NBA ELECTION AUDIT C’TE INVITES MEMORANDA

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Electoral Reform and Audit Committee (NBA-ERAC) has asked stakeholders to submit memoranda for a successful audit of the 2016, 2018 and 2020 Elections and reform of NBA’s electoral system.

In a statement today signed by Mr. Ayodele Akintunde SAN and Mrs. Nnenna Uko, its Chairman and Secretary respectively, the committee stated that all memoranda must be submitted “on or before 6.00 pm on Monday, November 2, 2020.”

Below is the full text of the statement.

NBA ELECTORAL REFORM AND AUDIT COMMITTEE: INVITATION TO SUBMIT MEMORANDA FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COMMITTEE

Distinguished Colleague,

The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olumide Akpata on the 30th of September 2020 inaugurated the NBA Electoral Reform and Audit Committee (“the Committee”) comprising of;

Ayodele Akintunde, SAN (Chairman)
Hon. Mike Igini (Vice Chairman)
Nnenna Uko (Secretary)
Andrew Odum
Altine Ibrahim
Ama Etuwewe SAN
Basil Udotai
Hadiza Nasir Ahmad
John Owubokiri
Mas’ud Alabalewe
Oludayo Olorunfemi
Rotimi Ogunyemi
Joyce Oduah FICMC (NBA General Secretary)

At the inaugural meeting of the Committee held on the same day, the Committee resolved to invite members of the NBA, branches of the NBA and all stakeholders to submit Memoranda in line with the Committee’s terms of reference below:

(a) To audit the elections of National Officers of the NBA of 2016, 2018 and 2020 and recommend reforms if any of the electoral process.

(b) To receive Memoranda and carry out extensive consultations across all demographics of the NBA on the experiences of the 2016, 2018 and 2020 NBA Elections in order to make recommendations that will strengthen the conduct of transparent, free, fair and credible elections of National Officers of the NBA.

(c) To review post-election audit reports for the 2016, 2018 and 2020 election of National Officers of the NBA by the Election Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (“ECNBA”) or any other body appointed to conduct the post-election Audits.

(d) To identify any issues, failures or irregularities with the process and conduct of the 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections of the National Officers of the NBA and make recommendations.

(e) To study the provisions of the NBA Constitution (as amended) on elections of National Officers of the NBA and propose amendments as may be deemed necessary.

(f) To identify international best practices on elections of Professional Associations similar to the NBA that will impact positively on the quality and credibility of elections of the National officers of the NBA NBA.

(g) To review the efficiency of the National Secretariat in assisting the Election Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) and make recommendations to strengthen the role of the ECNBA and its independence in dealing directly with branches on data collation and management with minimal interference of the National Secretariat of the NBA.

(h) To review and recommend ways to strengthen data collation, storage and management for elections.

(i) To work on all such areas that would improve Data Collection of Members of the NBA and Electronic Voting to guarantee free, fair, transparent and credible elections.

(j) To do anything that the Committee may consider relevant or necessary in connection with these terms of reference.

(k) To make recommendations deemed necessary for the realization of these terms of reference

The Committee has till the 31st of December 2020 to deliver its assignment.

In view of the short timeline of the Committee to deliver on the assignment, the Committee hereby calls for Memoranda from members of the NBA, branches of the NBA and all stakeholders. All Memoranda must not be more than 6 pages, using 12 font size of either Arial or Times New Roman; and must be limited to the terms of reference specified above.

The Memoranda is to be addressed to the “Chairman, NBA Electoral Reform and Audit Committee” and submitted in soft copies by e-mail to: nbaelectoralreform@gmail.com on or before 6.00 pm on Monday, November 2, 2020.

Ayo Akintunde, SAN                                                     Nnenna N Uko (Mrs.)
NBA ERAC Chair                                                              NBA ERAC Secretary

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NBA ELECTION CRISIS: AUDIT TO THE RESCUE?

