Any hopes by defeated candidates in the recent Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Officers Elections that an audit will upturn the outcome of the elections has been dashed by the Electoral Committee of NBA (ECNBA) Chairman, Prof. Auwalu Yadudu.
It is recalled that a presidential candidate in the elections, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN had specifically requested an audit of the elections as a pre-condition to cooperate with NBA President-elect, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN.
But Yadudu while responding to enquiries by CITY LAWYER, foreclosed any possibility that the audit will reverse the election results as declared by the ECNBA.
His words: “A post election audit will be carried out as promised. However, it is not to validate or invalidate the result announced.”
This is bound to rattle some of the candidates who are hoping that the planned audit may void some of the results declared by the ECNBA.
Asked to respond to allegations by Okafor and Prof. Ernest Ojukwu SAN, the two other presidential candidates, that the elections were riddled with rigging among other infractions, the ECNBA Chairman declined comment, saying: “Sorry l cannot comment on views by others about or in any matter pertaining to (the) election.”
When CITY LAWYER asked the veteran law teacher for suggestions on electoral reforms, he also side-stepped the issue, saying: “These are matters that will go into (our) report. So it will not be proper to address (same) in the press.”
He however noted that the NBA National Executive Committee meeting which held yesterday did not ratify the outcome of the elections but merely the change in date. His words: “NEC did not ratify the election. It ratified the timing by which the ECNBA held the election in August instead of July.”
It is recalled that CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report revealed that Usoro is a co-director at Access Bank Plc with Dr. (Mrs.) Ajoritsedere Josephine Awosika, the first female Chairman of CHAMS Plc. CHAMS was originally hired by the ECNBA as its sole ICT Partner for the elections. It eventually deployed its voting portal for the elections.
The CITY LAWYER report had raised concerns on the integrity of NBA’s electoral process and the ability of the ECNBA to deliver free, fair and credible elections.
Following petitions by candidates and a flurry of meetings, outgoing NBA President, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN had initiated several electoral reforms to reassure stakeholders.
In a press statement dated July 21, 2018 Mahmoud had promised that an audit of the elections will be carried out.
His words: “The ECNBA will develop a post-election audit framework and process and may engage an independent entity for that purpose.”
Usoro was declared winner of the hotly contested poll on August 20, three weeks after the initial date set for the conclusion of the elections.
Both Okafor and Ojukwu rejected the results, alleging rigging and other electoral infractions.
Though the elections were conducted in August as against July specified in the NBA Constitution, the NBA-NEC yesterday ratified the shift in date, clearing the way for Usoro to be sworn-in as the 29th NBA President.
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