leading the fight for the rule of law and enthronement of minimum standards in our administration of justice which are sadly lacking at the moment. The elections are over and we all remain friends at the Bar.

“I would urge all, especially his esteemed co-contestants and their supporters to rally round him to construct an NBA which works for all.

“Finally, the contest for the Assistant Secretary was such a closely fought one as to partake of an electoral thriller.”

Okoli had endorsed Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN in the run-up to the elections.

It is recalled that the Chairman of the Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN had on July 31, 2020 declared Akpata as winner of the NBA presidential election held on July 29 or 30, 2020.

According to the ECNBA Chairman, Akpata polled 9,891 or 54.3 per cent votes to beat his closest rival, Ajibade SAN who garnered 4,328 (23.8 per cent) votes. Mr. Dele Adesina SAN polled 3,982 votes (21.9 per cent) to bring up the rear.  Adesina had a few hours to the end of the election demanded cancellation of the poll, saying it was fraught with infractions. The election was held via ElectionBuddy, an electronic voting software deployed by Edmonton, Canada based firm.

Though a total of 29,636 lawyers were accredited for the election, only 18,256 or 62 per cent of the voters succeeded in casting their ballots.

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

ECNBA APPEARS BEFORE TRUSTEES, REPLIES ADESINA

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• CONTRADICTS ITSELF ON NUMBER OF VERIFIED VOTERS
• SET TO SUBMIT CLEAN LIST OF VERIFIED VOTERS TO BOT
• ELECTIONBUDDY SUBMITS CERTIFIED RESULTS
• ‘AUDIT WILL IDENTIFY EVERY VOTER, CHOICES’
• ‘THERE IS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT,’ SAYS TAWO

There are strong indications that the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) may have appeared before the NBA Board of Trustees (BOT) yesterday as Trustees opened hearing in a petition filed by erstwhile NBA presidential candidate, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN seeking to overturn the election.

CITY LAWYER had reported that the committee was to adopt its response to Adesina’s petition at yesterday’s hearing. 

Meanwhile, the controversy over the exact number of voters on the register has refused to abate, as the electoral committee has now pegged the figure at 29,632 voters in its response to the BOT. The figure is different from the “total of 29,635 verified and duly accredited members who have fulfilled all requirements for voting in the NBA National Officers elections 2020” – as announced by the committee in its ECNBA STATEMENT N0. 018 ACCREDITED VOTERS LIST – or the “29636 eligible voters” which is still trending on the election results portal. 

In the response obtained by CITY LAWYER and titled “RE: PETITION BY JULIUS OLADELE ADESINA SAN IN RESPECT OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION (sic) 2020,” the electoral committee stated that it “through a transparent process, engaged an IT Consultant to advice the committee on the best possible options to achieve maximum result for the e-voting system and an enterprise voting platform to conduct the election.”

According to the ECNBA, “A record of Over 18,000 members of the NBA voters participated in the NBA national officers elections. In specific terms, the list of legal practitioners qualified to vote in the 2020 NBA national officers elections stood at 39,000.”

Though the electoral committee stated that “The verified voters were in excesses (sic) of 30,000,” it later declared in the response that “29,632 (75.36%) verified.”

Noting that 18,256 voters cast their ballot, “representing over 62% or verified/accredited Voters,” the ECNBA said: “The results were observed from all locations real time and same were later officially announced by the ECNBA. The election was adjudged by many as free, fair and transparent.”

Comparing the 2020 election with the 2016 and 2018 polls, the electoral committee stated that “In 2020, a total of 39,321 Lawyers made the final voters’ list, 29,632 (75.36%) verified, 18,256 voted representing 46.43% of the electorate and 61.61% of those verified by accreditation to vote.”

Responding specifically to Adesina’s petition, the committee in its 8-page defence dated August 5, 2020 and signed by its Chairman, Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN said that “no illegal, inaccurate or flawed Voters Register was used in the 2020 National officers’ elections of the Nigerian Bar Association neither was the process subverted nor manipulated against or in favour of anybody by any person.”

The committee vowed that it did not deploy any illegal voters’ register for the elections, adding that “The Electronic voting platform is designed in such a manner that a post-election audit can identify every voter and his choices at the election.”

It also debunked Adesina’s allegation that the use of NBA stamp in compiling the voters’ register imperiled the elections, saying that the “stamp and seal list for 2020 was a mere handmaiden provided by the National secretariat based on data supplied by the Branches of persons who had paid their Bar practicing fees and Branch dues as prequalification for application for stamp and seal. The Branches sent further details to cover those whose names were not on the stamp and seal list.”

On the allegation that the final voters’ list violated the provision of the NBA Constitution which set out a 28 days deadline for the publication of the register, the committee said: “This (publication of the list of verified voters) must not be confused with the (39,321) final voters’ list of legal practitioners qualified to vote as required by Article 1.2.(d) to be published at least twenty-eight (28) days before the election.”

The committee also debunked the claim that there were names of lawyers on the accredited list without branches indicated, saying that “the said names already had their branches indicated in the full list of all legal practitioners qualified to vote which was published on the 1st of July 2020.”

On the controversial issue of “International diaspora” branch, the electoral umpire said that “the names that were erroneously tagged as International Diaspora, had their correct branches indicated on the aforesaid list of 1st July 2020. The error of the International Diaspora designation arose from the fact that same was amongst the list of branches on the NBA Verification portal (perhaps for futuristic projections) and became a default place holder for any member who did not indicate his/her Branch during verification. This was addressed in the contents of ECNBA Statement No.019 thereto.”