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

As the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 2020 Election inches to a close, the much anticipated inaugural audit of the election may be the elixir needed to calm frayed nerves and pull the poll away from the usual rancour that has bedeviled previous exercises.

Signs that the election may walk the troubled part of past polls emerged today when one of the presidential candidates, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN wrote to the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) demanding cancellation of the election.

In a petition to the electoral committee, Adesina alleged that the election is fraught with irregularities, saying that the voters’ list “contained grave errors of omission and commission.” He listed some of the errors to include:

  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;
  5. Many Members names found their way to Branches other than their own Branch.

Adesina stated that though he took up the matter with NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN as well as with a member of the Electoral Committee, “Some explanations were made though unsatisfactory by which time voting had actually started.” He stated that the Electoral Committee “admitted this error” in their Statement No. 019 when they stated that “the situation is regretted but arose because members in the course of Verification did not fully update information on their current Branches and/or sex.” He however noted that “nothing was done to rectify the situation.”

The presidential candidate also alleged that the voters’ register was padded with over 180 voters, saying: “The Addition of Votes Recorded plus Notices yet undelivered amounted to 29,820 which is 185 votes over and above the total number of voters on the Voters Register.”

He also alleged that “the System used for this Election was said to have been registered the very day the Election was to start and MoU was signed on that same day. This was done all alone by the President of the NBA.” He added that “There was no opportunity to interrogate the System before the commencement of the Election in order to determine its vulnerability, security and capacity.”

Adesina has practically rejected the outcome of the election, calling it a “sham.” His words: “I call on you Mr. Chairman and Members of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association to cancel this sham Election. It is needless to say that if the process is bad, the product cannot be good.”

A similar statement by the Dele Adesina Support Group is fundamentally on all fours with Adesina’s petition. Its list of alleged infractions includes the following:

  1. Failure to release the final voters list within constitutionally prescribed period.
  2. Over 4000 names were without Branches as required by the NBA Constitution.
  3. 86 lawyers were described as belonging to International Diaspora contrary to the provision of the NBA Constitution.
  4. Padding of Voters’ list of some Branches, and reduction in the number of published voters’ list of others. An example is Obollo-Afor Branch which has over 661 names on the voters list when the actual voters list is less than 60.
  5. Several branches had names of hitherto eligible voters removed from the final list.
  6. Several members had their names listed in Branches other than theirs.
  7. Many members have reported that they received notification of confirmation of voting when they neither received voting links nor voted.

At least one candidate for the post of General Secretary also complained bitterly to CITY LAWYER on what is generally perceived as a highly jaundiced voters’ list.

There is no gainsaying that the verified voters’ list as released by the electoral committee was seemingly an anti-climax, as it failed to build on the more robust “final list” released by the ECNBA. Apparently, the “clean up” of the final voters’ list was largely unsuccessful. It also does not seem that the electoral committee’s explanation on the issue fully exonerates it from blame. For example, how does it explain the increase in the number of voters for Obollo Afor by about 600 among sundry gaps.

Also, it is yet to be determined the number of eager and eligible voters who were disenfranchised by non-receipt of voting links either via email or short messaging service. While some of the affected voters contacted CITY LAWYER on the subject, subsequent feedback was not quite satisfactory.

There is no gainsaying that the electoral committee got it right with its appointment of ELECTIONBUDDY, a world class voting management software for the election. The Help Desk was also generally functional.

However, it is instructive that the voters’ list is not only central to any election, but is especially critical for electronic voting given the garbage in-garbage out concept.

It is refreshing that the ECNBA has promised an audit of the election. Hopefully, a comprehensive audit will answer all the posers raised by the stakeholders and pull the association back from another tumultuous era.

 

Obi Okafor Queries KPMG’s Appointment

* Questions Mahmoud’s Power to Appoint Auditor

* Lists Issues Probe Must Tackle

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN has queried the authority of former NBA President, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN to appoint an auditor for the just concluded National Officers Elections. Continue Reading

WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Audit Will Not Alter Election Results – Yadudu

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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