ENCOMIUMS, AS YEMI AKANGBE EMERGES NBA LAGOS CHAIR

• ICT PARTNER TO GET N700K

There is palpable excitement among members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch as the first-ever branch elections via electronic voting climaxed with the election of leading corporate lawyer, Mr. Yemi Akangbe as the new branch Chairman. Akangbe, a partner at the law firm of Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe & Belgore, polled 440 (56.8%) of the 774 votes to beat his closest rival, Mr. Adebola Lema who garnered 311 votes or 40.2%. Bolatumi Animashaun came a distant third with 23 votes or 3%.

In the traditional show of sportsmanship that the branch has become accustomed to, some candidates have been calling to congratulate their opponents who won. The branch elections have often been rancour-free over the years.

Meanwhile, there are strong indications that Vote-now.com, LLC, the Jacksonville, USA based ICT Partner for the elections may receive about $2300 or N703,000 for their efforts. Mr. Richard Akintunde SAN, Chairman of the Election Committee told CITY LAWYER in an interview that “The service provider will be paid at the conclusion of the election, depending on the total number of voters registered. Their fees are estimated at about $2300 but we will have a final figure at the conclusion of the election.”

It has also been encomiums galore for the Akintunde-led committee which once again delivered rancour-free polls. Akintunde had during an interview http://citylawyermag.com/2019/06/25/we-will-deliver-rancour-free-elections-nba-lagos-cte-chair-tells-city-lawyer/ with CITY LAWYER said: “I want to assure members of the NBA Lagos Branch, candidates, eligible voters and stakeholders that with their cooperation and support, the 2019 election by e-voting will be seamless. At the end of it all, we will all congratulate ourselves.” He has been involved in branch election management since 2009, three times as Secretary to the Election Committee. He is piloting the elections as Chairman for the second consecutive term.

Some members have taunted the national body, saying the NBA National Officers Elections should henceforth be conducted by the Akintunde-led committee. While Ngozi Onwuka said that “The voting process is so easy and stress free, unlike the national election,” Queeneth Hogan said: “I must say, the convenience of this process should be emulated by our National body. Very transparent process. Kudos to the Electoral Committee. Very well done.”

Another Bar Leader, Chukwuma Ezeala said: “May I use this opportunity to congratulate the Premier Bar for their commitment to excellence. I salute in particular our Chairman, Chukwuka Ikwuazom for visionary leadership, our Electoral Committee for their hard work. The contestants were great, our friend Lema and others with laudable projects who would not serve us now. To our Chairman Elect Yemi and other officers Elect congratulations and put on your seatbelts as you must surpass where our current Chairman has taken us to. The Premier Bar must lead and others follow. Finally I say bravo to our President, Paul Usoro SAN for his leadership at the National level and request him to recommend our system to other Branches to reduce the rancorous system in most Branches.”

Okey Ilofulunwa garnered 295 or 39.6 votes to become the Vice Chairman-elect, while Chuks Nwana polled 246 or 33.0 votes and Bode Omoboriowo brought the rear with 204 or 27.4% votes. Incumbent Publicity Secretary, Mr. Moshood Abiola polled 470 or 63.7% to clinch the coveted post of Secretary, beating Tochukwu Chukwumerije and Obinna Okereke who got 208 (28.2%) and 60 (8.1%) votes.

The post of Social Secretary went to Ngozi Egeonu with 406 or 54.7% votes while her opponent Adefowoke Ayo-Ponle polled 336 or 45.3% votes. Harry Ukaejiofor got 331 or 45.8% votes to beat his closest rival, Ben Ihesiulo who polled 245 or 33.9%. Dumgbara Torbari trailed the duo with 147 or 20.3% votes. Ifeoma Ben fought a hard battle to dust two of her rivals, polling 367 or 49.5%. Elo Adhekpukoli and Hammed Bakare got 260 or 35% and 115 or 15.5% votes respectively.

Other candidates whose nominations were not opposed were returned elected. These include Foluke Akinmoladun, Treasurer; Chinenye Oragwu, Financial Secretary; Anthonia Enitan Eke, Welfare Secretary; James Sonde, Publicity Secretary and Florence Chijioke-Duru, Provost.

Both Lema and Animashuan have congratulated Akangbe on his victory. Some other candidates have also congratulated their victorious opponents. In a whatsapp post barely an hour after close of polls, Lema wrote: “Good evening learned Seniors and Colleagues. Permit me to inform you that the result of the NBA, Lagos Branch 2019 Election has just been released by the Election Committee. The result showed Mr. Yemi Akangbe scored 440 votes as against Mr. Adebola Olarotimi LEMA who scored 311 votes. Mr. Yemi Akangbe has therefore been returned Chairman-elect of the Branch and l have called to congratulate him on his victory. I thank all members of our great Branch for your time, effort, energy, commitment and support. God bless NBA Lagos Branch. Adebola Olarotimi Lema.”