Noting that there was no untoward activity relating to uploading of the voters’ register “that would affect the outcome of the elections or disenfranchise any voter in the elections,” the committee added that it explained in its Statement No. 019 “the circumstances around the complaints of members that they were put in branches other than their own.”

The electoral committee promised to avail the Trustees with “accredited Voters’ list with the proper Branches of members reflected,” adding that “It may be compared with the names on the final voters’ list prior to verification/accreditation.” It also noted that the “active element” for the election or unique identifier for each member was the Supreme Court Enrollment Number (SCN). “At no time did the Committee receive any complain about ‘SAN Number’ which may well have been a reference to SCN number, if at all such an incident occurred. There is no such requirement for eligibility to vote in the elections,” the committee said.

Turning to the charge of “data diddling” as alleged by Adesina, the committee said: “The ECNBA reiterates that no data was programmed and/or preconfigured to a premeditated result “in any case of data diddling”. There was never and could never be any unholy alliance and collaboration between any candidate and the ECNBA.”

The committee declared that NBA portal was not deployed for the voting, adding: “Rather, it is a foreign enterprise platform called Election Buddy with a pedigree for the kind of electoral exercise conducted by the NBA. Prior to the voting exercise, the platform had been put through series of trials via mock elections involving the ECNBA members and national officers (excluding the NBA President), with a good showing. At the end of the elections, the Certification of the election results by Election Buddy (platform provider) has also been received by the ECNBA and is forwarded with this report.”

It stated that the committee “is not unaware that for two previous elections, the IT consultants/Service providers have been subject to litigations and invitations to the various organs of the States in a manner that have not given so much credit to the NBA,” noting that “This state of affairs has made many service providers wary of doing business with the NBA.”

The committee noted that the election portal “was programmed to deliver 5 notices of the election to each voter’s phone number and email and each failed attempt was aggregated. The failure to deliver the notices had nothing to do with the capacity of the platform but the phone number/email or the facility on the receiving device.”

Though the ECNBA denied that NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN usurped its powers to engage the Service Provider, it however admitted that “The MOU for the engagement for the ICT consultant was necessarily signed by the NBA because the ECNBA is a committee of the NBA and the former has no resources of its own to pay for the services.”

Concluding, the electoral committee noted that “There is no gainsaying the fact that there is room for improvement in the NBA electoral process, especially in the manner members’ data are maintained at the Branches and the need for Lawyers to optimize their digital skills to enable the e-voting system to be user friendly cannot be over-emphasized.”

It is recalled that Adesina had petitioned the electoral committee alleging irregularities and demanding a cancellation of the poll. In a letter to ECNBA Chairman dated 30th July, 2020 and personally signed by him, Adesina stated that the voters’ list “contained grave errors of omission and commission,” listing some of the errors as:

Leading solicitor, Mr. Olumide Akpata was on July 31, 2020 declared winner of the NBA presidential election held on July 29 or 30, 2020. Announcing the results, Tawo said Akpata polled 9,891 or 54.3 per cent votes to beat his closest rival, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN who garnered 4,328 (23.8 per cent) votes. Adesina polled 3,982 votes (21.9 per cent) to bring up the rear. Adesina had a few hours to the end of the election demanded cancellation of the poll, saying it was fraught with infractions. The election was held via ElectionBuddy, an electronic voting software deployed by Edmonton, Canada based firm.

ECNBA RESPONSE

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

NBA TRUSTEES TO HEAR ADESINA’S ELECTION PETITION TODAY

EMEKA NWADIOKE

There are strong indications that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Board of Trustees (BOT) will today begin hearing in the petition filed by Mr. Dele Adesina SAN against the declaration of Mr. Olumide Akpata as winner of the recent NBA National Officers Elections.

It is expected that the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) will appear before the panel to present its case against Adesina’s petition. A member of the committee told CITY LAWYER at the weekend that the board was scheduled to sit on the petition today, saying: “BOT is meeting on Monday. We are expected to formally adopt our response before them.”

It is recalled that Adesina had petitioned the electoral committee alleging irregularities and demanding a cancellation of the poll. In a letter to ECNBA Chairman dated 30th July, 2020 and personally signed by him, Adesina stated that the voters’ list “contained grave errors of omission and commission,” listing some of the errors as:

  1. Names of purported Lawyers without Branches ascribed to them from Serial Number 25171 to 29635;
  2. Names of Lawyers under the subheading “International Diaspora” from Serial Number 12182 to 12268. A clear violation of the provisions of the Constitution of the NBA;
  3. Inflation of the List of some Branches. For instance, Obollo-Afor Branch on the Final List for Verification had only 39 names on the List from Serial Number 30424 to 30462. Strangely, this increased to 662 on the Verified List;
  4. Deletion of Names of Members removed from the Final List;
  1. Many Members names found their way to Branches other than their own Branch.

He however queried why it was NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN that responded to his complaint as against the committee. He then petitioned the trustees.

In a petition dated 2nd August, 2020 and addressed to BOT Chairman, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN, Adesina stated that he “had the privilege of joining others to build the NBA before some of the god-fathers who are plunging the NBA into avoidable crisis today ever became involved in the affairs of the Association.”

