What Usoro Told Obi Okafor, Ojukwu

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President-elect, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN had written to his co-contestants for NBA Presidency, seeking their cooperation towards a successful tenure.

The letter, which was copied to all NBA current and past presidents, has generated much furore.

Below is the controversial letter as obtained by CITY LAWYER:

On ‎Friday‎, ‎August‎ ‎24‎, ‎2018‎ ‎02‎:‎33‎:‎36‎ ‎PM‎ ‎WAT, Paul Usoro, SAN <paul@xxxxxx> wrote:

Dear Current and Past Presidents

On second thoughts, I decided I should make you privy to my self-explanatory mail below to my brothers, Ernest and Arthur. It would be my joy to work with both of them for the common good of the NBA and I respectfully and most humbly implore you to join voices with me to intercede and direct the three of us towards that common goal, in the terms of my mail to them. I thank you all and pray for Divine blessings and protection for you and your families.

Best

Paul Usoro, SAN
Senior Partner

From: Paul Usoro <paul@xxxxxx>
Date: Friday, August 24, 2018 at 1:59 PM
To: “Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN” <arthur@xxxxxx>, Ernest Ojukwu <ernestojukwu2@xxxxxx>
Subject: Nigerian Bar Association

My dear brothers Ernest and Arthur

Soon after the NBA Elections last Monday, 20 August 2018 I called both of you (same day in regard to Arthur and on Wednesday, 23 August 2018 in regard to Ernest) but you both must’ve been busy and couldn’t take my calls. I also left WhatsApp messages on your phone but again, your schedules may not have permitted you to revert. I had intended to use my calls to reach both of you and solicit your support for my running of the NBA, post the elections; not having reached you nor heard from you, I thought it wise not to wait any further but to articular my thoughts vide this e-mail.

Let me start by first stating that I fully understand your respective feelings and belief that you and not me should’ve won the NBA Presidential election. I probably would’ve felt the same way, perhaps, not as heated, if I had lost. I’m however reminded of the fact that, win or lose in an NBA election, we, the three of us, remain learned friends, brother Silks and kinsmen from Eastern Nigeria. Those are strong unbreakable bonds that NBA election, win or lose, should not and must not put asunder. Indeed, a win by any of us ought to have been and should be seen as a win for all of us, given those bonds that I’ve listed. It is in that spirit that I’m truly and earnestly extending my hands of brotherhood to both of you and appealing that we sheath swords and join hands in reshaping the NBA into an institution that we all can take pride in.

In truth, beyond the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that I’ve highlighted above, there’s a lot more that binds us together as far as the NBA is concerned. By virtue of our ranks, we’re all leaders of the profession and each of us is eminently qualified to lead the Bar – at least, that’s what I believe in regard to you two. Indeed, our Election Manifestoes shared some common features with the difference being only in the modalities and strategies for achieving those common objectives. Our three Manifestoes, for example, talked about welfare issues for lawyers, not least, the young lawyers, we all talked about an inclusive Bar where there’ll be standing room for all lawyers irrespective of gender, age, ability/disability etc. and we also talked about giving voice to the voiceless and the promotion of the rule of law, amongst others.

These and much more were our common agenda items during the elections and I believe that the Bar will be greatly enriched if we were to join hands to achieve these and several other goals that we so beautifully articulated in our respective Manifestoes. Just think of it: can you imagine what pride we bring to Eastern Nigeria and indeed the profession if we were to work together along these lines, and, God being on our side, we achieve great things for the NBA during my tenure as the President of the NBA? In two years, we’ll jointly be the toast of the Bar and indeed of Nigeria if we seize this moment. I truly request you to think of my proposition even as I look forward to the opportunity of sitting with you, jointly or separately, to advance and flesh out such a course while harmonizing our thoughts in that regard.

I thank you for taking the time to read this “epistle” and look forward to an indication from you on the convenient time that I may call you, respectively, to advance discussions on these matters. Meanwhile, please, feel free to reach me by sms or whatsapp or e-mail. Do have a restful weekend and see you at the AGC.

Best

Paul Usoro, SAN

Senior Partner

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BREAKING: How NBA Election Was Rigged, by Arthur Obi Okafor

* Election a ‘Robbery’

* ECNBA Ignored our Inputs

* Unveils 4000 Fake Phone Numbers

A presidential candidate in the just concluded Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Officers Elections, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN has detailed how the election was allegedly rigged.

In a “preliminary release” by Mr. Olumuyiwa Olowokure, Leader of the Arthur Obi Okafor SAN Technical Team, the campaign directorate described the elections as a “robbery,” adding that it had identified no less than 4000 fake telephone numbers and 1004 fake emails deployed to rig the elections.