On her part, Animashaun wrote: “Congratulations to you, my brother, Yemi Akangbe! I wish you a successful tenure. Well done to our Electoral Committee for a job well done. Thank you all for your cooperation.”

A similar gesture was extended to Ilofulunwa when his opponent, Chuks Nwana wrote: “Well done to the electoral committee, it was a seamless process. To the winners Congratulations. Okey my brother special congratulations to you. It’s our Bar. Long live the Premier Branch.” On his part, defeated Assiatant Secretary candidate, Elo Adhekpukoli wrote: “I just called Ifeoma Ben to congratulate her.”

Members have commended the Election Committee for organizing a seamless and transparent exercise. Other members of the committee are HRM Chief E. A. Otokhina, Mrs. Sola Adegbonmire, Mr. Geff Eze and Mrs. Obosa Akpata, Secretary of the Committee.

At least one Bar Leader has commended the losing candidates for their show of sportsmanship. In a post seen by CITY LAWYER, former NBA presidential candidate and Chairman of the Council of Legal Education (CLE), Chief Emeka Ngige SAN gave Lema a pat on the back, saying: “Well done, Lema! A gallant fighter and true sportsman! It is well!”

On his part, senior lawyer, Chief Adewale Adeniji said: “Congratulations, Yemi. I am sure you will reach out to your co-contestants, if you’ve not done so already. I wish you well in your task of following a class Act that Chairman Chukwuka has been.”

Members have also commended the foresight of the Chukwuka Ikwuazom-led Executive Committee in initiating the electronic voting system in the branch. Fiery Bar commentator, Gerty Ben-Iloegbunam wrote: “I’m most grateful to God for the Spirit that entered and controlled Chukwuka Ikwuazom to appoint this Electoral Committee headed by the Learned Silk! His uncommon integrity has brought joy and acceptance of the outcome of this just concluded election. I’m most grateful to Almighty God. Thanks once more to the outgoing Exco, while I sincerely pray and hope that the New Exco will surpass in their duty. Congratulations all.”

Senior Partner at Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL), Victor Nwakasi added his voice to the encomiums when he said: “Chukwuka Ikwuazom! Character and strength are better proven. Thanks for being a great leader, truly proven by this process.”

Many branch members contend that Ikwuazom has raised the stakes in Bar governance, adding that the incoming regime has a tough task of taking the branch a notch higher.

Congratulating the winners on their victories, Ikwuazom wrote: “I congratulate Mr. Yemi Akangbe on his emergence as Chairman Elect of the great Premier Bar. I congratulate all the successful candidates in the election. To those who did not realize their ambitions in this election, I congratulate you as well for the good fight you all fought. To my dear brother Lema, I congratulate you for being such a good sport. You are a good man and an astute bar man. On behalf of the branch, I want to thank the Chairman and members of the Electoral Committee. I know the amount of work that you put in to give us a flawless election. God bless you all. We have demonstrated by this election that we are the Premier Bar and chart the course for other branches to follow. Long live the Premier Bar! Long live the NBA.”

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2018 CITY LAWYER. 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.

WE WILL DELIVER RANCOUR-FREE ELECTIONS, NBA LAGOS C’TE CHAIR TELLS CITY LAWYER

  • UNVEILS ICT PARTNER

In this no-holds barred interview, Chairman of NBA Lagos Branch Election Committee, Mr. Richard Akintunde SAN says the elections will be free, fair and credible.

Please briefly introduce yourself.

I am Richard Ayodele Akintunde, SAN, the Chairman of the NBA Lagos Branch 2019 Election Committee

How does it feel being asked to midwife yet another election for the Premier Bar?

I am honoured to be asked once again to Chair the Election Committee of the Premier Bar. I am particularly excited because this year branch elections will be conducted by E-voting. This is a historic event and my committee members and I are super excited to be part of this history making exercise.

How will you describe your team in the Electoral Committee?

I have an excellent team made up distinguished legal practitioners and members of the NBA Lagos Branch. The team consists of HRM Chief E.A. Otokhina, Mrs. Sola Adegbonmire, Mr. Geff Eze and Mrs. Obosa Akpata who is the Secretary of the Committee. We have an excellent working relationship and we are all committed to delivering a free, fair and credible electoral process.