Other members of the BOT are former NBA Presidents Joseph Bodunrin Daudu (SAN) and Augustine Alegeh (SAN), a former NBA General Secretary Obafemi Adewale and longstanding Bar Leader, Hajia Fatima Kwaku. Instructively, while Daudu threw his weight behind Adesina in the run-up to the election, Adewale endorsed Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN as the best man for the job. On his part, though Alegeh did not openly align with Akpata, he is said to be perhaps his most influential backer, even as he congratulated the NBA President-elect even before he was officially decalred as a winner of the election. 

Citing alleged infractions of the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended), the erstwhile presidential candidate said: “Our I.C.T. Consultants informed us that though the voting site might have appeared credible on the surface as a decoy, it is apparent to state that the data uploaded to the site was programmed and preconfigured to achieve a premeditated result in an obvious case of data diddling.”

According to Adesina, “it is apparent to state that the data uploaded to the site was programmed and preconfigured to achieve a premeditated result in an obvious case of data diddling.”

In the petition titled “Re: The Nigerian Bar Association 2020 National Officers Election: A case of classical electronic fraud, illegal and unconstitutional process: call for cancellation and a new election conducted for the Nigerian Bar Association (nba)” and copied to all the trustees and NBA past presidents, Adesina warned that “The time has come to regain the integrity of the Nigerian Bar Association by putting an end to unconstitutional and fraudulent elections in our Association.”

It is recalled that the Chairman of the Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN had on July 31, 2020 declared Akpata as winner of the NBA presidential election held on July 29 or 30, 2020.

According to the ECNBA Chairman, Akpata polled 9,891 or 54.3 per cent votes to beat his closest rival, Ajibade who garnered 4,328 (23.8 per cent) votes. Adesina polled 3,982 votes (21.9 per cent) to bring up the rear.  Adesina had a few hours to the end of the election demanded cancellation of the poll, saying it was fraught with infractions. The election was held via ElectionBuddy, an electronic voting software deployed by Edmonton, Canada based firm.

Though a total of 29,636 lawyers were accredited for the election, only 18,256 or 62 per cent of the voters succeeded in casting their ballots.

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

SHOCKER! NBA ELECTION PORTAL RESULT TALLIES WRONG

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• ALSO, MORE VOTERS ON PORTAL THAN ON VOTERS’ REGISTER

The tally of votes on the election portal deployed for the recently concluded Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Election is incorrect, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

Also, the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) uploaded more voters than the number of voters published by the committee in its final verified voters’ register.

For the presidential race, while the election portal records that 18, 201 votes tallied and 54 abstentions were from “18, 256 ballots,” a tally of the votes and abstentions by CITY LAWYER shows that the correct total is 18,255 ballots. This shows that the total ballots shot up by one ballot.

When CITY LAWYER tallied the ballots for the post of 1st Vice President, the same error margin recurred. While the election portal hosted by ElectionBuddy, a world class election company, tallied the 17, 312 ballots and 943 abstentions at a total 18, 256 ballots, the actual figure is 18, 255 ballots.

For the post of 2nd Vice President, the election portal tallied the 15, 442 votes and 2,813 abstentions again at 18, 256 ballots as against the correct tally of 18, 255 ballots.

The tally for the post of General Secretary is not different. While ElectionBuddy tallied the 17, 941 ballots and 314 abstentions at 18, 256 ballots, the actual figure is again 18, 255 ballots, showing that the tally shot up by one ballot.

The error recurs for all the posts, including the uncontested posts such as Treasurer and Financial Secretary. The posts that suffered the same “mystery one vote” gap include Welfare Secretary, Publicity Secretary, Assistant Secretary and Assistant Publicity Secretary.

Meanwhile, the voters register deployed for the election may have exceeded the register used for the election again by one voter. While the ECNBA had in its “ECNBA STATEMENT N0. 018 ACCREDITED VOTERS LIST” declared the number of verified voters on the register as 29, 635, the records on the election portal show that 29, 636 voters were uploaded on the election platform. The notice on the election portal reads that 18, 256 ballots were “submitted of 29636 eligible voters.” 

It is recalled that the electoral committee had while announcing the number of verified voters on the final voters’ register said: “Further to the publication of the full list of legal practitioners qualified to vote, the ECNBA now presents a total of 29,635 verified and duly accredited members who have fulfilled all requirements for voting in the NBA National Officers elections 2020.”

When CITY LAWYER sought an explanation on the wrong ballot tallies from the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA), its Secretary Cordelia Eke promised to provide an explanation. However, despite repeated reminders, this was not made available at press time.

Former NBA presidential candidate, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN had petitioned the NBA Board of Trustees over the elections, alleging rigging and other irregularities. In a petition dated 2nd August, 2020 Adesina stated that “Our I.C.T. Consultants informed us that though the voting site might have appeared credible on the surface as a decoy, it is apparent to state that the data uploaded to the site was programmed and preconfigured to achieve a premeditated result in an obvious case of data diddling.”