The statement reads:

PRELIMINARY RELEASE ON IRREGULARITIES IDENTIFIED IN THE JUST CONCLUDED NBA ELECTIONS

One can confidently say the alleged victory of Paul Usoro SAN at the recently conducted NBA elections is the biggest embarrassment and robbery that members of NBA have ever experienced since the formation of NBA.

You would recall that there were serious reservations in some quarters about permitting Chams to participate in providing services in this election in any form or manner. As a result of these reservations a company known as CRENET was brought in to repeat the vilified verification exercise previously conducted by Chams. For some inexplicable reason Chams was retained to provide the voting platform despite it being established that the Chairman of Chams Plc and Paul Usoro SAN are co-directors of Access Bank and are members of same committees of Access Bank. Trusting in the assurances given by the President of NBA A.B Mahmoud SAN and the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) the other candidates decided to participate in the election with Chams involved.

ECNBA to its credit leading up to the elections adopted a somewhat participatory approach with the Presidential candidates and often sought their opinions before implementing decisions. Even then, the first danger signal and sign that there was a deliberate attempt to rig this election came when we discovered that close to 4000 names had telephone numbers assigned to them that were not the stated owners numbers but belonged to other persons. An example of this was in the list of eligible voters submitted by Abuja branch, the telephone number of one Blossom Barrakah Esq (2017 call set) was repeated as the valid telephone number of 41 other lawyers on the eligible voters list. Likewise the telephone number of Noah Ajare Esq a known and ardent supporter of Paul Usoro SAN appeared 15 times against different lawyers names. What made the danger signals more frightening was that Noah Ajare was the caretaker secretary of Abuja branch at the time of the submission of the Abuja branch list of eligible voters and he was the person that compiled and submitted the Abuja Branch list to ECNBA.

We have a comprehensive list of the nearly 4000 instances of duplicate telephone numbers that appeared in ECNBA’s original voter’s list and have attached same for ease of reference (Annex A ). We also have strong reason to believe that there were far more than 4000 of such instances. Rather than treat this occurrence as a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of the Elections and move decisively against the perpetrators, ECNBA for some reason chose to allow the perpetrators to still participate in the election, eg. our records show the said Noah Ajare despite his actions aforesaid was verified and cleared to vote in this election.

As the elections drew closer things started to go terribly wrong;

The first problem was that CRENET was not given enough time to perfect the excellent security procedures that they had put in place to ensure that members’ votes were not hijacked. The verification process became laboured and extremely difficult for members and as a result of extreme pressure from many quarters, especially from the President of NBA, ECNBA in consultation with the President of the NBA took a decision to relax the security procedures put in place by CRENET to make the verification process ‘faster’. This decision was fatal because it became the very reason why this election was so badly rigged.

The relaxing of the security procedures meant members were now allowed to go straight to the verification portal and enter any details they liked without restriction. It also meant that unscrupulous persons would also now be able to verify for other lawyers without them knowing and hijack their votes by inserting different email addresses and telephone numbers ; this is precisely what happened in this election. This is precisely what we had continually warned against but our warnings fell on deaf ears.

We eventually agreed to the relaxing of the security protocols by CRENET but we did so on the following conditions;

i. Any change effected in a lawyer’s details must be in line with data already in NBA’s database. i.e genuine mistakes can be changed but other changes should be cleared through bar services after satisfying itself that the rationale for such changes was genuine.

ii. The comprehensive list of verified voters to be uploaded on to the CHAMS voting platform by CRENET shall be given to candidates to peruse to enable them comment and give observations before uploading and before the commencement of the elections.

iii. All names associated with any form of duplication of telephone numbers and email addresses would be quarantined and only included in the final verification list if the lawyers concerned came forward and gave their true and correct phone numbers and email addresses which should conform with records already contained in the NBA database.

Conditions i) and iii) above were totally disregarded by ECNBA, while the verified voters list as specified in condition ii) above was not given to candidates until after the election had already started. This in effect meant that candidates’ agreement to remove the security protocols was obtained on false pretences and candidates were actually being led like lambs into a slaughterhouse.

A day before the election we discovered from the verification portal the incidences of some strange looking email addresses that surfaced as lawyers alleged email addresses for the first time. These email addresses predominantly came from three domains “Openmailbox.org”, “firemail.cc” and “airmail.cc”. We alerted ECNBA to the sudden existence of these strange email addresses in a meeting which took place between the Presidential Candidates representatives and ECNBA on 17th August 2018. We also suggested at the same meeting after watching Chams demonstration of the voting process that passwords to vote should be sent automatically to both emails and telephone numbers so that if a prospective voter’s email had been tampered with he/she would still know through SMS if somebody was attempting to vote on his/her behalf.