There are concerns that the complaints procedure for members whose names were omitted in the voters’ register is not clear-cut. For instance, some argue that the notice was silent on members submitting Bar Practicing Fees and Branch Dues receipts and that this may discourage members from following through with the process. What is your view on this?

The complaints procedure is clear cut and straightforward and it requires Branch Members whose names were not included in the List of Eligible Voters published by the Committee to submit their complaints. To be Eligible to vote you must be a Financial Member of the Branch and must have paid your bar practicing fees and annual branch dues, as and when due, for the two (2) years preceding the election or since enrolment, if less than two (2) years post-call and you must have attended 5 monthly meetings in a 12 month period preceding the elections. The criteria for eligibility to vote is contained in the Uniform Bye Laws and it was widely published by the Election Committee.

Your name will not appear on the list of Eligible Voters if you have not met these criteria. As members of the branch we all know these requirements. It behooves you therefore in your complaint to show that you have met these criteria by providing useful information [such as receipts showing that you paid your practicing fees and branch dues as required and you attended the require number of meetings] to the Election Committee to enable the Committee include such member’s name in the Supplementary List.

When the Election Committee published the List of Eligible Voters, branch members whose names who had complaints were advised to submit their complaints by email. In the course of reviewing such complaints those whose names were not found on the list of Financial Members of the Branch supplied to us by the Branch Secretariat were requested by email to submit proof of payment of bar practicing fees and annual branch dues for 2018 and 2019 as required and we have been receiving their responses.

Also the names of members who sent in their complaints were checked in the Attendance books and the minutes of meetings from June 2018 to June 2019 to confirm if they attended the 5 monthly meetings required.

Members who meet the requirements have will be included in the Supplementary list of Eligible Voters to be published by the Election Committee.

The complaint process is designed to address any mistakes or omissions on the list of eligible after which a supplementary list will be published. Members who wish to participate in the election process should not be discouraged at all, the complaint process works and we have been using the complaints process for the last 5 elections to include eligible voters whose names were omitted on a Supplementary list.

The integrity of the voters’ register has also been questioned by the observation that some candidates already cleared by your committee had their names omitted from the list. How do you respond to this?

The name of one candidate [Obinna Okereke] was omitted and we have rectified the omission. The candidates whose name was misspelt has also been rectified. The omission of one person’s name is not enough to question the integrity of the list of eligible voters. The omission was an innocent one and his name will appear on the Supplementary list. The essence of publishing the list of eligible voters no later than 14 days before the elections is to afford branch members the opportunity to complain and for the Committee to take on board the complaints and make corrections if need be. We are working day and night to attend to all complaints received. I want to assure our members that the list of eligible voters and the supplementary one coming is credible.

Some have argued that the regularization of the voters’ register ought to have been done online, especially as some registered voters may be overseas during this period. Why did your committee opt for a manual complaints and regularization process?

The initial list of eligible voters was published in hard and soft copies. The list is available online at www.nbalagoselections.com.ng The Complaints process is not manual as complaints are to be sent to the Committee by e-mail to nbaelection2019@gmail.com . The complaint will be resolved by painstakingly going through the records provided to us by the Branch Secretariat manually to show that such member paid his practicing fees and branch dues as required and attended the 5 monthly meetings required. Once this is resolved the names of successful complainants will be published in hard and soft copies. The Supplementary list will soon be available online at www.nbalagoselections.com.ng

Resolution of the complaint can only be done manually by physically going through the Attendance Register of Meetings and the records of the branch for 2018 and 2019 of Financial Members. We are using technology in the best possible way and you don’t have to be in Nigeria to log on to the website or send an e-mail.

It has been said that there is no feedback mechanism for members to know whether their complaints have been resolved. How do you respond to this?

We are in touch with members who have sent in their complaints and trust me we are resolving their complaints. We will soon publish a supplementary list of Eligible Voters. We will also let members who sent in complaints know by email why their names are not on the Supplementary list.

Your committee has not provided any Help Desk or hotline for members to make enquiries on the electoral process? Is this deliberate?

We have an e-mail nbaelection2019@gmail.com which allows the members and the public to contact the Committee and we have been attending to various enquires from members and the public sent through this e-mail address. We will set up a Help Desk after the Final Batch of Eligible Voters is published and a hotline will be provided. Members are free contact the Election Committee via e-mail.

Some candidates say that your Committee has not been carrying them along, that the processes leading to the elections have been shrouded in secrecy. What is your view on this?