Continuing, Adesina said: “Right from the outset of the election and up till the end of same, all the candidates virtually maintained the same percentage of votes relative to each other and the total votes cast. This fact alone is indicative of the possibility of a system which was programmed towards a predetermined result. A close examination of the recorded result at different timelines shows percentage movement of the Presidential Candidates as 54%, 23% and 21% with little or no variation. The system was obviously programmed to distribute votes at either +1 or – 1 throughout the 24 hour period. According to the Interim Report of our Technical Team, “statistically, the voting result showed no randomness of any sort, which raises the question of whether there was no tampering of votes.” ”

According to results announced by ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN, Mr. Olumide Akpata polled 9, 891 or 54.3 per cent votes to beat his closest rival, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN who garnered 4,328 (23.8 per cent) votes.  Adesina polled 3, 982 votes (21.9 per cent) to bring up the rear. Adesina had a few hours to the end of the election demanded cancellation of the poll, saying it was fraught with irregularities. 

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

AKPATA DISOWNS ATTACKS ON POLITICAL OPPONENTS

Nigerian Bar Association President-elect, Mr. Olumide Akpata has warned his supporters to desist from lampooning opponents while celebrating his victory at the poll.

In a post trending on social media, Akpata chided “my supporters who have unnecessarily targeted and excoriated our colleagues for no just cause,” and warned that such attitude would detract from his quest to forge a united Bar. He noted that “a divided Bar is a defeated Bar.”

It is recalled that some senior lawyers have expressed worry at what they perceive as disrespect from juniors in relation to the recent NBA Elections. Fiery longstanding NBA Chief Prosecutor, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa SAN has penned several statements on the subject, even as CITY LAWYER yesterday reported a searing indictment of erstwhile NBA presidential candidate, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN by Akpata’s accredited agent at the elections, Mr. Aderemi Oguntoye.

The full text of Akpata’s statement is below.

Dear Colleagues,

In the last few days, I have observed with concern the rising tide of social media vitriol by a few lawyers believed to be my supporters who have unnecessarily targeted and excoriated our colleagues for no just cause. Whilst I deeply appreciate everyone who contributed to my emergence as President-elect of the NBA, I do not subscribe to showing disrespect to other people because they did not support my candidacy. Ours is a noble profession that prides itself on the high sense of discipline, learning, respect for seniority and character for which its members are reputed.

The mandate that I have from Nigerian lawyers is to work for ALL members of the Bar irrespective of who they voted for in the just concluded elections. In my acceptance speech, I made the obvious point that there is so much work to be done to revitalise our Bar and make it work for everyone without discrimination. This enormous task cannot be achieved if we continue to fan the embers of division at a time when we desperately need to unite and speak with one firm voice.

I therefore use this medium to appeal to our colleagues (both junior and senior) who supported me to show respect to seniors and peers whilst celebrating last week’s electoral victory. We must be kind, magnanimous, respectful and sensitive by our words and actions. This is because doing otherwise would be a great disservice to our vision of building a stronger and formidable Bar. The electioneering season is far behind us. Now is the time to come together because a divided Bar is a defeated Bar.

I leave you with the words of the legendary Henry Ford who said: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

If we truly want to make progress and ultimately succeed as a Bar, then we have a responsibility to show respect to one another and stay together as one. The time to do this is now.
Olumide Akpata

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

AKPATA’S AIDE BLASTS ADESINA OVER NBA ELECTION

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

  • SAYS ‘HE PREPARED TO FAIL’

  • ‘HIS AGENT ONLY CAME TO SITUATION ROOM TO SUBMIT PETITION’

The controversies trailing the recently concluded Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Officers Elections took a new turn today following a fierce indictment of erstwhile presidential candidate, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN by an aide of NBA President-elect, Mr. Olumide Akpata.

It is recalled that Adesina had petitioned NBA Trustees, urging them to cancel the election due to alleged irregularities. Influential Yoruba lawyers’ forum, Egbe Amofin O’odua has also joined the fray, saying: “In clear terms, the Egbe Amofin rejects the purported results declared by the Election Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA).” CITY LAWYER also reported that the forum has placed a gag order on its members on the election, even as it appointed Mr. Femi Falana SAN and Chief Niyi Akintola SAN as its spokespersons on the election.

Apparently responding to the barrage of criticisms relating to the election, Mr. Aderemi Oguntoye, Akpata’s “Accredited Agent” at the ECNBA Situation Room for the election, blasted Adesina, saying he was “prepared to fail.”

In a trending post on social media, Oguntoye said Adesina “strongly believed he’s entitled to be handed the Bar Presidency since he served with Olanipekun as Gen-Sec and Olanipekun and Egbe endorsed him.” He stated that the former NBA General Secretary “didn’t realise that Egbe’s influence had limitations and it was actually counterproductive in the preceding circumstances of the endorsement.”

The ranking Akpata associate also noted that Adesina’s camp was aloof as regards tracking of the electoral process, adding that “the first time we had a glimpse of Adesina’s representatives was when they arrived in the afternoon of 30th July with the sole purpose of submitting their petition and this was well over 14 hours into the election.”

The full text of Oguntoye’s post is below:

Guys, pls calm down! Sustained grievance can lead to cancer. Quote me.

Adesina prepared to fail. Ask me why?

