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.

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

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 WINS: AJIBADE, ALEGEH, YLF, EBF, MID-WEST FORUM HAIL HIM

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

At exactly 12:53 am early today, the Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA), Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN declared Tier-One solicitor, Mr. Olumide Akpata as winner of the NBA presidential election held last Wednesday and Thursday. Akpata is billed to be sworn in late August as the 30th NBA President.

The announcement of the official results, monitored by CITY LAWYER, was broadcast live on many social media handles and witnessed by ECNBA members, a broadcast station and some agents of the candidates in the election.

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.

According to the ECNBA Chairman, 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. 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 irregularities. The election was held via electionbuddy, an electronic voting software deployed by Edmonton, Canada based firm.

Other winners are John Martin who polled 6,010 votes to clinch the post of NBA First Vice President; Adeyemo Kazeem (Second Vice President with 8,794 votes); Joyce Oduah (General Secretary with 8,979 votes); Olukunle Edun (Welfare Secretary with 9001 votes); Rapulu Nduka (Publicity Secretary with 11,964 votes); Uchenna Nwadialo (Assistant Secretary with 7,314 votes) and Naza Afam (Assistant Publicity Secretary with 6,490 votes). Mercy Ijato Agada (Treasurer) and Raphael Anagor (Financial Secretary) polled 16, 487 votes and 15,824 votes as unopposed candidates.

Though Ajibade poked holes in the electoral process, he said in a statement that he had “called Mr. Olumide Akpata and congratulated him on his election as the 30th President of our great association, the Nigerian Bar Association, in the elections held on 29th – 30th July 2020.”

Commending the “level of the debate and the quality of the ideas that were brought forth,” Ajibade however expressed dissatisfaction with the electoral process, saying: “It is unfortunate that the process leading up to and during the election itself have, once again, not been devoid of controversy.  It is my fervent hope that we will get over these repeated challenges with conducting objectively free and fair elections into the leadership positions in the association.”

Saying that “we cannot succeed in addressing the challenges confronting our profession unless we unite,” Ajibade added: “I urge the incoming President and his executive to take deliberate and proactive steps to unite the Bar.”

Meanwhile, several Bar Leaders and forums have also congratulated Akpata on his victory.

Influential former NBA President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN, who is believed to be a staunch supporter of Akpata, said: “I most heartily congratulate Olumide Akpata Esq. on his election as the 30th President of the NBA. I also felicitate with the other elected National Officers on their victory at the polls and urge Members of our Association to support the newly elected National Officers as they take steps to deliver on their mandate to lead the Bar for the next 2 years.”

He commended Adesina and Ajibade “for their maturity and candor,” and urged them to “work with the incoming President in his efforts to make Our Association better. This is a time for unity in the best interest of the Association.”

Saying the election would not have been possible due to the coronavirus pandemic save for the introduction of electronic voting, Alegeh stated that “elections are never perfect.” He urged the incoming administration to “improve on the gains recorded in the electronic voting system that guarantees universal suffrage under our Constitution.”

Commending the Usoro Administration “for the successful conduct of the elections and the efforts so far in moving the Bar forward on several fronts,” the erstwhile NBA President whose regime introduced universal suffrage and electronic voting said: “I know that the Incoming-President will be magnanimous in victory and will run an all-inclusive administration geared towards improving the NBA to handle its core mandate of promoting the rule of law, human rights as well as the welfare of its Members.”

The NBA Young Lawyers Forum (NBA-YLF) also congratulated Akpata and other elected National Officers on their victory. In a statement by the Chairman and Secretary of its Governing Council, Tobi Adebowale and Patricia Udeh, it said “The YLF remains unequivocally willing and available to engage with all relevant stakeholders for the benefit of Young Lawyers and all other members of the NBA.”

In a statement by the factional Chairman of Mid-West Bar Forum, Chief Chike Onyemenam SAN, the body congratulated Akpata, Aikpokpo-Martins and Edun on their “resounding and landslide victory,” adding that “by your victory at the polls which was  democratic, transparent and clearly demonstrated your acceptance by the entire members of the Nigerian Bar Association devoid of tribal or sectional considerations, you have done the members  of the 14 N.B.A. branches  of the Mid-West Bar Forum proud and  demonstrated to all that in spite of the shortcomings of the political class in our great nation’s efforts at democracy, Nigerian lawyers are still capable of conducting their own affairs in a democratic manner.”