The Uniform Bye Laws sets out the duties of the Election Committee and we have been carrying out our duties as set out to the letter. We have a website where all the information relating to the election is published. We have printed posters, flexes and other online materials regarding the electoral process as required by the Uniform Bye Laws. I have addressed several monthly meetings to talk about the electoral process. The processes leading to the election is not shrouded in secrecy. We are constantly publishing online materials giving information about the election process. In the history of my involvement with the election process in the NBA Lagos Branch we have never published as much information as we have done in the 2019 elections. The Committee has constantly been posting online materials and flexes giving out information on the election process. The electoral process is open and transparent. We are having a parley with candidates, agents, stakeholders and the media on Tuesday, the 25th of June 2019 and we intend to continue to engage with them. Many candidates have been contacting the Committee on one thing or the other.

Do you plan to have a stakeholders’ meeting with the candidates before the elections?

We intend to have a stakeholders meeting with all the candidates, their agents, the branch exco and the media on Tuesday the 25th of June 2019 at the NBA Lagos Branch Conference Room at 12 noon.

Some have argued that enlightenment has been low on the electoral process, especially as the electronic voting model is being adopted for the first time by the branch. How do you respond to this?

We have constantly published online materials on various platforms to enlighten Branch Members of the Step by Step process for the E-Voting. At the last Branch Meeting, I addressed the June Branch Meeting and went through the step by step process for the e-voting. I also did a demonstration of the e-voting process. Members were given the opportunity to ask questions about the process and I provided answers. We intend to have a stakeholders meeting with all the candidates, their agents, the branch Exco and the media on Tuesday the 25th of June 2019 at the NBA Branch Conference Room at 12 noon to once again explain the e-voting process step by step and do a demonstration of the voting process. We will also do the same explanation at the Manifesto Day at the Foyer at 2.00 pm on the same day.

Why is your committee still keeping the ICT Partner for the elections under wraps even days to the election?

We are not keeping the Service Provider under wraps. At the June monthly meeting of the NBA Lagos Branch, I disclosed the name of the service partner in a demonstration to all members present. The Service Provider is: vote-now.com. They are a reputable ballot service provider, with extensive experience in providing secure ballot options to various professional organizations and associations all over the world since 2003. They have conducted 2,375 ballots by e-voting till date.

What is the level of access to be given to the candidates or their agents as to the backend of the e-voting platform?

Candidates will be allowed to nominate agents who will be granted some access to the Situation Room, where the ballot process will be monitored.

Are you confident about the integrity of the e-voting platform and its ability to withstand possible attacks from hackers among others?

The election servers are protected with encrypted connections and have valid SSL certificates. All web connections are made via https with 256 bit security. Vote-now.com is certified Grade A on security when tested with the SSL labs security test. We offer all members the highest assurances of rock-solid security of the voting process.

There are concerns that non-release of the June attendance list may lead to padding of the voters’ register. Are these valid concerns? Do you plan to release the list?

The attendance register for June has been provided by the Secretariat to the Committee to enable the Committee do its work and attend to complaints. The attendance register cannot be padded while in the custody of the election committee. It is the duty of the Branch Secretariat to release the attendance list of the June meeting not that of the Election Committee.

When are campaigns expected to cease, given that the deadline is not stated on the published Guidelines?

Candidates are expected to stop all forms of campaigns by 12 midnight on Thursday the 27th of June 2019.

Only 793 eligible voters were on the voters’ list published by your committee. How many voters are ultimately expected to participate in the elections?

We will able to determine the total number of voters that will participate in the elections after we have attended to all complaints and published the Supplementary List. Watch out the list is coming out soon.

Do you have any concerns regarding the elections?

The collation of data of Eligible Voters is very critical to E-voting. So far, the Election Committee has received about 200 e-mails from Eligible Voters updating their e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Eligible Voters are required to check their information on the NBA Lagos Branch Website nbalagos.org and update their information if necessary.

Accurate date is critical to the success of the 2019 elections by e-voting. We are working assiduously to harvest the required data required. I once again use this opportunity to appeal to all eligible voters to ensure that they check with the NBA branch secretariat that their emails and phone numbers are correct. Eligible voters can also supply their telephone and emails to the Committee at nbaelection2019@gmail.com

When are the results of the elections expected?

The results will be announced shortly after the conclusion of the e-voting exercise. Will there be a paper trail for the results of the elections? The service provider will make available a breakdown of the results after the election, showing a transparent and auditable process.

Is there any complaints procedure for candidates who may wish to contest the results?

There is no complaints procedure in the NBA uniform Bye-Law for Branches. Candidates have already signed on their nomination forms that they will abide by the result of the elections.

What are your last words for voters and other stakeholders?