He strongly believed he’s entitled to be handed the Bar Presidency since he served with Olanipekun as Gen-Sec and Olanipekun and Egbe endorsed him. Adesina didn’t realise that Egbe’s influence had limitations and it was actually counterproductive in the preceding circumstances of the endorsement. My friends, endorsement doesn’t win elections, preparation does. *In the 21st century, nobody hands power, influence to you. You go for it.* You’ll be shocked to know that some junior lawyers in Adesina and probably Chief Olanipekun’s law firms actually voted Akpata. *The junior lawyers (age 21-33 yrs) don’t understand tribal sentiments,which our seniors are preaching on Egbe’s platforms, what they understand is Instagram and Tiktok and that’s the language OLU spoke to them* .😊😉

Pointer to Adesina’s preparation to fail:

On Wednesday 29th when the election was about to commence, ECNBA officials addresed candidates’ representatives btw 10:50pm-11:05pm. They explained the reason why they froze candidates from knowing ahead of time, the cyber platform to be utilised for the election. They basically guarded against likely direct interference by candidates with the platform/server providers (US company called Election Buddy). *Interestingly, Adesina’s representatives were absent.* At 1am, we (Ajibade’s agent and myself) were invited to ECNBA’s local tech room at the NBA house. They wanted to show us round in order to assure us that the ongoing election back up tech installation was free from manipulation.

You know what’s shocking? Adesina’s rep/agent was still no where to be found.* At about 1:30 am when the results platform temporarily froze, I agitatively rushed up to the ECNBA server room and the officials put a call through to the Americans hosting the main computation server, who later assured us that the link will come back on. They had to quickly re-configure the refreshing timing, since there was more traffic on the result link than voting link. They were overwhelmed by the number of lawyers and non-lawyers following up on the results even at 1:30am.

By 7:30am, I enquired from the ECNBA officials whether they had independent officials and they informed me that they had sent the link to nothing less than 7 Judges/Justices of different courts amongst other observers for monitoring.

Guys, the first time we had a glimpse of Adesina’s representatives was when they arrived in the afternoon of 30th July with the sole purpose of submitting their petition and this was well over 14 hours into the election.

Please, let no one fool us because we are a very intelligent people and we shouldn’t be swayed by Adesina’s pre-planned reaction. The fellow doesn’t wish to go into oblivion without some noise. My inclination is that he either overestimated his chances or he knew he would lose. *How do you explain his inability to present a situation room representative as required by the ECNBA?

Enough said for now.

Aderemi Oguntoye

Olumide Akpata’s Accredited Agent at the ECNBA Situation Room at the just concluded NBA Elections

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

EXCLUSIVE: EGBE AMOFIN CRACKS, GAGS MEMBERS ON NBA ELECTION

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• EGBE BLOC CONGRATULATES AKPATA, ASSURES SUPPORT
• ADESINA PETITIONS NBA TRUSTEES 

Cracks have emerged within Egbe Amofin O’odua ranks as a major bloc in the influential regional group has congratulated Nigerian Bar Association President-elect, Mr. Olumide Akpata on his victory at the poll.

Meanwhile, there are strong indications that Egbe Amofin O’odua may have barred its members from commenting on the outcome of the NBA Elections. The gag order was made after a meeting of the group at the weekend, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report. Firebrand human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana SAN is among the two persons appointed as spokespersons on the election.

Egbe Amofin ni Eko, the Lagos bloc of the group, has congratulated Akpata on his victory, assuring him of “our individual and collective support for your administration and for our noble mother association.”

The bloc had in the run-up to the hotly contested NBA Elections endorsed Adesina, saying: “We are true sons and daughters of Oduduwa and we stand on the decision of Egbe made in Ibadan over the endorsement of a single candidate. Another meeting of the Egbe is only 13 days away. Any aggrieved candidate should approach Egbe. But for us, we stand on the decision of the mother group.”

But in a statement made available to CITY LAWYER and signed by the Chairman of the bloc, Mr. Martin Ogunleye, it said: “On behalf of the leadership and members of Egbe Amofin ni Eko, I hereby convey to you our congratulations on your emergence as President-elect of the Nigerian Bar Association.

“We are optimistic that your track record of service to the bar, especially as Chairman of the Section of Business Law, and your promise to take a 24 month sabbatical from law practice to serve the association, would be brought to bear to take our association, the NBA to greater heights.

“Please accept the assurances of our individual and collective support for your administration and for our noble mother association.”

While a leading member of the association had assured CITY LAWYER that he would proffer his opinion on the conduct of the election, things took a new today early today when he sent an apology saying: “I regret to inform you that we, members of Egbe Amofin ODUA have been barred from commenting, writing, granting interview and or posting on social media platforms any comment, write up and article on issues relating to the recently concluded NBA 2020 elections. Asiwaju Niyi Akintola, SAN and Femi Falana, SAN have been appointed as spokespersons for Yoruba Lawyers on the election. In deference to this directive, I will be resiling from my earlier commitment to send my write up on the election to your blog.

“The decision was taken at the last Egbe meeting held on Saturday. Please note that the directive affects only those who subscribed to Egbe Amofin ODUA ideals.”

It was unclear whether the gag order is linked to the congratulatory message by Egbe Amofin ni Eko. When CITY LAWYER contacted the Secretary of Egbe Amofin O’odua, Dr. John Akintayo at the time of going to press, he pleaded that he was “very busy” but assured that he would be available to speak subsequently.

It is recalled that Egbe Amofin O’odua had adopted Adesina as its sole candidate, even as erstwhile NBA presidential candidate, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN opted out of the adoption process, arguing that it was devoid of transparency.

Meanwhile, Adesina has again petitioned NBA Trustees on the outcome of the election. In his latest petition, the senior lawyer alleged that the election “breached the fundamental provisions of the NBA Constitution itself in material particulars,” adding that provisions on publication of the Voters Register 28 days and appointment of Service Provider by ECNBA were violated.