On its part, the Eastern Bar Forum (EBF) in a statement by the Chairman, Mr. S. Long Williams, congratulated Akpata and other elected officers. It noted some lapses that bedeviled the poll, but described the election as “free, fair and credible.”

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 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.

 

ADESINA ASKS ECNBA TO CANCEL ONGOING NBA ELECTION

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN has asked the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) to cancel the ongoing National Officers Election, saying it is fraught with irregularities.

In a letter to ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Tawo SAN 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;
5. Many Members names found their way to Branches other than their own Branch.

According to Adesina, “I took this matter up in a telephone discussion with the other two Presidential Candidates, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN and Olumide Akpata Esq. and a preferred suggestion was made that the matter be taken up informally with the Committee Members in the interest of the integrity of the Association. In furtherance of this, I raised the above issues with the President of the NBA and a member of the Electoral Committee. Some explanations were made though unsatisfactory by which time voting had actually started. The Electoral Committee admitted this error in their Statement No. 019 when they said among other things 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.” Yet, nothing was done to rectify the situation.”

He 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.”

Delivering his verdict, Adesina said: “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.”

In a similar statement sent to CITY LAWYER and signed by Mr. Adesina Adegbite, National Coordinator of Dele Adesina Support Group, the group listed several infractions which it alleged marred the poll, saying: “From the foregoing, there is no doubt that the ongoing NBA Election lacks all features of credibility and transparency. We are therefore by this notice demanding immediate suspension of the ongoing election process to a later date when a clean list must have been prepared and published. The ongoing process is discredited and does not represent the dignity of our most honourable profession.”

Titled “RE: THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION 2020 NATIONAL OFFICERS ELECTION: PETITION AGAINST THE MANAGEMENT OF THE ELECTORAL PROCESS,” the statement also listed some of the alleged infractions to include:

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.

DASAN PETITION

ADESINA STATEMENT

ECNBA SAYS 13,000 VOTERS HAVE CAST BALLOTS

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has stated that over 13,000 lawyers have voted in the ongoing NBA National Officers Election, even as the electoral umpire is worried that many eligible voters may not receive their voting links due to telecommunication challenges.

Below is the full text of the ECNBA statement:

The ECNBA can confirm that over 13,000 individuals have voted in the ongoing NBA National Officers elections so far.

The ECNBA however clarifies that, Notices observed on the live voting platform as undeliverable can be attributable to any of the following 5 reasons:

  1. Voter has an inactive Phone Number
  2. Voter has invalid Phone Number (does not exist or is too short or too long)
  3. Voter has invalid Email Address (Wrongly spelt and does not exist OR their Domain has expired)
  4. Spam Filter on Voter’s email blocking direct delivery of emails. Voter can check Spam folder.
  5. DND is active on Voter’s phone and the message has been blocked by Telecommunication company.

 To deactivate DND take the following action:

  • 9mobile (Etisalat) numbers, Text START to 2442.
  • MTN numbers, Text ALLOW to 2442.
  • Glo numbers, Text CANCEL to 2442.
  • Airtel numbers, Text ALLOW to 2442.

Note also that the election server makes 5 attempts to deliver to each phone number/email and all those failed attempts are reflected as undeliverable. A subsequent attempt could still be successful if the challenge is resolved.

The ECNBA can confirm at the last check that at least 1,886 individuals of the Undeliverable Notices displayed on the live monitoring platform have since voted, because they got the message through one of the two channels used – Email or SMS.  The committee also confirms that messages have been sent using local networks to up to 8,000 numbers with active DND advising them to deactivate same.

Voters yet to view the election link through their email or SMS, are advised to ensure that DND is deactivated on their phones and check Spam folder in their emails.

The ECNBA continues to monitor and troubleshoot and will provide updates as necessary and required.

The ECNBA election hotline 070055552020 is still available for support to voters.

Dated this 30th day of July, 2020

Cordelia U. Eke(Mrs.)

Secretary, ECNBA

29,635 VOTERS TO ELECT NEXT NBA PRESIDENT

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

  • ECNBA PURGES 1604 NAMES FROM VOTERS’ LIST

  • BARS FURTHER CAMPAIGNS

  • WARNS AGAINST PARALLEL ‘HELP DESKS’

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has finally released the full list of verified voters for the NBA Elections commencing at 11 pm today.