When we realised our concerns above were not being addressed by ECNBA we sent an email to ECNBA at about 1:53pm on Saturday 18th August 2018 reiterating our concerns and requesting that emails from such domains should be disallowed as our investigations had shown the email addresses did not belong to the lawyers indicated in the verified voter’s list (Annex B).When we still did not receive any response from ECNBA we sent another email on 19th August 2018 at about 7.54am giving full details of the suspected emails and the lawyers affected, (Annex C) . Details of the lawyers affected and the offending emails is attached. (Annex D)

The breakdown of the details of our initial investigations sent to ECNBA well before the conclusion of the elections shows that;

Openmailbox.org email addresses were fraudulently used to replace the email addresses of 196 Lawyers without their consent
Firemail.cc email addresses were fraudulently used to replace the email addresses of 203 Lawyers without their consent.
Airmail.cc email addresses were fraudulently used to replace the email addresses of 605 Lawyers without their consent.

The implication of the above is that there were a total of 1004 of these bogus email addresses used to harvest the votes of unsuspecting members. Further investigation has shown that two of the above mentioned domain names belong to closed user groups, whose members can only obtain email addresses in such domains if they are specifically invited to the group. The real owners cannot be traced, in fact a common feature of these closed user groups is that they are associated with scams, hacking, malware and ransomware. Did ECNBA not have technical advice? Why was this development not addressed or arrested when it came to the committees notice?

Abdullahi Karaye Musa Esq of Ungogo branch (No 213 on the Airmail.CC list) and Emmanuel Yokpe Nenmasha of Jos Branch (No 579 on the Airmail.CC list) have detailed their ordeals of having their right to vote hijacked (Kindly find attached Annexes E and F). A similar experience of hijacked voting was specifically documented by the following three members of Ahoada branch; Ogbobula Isaac Abbot (No 4 on the Firemail.cc list), Okpara Uchevenotu Ezor (No 1 on the firemail.cc list) and Lauretta U. Nwokaeze (No. 68 on the Firemail.cc list). All 1004 on the said list have a story to tell and we will soon release a branch by branch account of members whose votes were hijacked using the fraudulent emails above. We have so far identified the precise branches of 656 of the lawyers already mentioned in the list of 1004 (Annex G) and will identify the branches of at least 348 other cheated voters shortly.

We are also gathering information that shows that even email addresses from regular domain names were used to hijack votes and will release same soonest. Needless to say the 1004 incidences of glaring malpractice already identified are enough to show that in an Election that ECNBA claims was won by 80 something votes cannot stand. I have only stated facts in this report there is no conjecture or guessing there are just plain facts.

We still expect the current leadership of NBA to act and cancel this fault laden process that declared Paul Usoro SAN the winner of the election.

Kind regards

O.O. Olowokure Esq.
Leader AOOSAN Technical Team

BREAKING: Usoro Wins, Obi Okafor ‘Withdraws’

Mr. Paul Usoro SAN may be declared winner of the hotly contested NBA Elections, even as his closest rival, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN may have withdrawn from the race, citing “surges of votes in favour of Paul Usoro SAN.”

Sources close to the ECNBA Situation Room said Usoro may coast to victory with less than one hundred votes.

Meanwhile, there are strong indications that Mr. Jonathan Taidi has won the post of General Secretary with a wide margin.

The petition by Arthur Obi Okafor Campaign Directorate reads:

20th August 2018
The Chairman
ECNBA
NBA Secretariat
Abuja

Dear Sir

This is to inform you that having reviewed the events leading up to and during the elections Arthur Obi Okafor SAN states categorically that he withdraws from this election and cannot accept the outcome of the result.

Inexplicable and strange surges of votes in favour of Paul Usoro SAN and the glaring incidences of hijacked votes makes it clear the result of this election cannot stand.

An acceptable participatory post election Audit of International standard will bear out our grievances in this regard.

Thank you

O.O.Olowokure Esq
For Arthur Obi Okafor SAN

 

Arthur is Widely Accepted by Lawyers – Phillip Umeh

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) General Secretary, Chief Phillip Ndubuisi Umeh has added his voice to that of key stakeholders who have endorsed Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN to become the next NBA president. Continue Reading

NASS SIEGE: A Sad Day for Democracy – Arthur Obi Okafor

A top contender for the post of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidency, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN has described Tuesday’s invasion of the National Assembly complex by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) as “a sad day for democracy.” Continue Reading

‘Those Seeking Return of CHAMS Desperate,’ Says Ex NBA Scribe

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch Secretary and a key supporter of Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN, Mr. Adebola Lema has blasted those calling for a return of CHAMS Plc in the troubled verification exercise for the NBA National Officers Elections. Okafor is one of the three presidential candidates in the elections. Continue Reading

NBA PRESIDENCY: OBEGOLU BACKS ARTHUR OBI OKAFOR

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) General Secretary, Chief Emeka Obegolu has urged lawyers to elect Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN as the next NBA President.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER and titled “A New Bar Beckons,” Obegolu who is also the Vice President of Pan Africa Lawyers Union (PALU), said: Continue Reading