He also alleged that while the ECNBA is expected to be independent, “Representations made by me to the ECNBA were very strangely responded to personally by the NBA President without any such response from the ECNBA which was the primary addressee of the complaints. The entire election looked like it was a personal show or project of the incumbent President including selection/appointment of service providers et al. Mr. Chairman, sir, what the NBA President did by comparison can be likened to a situation where the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria conducts a Presidential election, hijacked the constitutional responsibilities by assuming the duties and responsibilities of INEC, appointing Service Providers, nominating and paying those who would print ballot papers, warehousing the ballot boxes, providing INEC Server etc.”

Continuing, he said: “In this connection, NBA will never be taken serious by Nigeria and Nigerians as well as other law associations outside our shores, including the International Bar Association (IBA) if these crass, abnormalities, illegalities and deliberate wholesale breach of our constitution are not redressed. Our dear Association must not be allowed to descend to opprobrium. We must not be made or subjected to a laughing stock.”

EGBE AMOFIN EKO

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ELECTION CRISIS: USORO VOWS TO UNITE AKPATA, ADESINA, OTHERS

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN has committed to bridge the schism that has attended the just concluded NBA National Officers Elections.

CITY LAWYER recalls that one of the presidential candidates in the race, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN had in a searing petition to the Electoral Committee (ECNBA) carpeted the poll as a “sham election,” demanding its cancellation. Mr. Olumide Akpata was declared winner of the election, polling 9,891 or 54.3 per cent votes to beat his closest rival, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN who garnered 4,328 (23.8 per cent) votes. Adesina polled 3,982 votes (21.9 per cent) to bring up the rear. 

But in a response by Usoro addressed to NBA Past Presidents and Trustees, he stated that the election may have occasioned “wounds and bruises,” and warned against allowing the schism to deepen.

His words: “Now that the Elections are gone and past, I would, with the greatest respect, urge all our members, including the erstwhile contestants – both the winners and the losers – to join hands in healing the wounds and bruises that may have been occasioned by the Elections campaigns and results. It is inevitable that, in contests of this nature, there would be such wounds and bruises; we must however not allow them to fester and become open sores and flashpoints for divisions amongst us.”

Usoro assured that his immediate task is to facilitate the mending of fences between the combatants, saying: “That healing process is the most urgent and pressing assignment that we have, and I intend in the coming days to reach out to all the erstwhile contestants in that regard, notably, the Presidential candidates. I solicit your support and assistance, my dear Presidents and Trustees, in that task. There is much work to be done by all of us in the elevation of our Bar and we need to heal fast and then turn our attention, as a united Bar, to those tasks.”

In a detailed riposte to the allegations raised in Adesina’s petition, the NBA President vowed that neither him nor the ECNBA rigged the poll, saying that not only was the voter turnout unprecedented, the petitioner had adduced no evidence that any alleged infraction adversely impacted the result of the election.

He said it is “strange” that Adesina claimed that there were members “who received the link” but “could not vote,” adding that the “overwhelming evidence” that he received and also read on social media was that the voting process was “seamless” and “very easy for our members. I have so far not received any report from any member claiming that he or she had challenges in voting on the basis of the unique link that were sent to members from and by the Election Platform server. In any case, the ECNBA Statement No. 18 that was referenced in the Committee’s Statement No. 19 afore-referenced provided a helpline for members – 0700 5555 2020 – and I am hoping that those members who may have experienced voting challenges after receiving their unique links had contacted that helpline for assistance.”

Confirming that Adesina discussed his concerns with him before the election, Usoro said: “To reinforce the explanations in the ECNBA Statement No. 19, I further explained to Mr. Adesina that (a) all the names in the Verified Voters’ List were drawn from the Final Voters’ List that was published by the ECNBA on 01 July 2020 and that no new names were added; (b) all the names in the Verified Voters’ List are lawyers and had paid their Bar Practicing Fees and Branch Dues and had therefore met the eligibility qualification to vote in the Elections; and (c) the Elections would be determined, not on the basis of NBA branches but based on universal suffrage of the members which is the voting system enshrined in the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution, 2015 (as amended) and we should therefore not be fixated on the electronic glitches that assigned wrong branches to members. I stand by those explanations that I gave to Mr. Adesina and of course the fuller explanations that are contained in the ECNBA Statement No. 19.” He therefore warned against being “fixated” on the “electronic glitches” that assigned wrong branches to members.

Noting that Adesina has not been “forthcoming” with the details of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria that he mentioned in his petition, Usoro said: “Suffice to state that there were 29,636 verified voters for the 2020 NBA National Officers Election – a number that is far higher than the numbers we had in 2016 and 2018 for the NBA National Officers’ Elections that were held in those years. In my humble opinion, that is an advancement that we should all be proud of and should build on in succeeding Elections.”

The NBA President stated that “the relevant question to ask in regard to the security of the NBA Membership Portal is whether any member’s security was breached or compromised howsoever vis-à-vis the 2020 NBA National Officers’ Election. Prior to the Elections, I had read some non-specific allegations in that regard by a candidate and had requested for specific instance of any such breach to enable investigation by the NBA. Up till date, I have not received any such specific complaint, and none has been made in regard to the 2020 Elections. The NBA however remains open to investigate any such complaint if any is presented by Mr. Adesina or any other person.”