I want to thank the candidates, the branch Exco and branch members for their cooperation thus far. I want to appeal to eligible voters to familiarize themselves with the step by step guide to e-voting which has been posted on several platforms and on www.nbalagoselections.com.ng

I want to assure members of the NBA Lagos Branch, candidates, eligible voters and stakeholders that with their cooperation and support, the 2019 election by e-voting will be seamless. At the end of it all, we will all congratulate ourselves. On behalf of the Election Committee, I thank you for this opportunity.

NBA LAGOS ELECTIONS: CONCERNS MOUNT ON E-VOTING SYSTEM

Some stakeholders have raised concerns over the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch Elections scheduled to hold on Friday.

The stakeholders told CITY LAWYER that while the integrity of the Electoral Committee is not in doubt, some of the processes leading to the high-stakes elections leave a sour taste in their mouth.

This comes against the backdrop of postponement of the highly anticipated “Manifesto Day” earlier scheduled for tomorrow to Tuesday at 1:45 pm. The postponement is not unconnected with the investiture of former Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Opeyemi Oke as a Fellow of the Institute of Criminology and Penology at the High Court Foyer earlier slated for the Manifesto Day.

According to some of the candidates, enlightenment on the electronic voting system is poor, moreso as the branch is deploying the e-voting system for the first time.

They also poked holes in the complaints processes for the cleaning up of the voters’ register. According to them, many eligible voters may be disenfranchised as the initial notice on omitted names did not request members to send in their Bar Practicing Fee and Branch Dues receipts.

A notice cited by CITY LAWYER as published on the election website stated that “ANY COMPLAINT REGARDING THE FINAL LIST OF ELIGIBLE VOTERS FOR THE 2019 ELECTIONS SCHEDULED TO HOLD ON FRIDAY THE 28TH OF JUNE 2019 SHOULD BE SENT BY EMAIL TO nbaelection2019@gmail.com ON OR BEFORE WEDNESDAY THE 19TH OF JUNE 2019. ELIGIBLE VOTERS SHOULD PLEASE VISIT THE NBA LAGOS BRANCH SECRETARIAT TO VERIFY THAT THEIR EMAIL ADDRESSES AND PHONE NUMBERS ARE ACCURATE.”

“Several members reached out to us on this, saying it was only after they sent in their complaints that they were directed to attach these documents,” a candidate told CITY LAWYER at the weekend. “Some potential voters are even giving up after several attempts to send in their complaints.” It was also noted that there was no feedback from the Electoral Committee to members on whether their complaints are being resolved or not.

The stakeholders also say that barely a few days to the elections, they are in the dark as to the framework being put in place by the Electoral Committee for the elections. “We are worried that the disclosure levels are rather low,” said the candidate. “We are not being carried along. There is no information on the processes. We do not know who the ICT Partner will be. The integrity of the Electoral Committee is not the issue. How do you monitor an electoral process you know nothing about?”

Another stakeholder told CITY LAWYER that the integrity of the voters’ register must not be put in doubt. His words: “It is crucial that we have in place a credible voters’ register. This is non-negotiable. There is also no official Help Desk or hotline published by the Electoral Committee for potential voters to follow-up on their complaints.

“There is no reason why the attendance list for the June Branch Meeting should not be in the public domain by now; transparency demands that. We must eschew padding of the voters’ register.

“Till date, there is also no notice on when electioneering campaigns should cease. This is important so that everyone is on the same page on the electoral guidelines. This is the first time that e-voting is being used. This entails that we must be extra careful.

“Why is the database not published on the election website or online so that members can update their details there? I know some members who are overseas as we speak. Will they not be disenfranchised by this manual approach to the complaints? Why do we then call it electronic voting if members cannot update their data online and vote from any part of the world?”

One of the candidates told CITY LAWYER that it is imperative that the Electoral Committee convenes a stakeholders’ meeting to be attended by the media to unveil its framework for the elections. “We need to have a forum to ventilate our concerns to the Electoral Committee. So far, that has not happened. That needs to happen. What will be the level of involvement of our agents in the entire electoral process? We need to be in the server room as the votes are dropping; that is an irreducible minimum. We do not want a situation where the backend is opened to rig the process.”

It is estimated that Lagos Branch has about 14,000 nominal members. However, only 793 voters are on the voters’ register published by the Electoral Committee. More names may make the list following ongoing resolution of complaints by the Electoral Committee. Members of the longstanding committee are Mr. Richard Akintunde SAN, Chairman; Chief E. A. Otokhina; Mr. Geff Eze; Mrs. Obosa Akpata and Mrs. Olusola Adegbonmire.

When CITY LAWYER contacted Akintunde on the concerns, he assured that he would respond to all the issues raised by the stakeholders.

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com.

Copyright 2018 CITY LAWYER. 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.