In its Statement No. 018, the Electoral Committee has barred further campaigns as well as Help Desks except the one set up by the committee. 

Below is the full text of the statement:

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. This figure excludes 1604 names with duplicated phone numbers and/or email addresses.

As the voting commences by 11:00 PM today, 29th July, 2020, we urge all members to conduct themselves in the respectable manner for which the legal profession is known. All Candidates and their supporters are also advised to desist from any form of campaigns forthwith.

The ECNBA reiterates that private helpdesks for the purpose of this election by Candidates, their supporters and NBA Branches are not allowed.

The ECNBA Support helpline for purpose of the election is: 0700 5555 2020. The helpdesk will be open from 10.00PM on the 29th of July 2020.

Voters who desire to observe this election real time from the comfort of their locations can do so using the unique link provided for the voting.

Happy Voting!

Dated this 29th day of July, 2020

TAWO E. TAWO, SAN                    CORDELIA U. EKE

CHAIRMAN, ECNBA                            SECRETARY

Click to the link below for the accredited list

https://nigerianbar.org.ng/sites/default/files/inline-files/ACCREDITED%20LIST.pdf

ECNBA MEETS CANDIDATES, KEEPS MUM ON VOTING PORTAL, OTHERS

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

* BAYO OJO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES, OTHERS SPEAK
* OVER 30,000 VOTERS TO ELECT NEXT NBA PRESIDENT
* ECNBA BLASTS AKPATA FOR ‘OPEN LETTER’ 
* AKPATA REPLIES ECNBA, INSISTS NBA PORTAL IS ‘VULNERABLE’
* ECNBA WARNS CANDIDATES AGAINST ELECTION ‘HELP DESKS’

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) today held a virtual meeting with candidates in the forthcoming NBA Elections and other stakeholders, assuring that the poll will be free, fair and credible.

Tagged “Online interactive session with all Candidates in the NBA National Officers Election 2020, Bar leaders, and Stakeholders,” the meeting was monitored by CITY LAWYER and attended by the three presidential candidates among others, even as some candidates shunned the parley.

In a 12-minute opening speech, ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Tawo SAN went down memory lane, recalling how the electoral committee conducted the compilation of voters list and the verification exercise. He stated that the committee chose the election portal in line with operational recommendations of its Information Technology Consultant, adding that the process will ensure that “all but only legitimate votes count” and that it is a “national election we can be proud of.”

Tawo thanked Bar Leaders and NBA staff for their cooperation, even as he singled out NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro for commendation for giving the committee a free hand to conduct the election.

On the choice of IT Consultant for the election, Tawo stated that at the end of the committee’s screening exercise, “a firm which was adjudged to have the requisite experience and expertise and competent in such matters was engaged to work with ECNBA on this project as our consultants. At the time of the engagement of the consultant, the ECNBA had not taken any decision as to the platform to be used for the election, as mentioned in our statement No. 006.”

Indicting one of the presidential candidates, Mr. Olumide Akpata for what he termed “unauthorized access” to the NBA website, the electoral committee chairman said: “The committee therefore deprecates in strong terms the various attempts by individuals who in an attempt to force the hand of the ECNBA, some of who are members of the profession, to gain unauthorized access to the NBA website and going further to publish a report showing perceived weaknesses of the site to the world. This action is so sad to say, not expected of gentlemen of our noble profession.” He stated that the committee is confident of its IT Consultants and their expert advice on the technical aspects of the election.

In his remarks, former NBA President, Chief Bayo Ojo SAN warned all stakeholders that “we are in this together,” noting that having criticized the government on electoral misfeasance, “now is the time to show how to do it and do it well.” He urged the electoral committee to ensure that the election is “free, fair and credible,” adding that the candidates must exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship, as only one person can win the race.

Following several questions from some candidates, Mr. Alozie Echeonwu was invited by the electoral committee chairman to throw more light on some aspects of the election.

Said Echeonwu: “The chairman did not say that the election will be on the NBA website. The chairman has not disclosed the election protocol. The platform upon which this election will be run is considered a sensitive election item. The protocol will be released to everyone whose name is on the voters’ list and who has properly done his verification. The protocol is a do-it-yourself form of protocol and everybody’s unique credentials will be delivered to him. Each credential is unique to each voter and under no circumstance should these credentials be shared with any other person.