Usoro observed that 18,256 ballots were cast in the Elections consisting of 62% of the verified voters, saying: “That was by far higher than the number of ballots that were cast in the last 2 (two) NBA National Officers’ Elections since universal suffrage was introduced in 2015. Again, that is a feat which, in my very humble opinion, we should all exult and revel in. It reflects an incremental achievement which succeeding Elections can and should build on.”

He said that Adesina fell into error when he mistook the number of undeliverable notices for the number of persons who did not receive notices, saying that the number of notices “represented the aggregate of the undeliverable notices that were sent to each Verified Voter through the two notification channels – sms and e-mails. It also represents the aggregate number of blasts of such notices to each of the affected Verified Voter.” According to Usoro, the number of voters whose notices were previously undeliverable but were eventually able to vote also improved, climbing from 1,886 to 6,500. “That, in my respectful view, was quite commendable and showed an overarching commitment by the ECNBA to deliver on its mandate,” he said.

Alluding to the chequered issue of NBA database, Usoro said that “the inability to deliver those notices was not attributable howsoever to the Election Platform; it had everything to do with the NBA’s poor database (which, in point of fact, has been much improved under the present NBA administration) and the activation of DND in some of our members’ mobile phones.”

Usoro denied signing any Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the election portal vendor, adding that Adesina also got his information wrong on that score. His words: “In regard to the allegations relating to the procurement of the Election Platform, these are all incorrect, to the best of my knowledge. No MoU was signed on the Election Day in regard to the Election Platform. It is not quite clear what Mr. Adesina intends by his assertion that “the System . . . was . . . registered the very day the Election was to start”. As far as I know, the Election Platform, ElectionBuddy, belongs to a foreign company who has provided service such as we had for the NBA 2020 Elections in the past 12 years. Mr. Adesina, with the greatest respect, got his facts in regard to the Election Platform completely wrong. In any case, I would have thought that the more material issue should be whether the Election Platform provided satisfactory service to our members for the Elections. The evidence I have answers that question overwhelmingly in the positive. Mr. Adesina’s letter incidentally did not assert to the contrary. Regardless, the NBA remains open to address any specific queries that Mr. Adesina or any other may have in regard to the Election Platform.”

He said that Adesina left the “most critical” issue unaddressed, namely the integrity of the ballot. His words: “Perhaps I should first comment on the refreshing and complete transparency of the ballot. That is one feature that no one could dispute or quibble over. We were all election monitors, right from the first ballot to the last, using our various devices. It was possible for all our members to track the votes as they were cast. Another unique feature of the Elections was the unique link that was sent to each Verified Voter for him or her to access the platform and cast his/her ballot. That link was unique to the receiver and non-transferable; it was also not possible to use a single link and vote more than once.

“The link was delivered to members both by e-mail and sms and this was to ensure that Verified Voters all received the notification. Upon accessing the Election portal, the unique identifier that enabled voting by members was the Supreme Court Number of each Verified Voter. In effect, even if Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN’s unique link for accessing the Election Portal were to fall into the wrong hands, such wrong hands could not have cast the ballot, using that link except he or they also had Mr. Usoro’s SCN. These were all security measures that were put in place by the ECNBA to ensure the integrity of the ballot and I have not received any report from anyone whomsoever suggesting that these security measures were compromised or breached howsoever.”

Usoro said that he “had consistently committed to a free, fair, credible, transparent and unimpeachable ballot for our members in the 2020 National Officers’ Elections, right from my election in 2018,” adding: “I had also expressly informed each of the Presidential Candidates during my interactions with them that I would not rig the Election for any candidate neither would the ECNBA. The ECNBA were sworn to the same ideals as I was and I feel very comfortable holding my hand to my chest and declaring that we – the ECNBA and the NBA National Officers – lived up to those ideals in the conduct of the 2020 NBA National Officers’ Elections. I affirm solemnly and, in all conviction, that it was the transparent ballot which we all witnessed and nothing else that produced the winners of the Elections.”

PUSAN_LETTER_DASAN

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‘NO HERO HAS EVER EMERGED FROM TREACHERY,’ ADESINA WARNS

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Erstwhile Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Mr. Dele Adesina has said that it was the association and not him or his supporters that lost the recently concluded election.

In a statement dripping with passion, Adesina also warned that NBA may have “lost the last opportunity to re-invent itself,” adding that “time will tell.”

He described the poll as “electronic fraud,” saying: “However, please remember that for those who masterminded, planned and executed the NBA election electronic fraud, no hero has ever emerged out of treachery no matter how noble he thinks his cause is.”

The full text of his speech is below:

THANK YOU ALL FROM DELE ADESINA, SAN, FCIArb.

To all my dear Supporters and Colleagues, particularly my Friends and Co-workers on various social media platforms, DASAN Committees, NBA Forums and Platforms, l once again wish to express my heartfelt gratitude and profound appreciation to each and everyone of you for the wonderful role you played in our attempt to re-create our Association by making it a positive catalyst for the Legal Profession and our Nation. We thought they would respect the very wide acceptability level we enjoyed through-out the Nation and different blocks and allow a fair, free and transparent election. Unfortunately, we never knew that the degree of audacity will be this brazen. We were going there to change the ways and show the path to follow, to demonstrate the meaning of true leadership in purity, honesty of purpose and integrity. Regrettably, those who hold the NBA in suffocating throat know the reason for doing what they did.

One clear thing from these past weeks is that we have built a strong bond of friendship and brotherhood thereby creating connections across the Nation. To all our partners, I urge you all to continue in this spirit of fellowship and keep our connections active as we are all together in this journey of life and career fulfilment in the true spirit of being “our brother’s keeper”. Please, do not exit the Forums and Platforms as it is my desire that we stay together, look after each other’s welfare and mutual progress. The NBA Presidency for me was not an end in itself but really a means to an end. The difference only is that the focus may now be shifted from that of institution to the individuals and that is you.

My believe and that of many, both within and outside of the Bar is that the election of yesterday July 30, 2020 was lost by the Nigerian Bar Association not me or you who worked tirelessly for the repositioning of our Association, the restoration of its honour, glory, integrity and the security of the future of our beloved Profession. Whether or not NBA has not lost the last opportunity to re-invent itself, time will tell. However, please remember that for those who masterminded, planned and executed the NBA election electronic fraud, no hero has ever emerged out of treachery no matter how noble he thinks his cause is.

Once again, I thank you all for your support. God bless you and bless the works of your hands.

Dele Adesina, SAN, FCIArb.

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AKPATA PROMISES ELECTORAL REFORMS, HAILS ADESINA, AJIBADE

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Nigerian Bar Association President-elect, Mr. Olumide Akpata has promised to embark on electoral reforms to smoothen the lapses in the association’s electoral system.

In a letter to lawyers titled “Let us secure the future through a united bar that works for all,” the incoming NBA President traced his entry into the presidential race, adding that “On the strength of the foregoing pledge, I asked you to give me your mandate and join me in bringing about an Association that works for the majority of its members.”

Noting that the electorate “answered that call in an overwhelming and unequivocal manner” when, at the end of a “long and intriguing process” he emerged victorious,” Akpata stated that he was writing “to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

He noted that he did not take for granted “the hardwork, passion and commitment that you all invested into the process that has now culminated in my emergence as President-elect,” and assured NBA members that he would deploy “what I consider my greatest personal attribute: discipline of execution, in carrying out the undertakings that I had given to the members.”

Saying that he “was certain that the election was really not about me,” the leading solicitor stated that he “was driven by the passion to use my time, talent and resources to improve our Association by making it fit-for-purpose, beneficial to all members and responsive to the needs of the society.”

He observed that  “Throughout the electioneering process, I saw many Nigerian lawyers who had either lost faith, or never been interested, in the NBA participate with utmost enthusiasm in the hope that things would become better. This further goes to show that the extraordinary movement that heralded this electoral victory was not, and could never have been about me.”

Dedicating his victory to several segments of the profession, Akpata said: “The victory of last night is for our young lawyers who have become disillusioned with the way the NBA has been run over the years and how the profession appears to be disconnected from the challenges that face them and their future. It is for the progressive senior lawyer who refused to accept the status quo and took firm steps to ensure that things are done better. It is for the corporate counsel, law officers, law teachers, the police and military lawyers, and lawyers in all components of the profession who for long have been treated as unequal members of an Association that ought to be the umbrella body for all legal practitioners.

“The victory of last night is for the lawyer with disability who has long suffered neglect and indignity by the profession. Above all, our victory is for non-lawyers and the general populace who took an unusual, but a special, interest in the conduct of our elections, thus lending credence to my long- held belief that the Nigerian society has always yearned for a legal profession and indeed a Bar that stands tall as an unwavering bastion of the rule of law, an advocate for the sanctity and independence of the judiciary, and a bulwark against tyranny and oppression.”

He accepted the mandate, saying: “It is therefore with immense respect for you, a deep understanding of the value of your mandate, a demonstrable appreciation of the factors that have bedevilled our noble Association and with humility to the will of God, that I wholeheartedly accept this mandate from you. The outpouring of support is only indicative of the amount of work that needs to be done. The greatest appreciation that I can show to all of you is to keep to the various promises that I made, and this, I assure you that I would do.”

On electoral reform, the NBA President-elect said that he was “not unaware of the complaints by at least one of the Presidential candidates about the administrative issues surrounding the elections,” adding that “As members of the legal profession, our electoral process ought to be and remain a standard for others to follow. I said this much in my second letter dated 29th July 2020 to the Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the NBA.”

Declaring his commitment to address the controversies that have bedeviled the association’s elections, Akpata said: “ I strongly believe that there is plenty room for improvement in our electoral process, and I commit to making this possible.”

He stated that while the expectations are high, “together we have a duty to devise measures to tackle the problems of our noble Association. We need to hit the ground running.”

Turning to his fellow contestants, Akpata said: “I also particularly appreciate my friends and learned seniors, Deacon Dele Adesina SAN, and Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN, against whom I had the privilege of contesting for the office of President of the NBA. One thing that remained unshaken throughout the election process was my utmost respect for these distinguished and respectable gentlemen. May I humbly assure them that my respect remains intact. The election is over but the work ahead of us is immense. We must now unite in order to achieve our common goal of revitalising the Bar and ensuring that our voice is firm and unshaken when we speak. I obviously cannot do this alone and will be counting on their support and counsel as we work towards Securing The Future through a United Bar that Works for All.”

He reassured lawyers that “I shall do my best to deliver on your mandate. May God bless you all and the Nigerian Bar Association.”

AKPATA_LETTER

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