He assured that “the architecture for the election is reliable,” adding that the ECNBA is the “only umpire” for the election and that the consultant “is not conducting the election. We take responsibility for the election.”

He stated that there would be proper voter education directed to eligible voters, emphasizing that the voting platform is “very secure; very secure. You can go to sleep. The architecture is such that you may be given access to monitor the election wherever you are; and after the elections, there will be a post-election audit. A post-election audit will expose everything for anybody who is minded to do further study on it to please go ahead.”

Stating that each voter would be availed proof of his voting, Echeonwu said: “The architecture is automated. Everybody voting can verify; in fact, when you vote, you get a certificate. Each voter will receive a certificate as to the activities he carried on. You can self-audit the process.” He assured that eligible voters will receive their credentials, voter education and details of the protocols “in good time.”

Addressing the thorny issue of voters’ list, Tawo said though the committee had published the “final voters’ list,” the ECNBA had stated that the list “was being cleaned because of the duplications. We expect to publish the clean list after the outstanding verifications, the backlog has been cleared tonight. So, that will be done.”

In his remarks, Akpata noted that he sent in over 12 questions to the electoral committee, adding that “the issue of transparent and credible election lies at the heart of every election, and it must be seen and felt by all participating in the process.”

Responding to the allegation of unauthorized access to the NBA website, Akpata said: “Obviously, that reference was to me. Mr. Chairman, access to the portal is open to all. Maybe that’s the point some of us are making. It is free to all to study. As you know, Mr. Chairman, this is the first meeting we are holding with ECNBA in this entire process – two days to the election. So, we have not had information. The only information we have had is that the portal – in fact, the infographics released (shows) that is where the election will be held. Some of us (are) concerned about that website, that portal and the fact that it appears vulnerable. And we asked experts, please advise.”

He stated that he was aware the website was not developed by the electoral committee, adding that he was “not ascribing blame to anyone. We are saying, ‘Let’s be careful because this portal may be vulnerable.”

Noting that “We are all stakeholders and the cost of silence is too high,” Akpata queried: “Can it (voting portal) withstand multiple concurrences for about 40,000 voters?” He also expressed worry that “there’s little information out there.”

While Echeonwu stated that the NBA website was “for verification,” ECNBA Secretary Cordelia Eke asserted that “I do not believe the ECNBA at any time said election will be conducted on website.” But Akpata insisted that the infographics state otherwise.

Continuing, Echeonwu said: “Let me make it absolutely clear that the protocol for the election has not been released by ECNBA. Someone had alluded that ECNBA released the election protocol. Please consider it an unhealthy and malicious circulation. When ECNBA releases its protocol it will come directly to you and everybody will know.
“We are working with a timeline. We have assured you it is a seamless process. It is a do-it-yourself process. You don’t need to contact any help desk other than the ECNBA Help Desk to help you. You don’t need to set up any Help Desk; you will be crossing the boundaries if you do that. We would consider that crossing the boundary.”

One of the presidential candidates, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN expressed worry that the electoral committee barred campaigns via travels and the electronic media, noting that eligible voters need “information dissemination to make informed decision.”

Responding, a member of the committee, Prof. Augustine Agom stated that the electoral committee’s guidelines were informed by the NBA Constitution. He added: “The election is going to be free; it is going to be fair. It is going to be credible. You can take this to the bank.”

On his part, another presidential candidate, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN commended the committee for “operating under unusual circumstances,” a veiled reference to the coronavirus pandemic. He however sought clarification on when the election protocols would be made available to the candidates as well as the modalities for deploying election agents in the ECNBA Situation Room.

Responding, the ECNBA Chairman promised that “We will communicate (this) to candidates in the shortest possible time.”

Aside from the presidential candidates, others that attended the virtual meeting are Messrs Adebayo Akinlade, Sulayman Adamu, Kazeem Adeyemo and Alex Muoka. Others are Joyce Oduah, Okey Ohagba, Christopher Yakemewerigha, Anne Agi, Uche Nwadialo, Sabastine Anyia, Kunle Edun and Olayinka Sokoya.

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 ELECTIONS: ECNBA TO MEET CANDIDATES TOMORROW

The Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) has made good its promise to meet with candidates in the forthcoming NBA Elections. The electoral committee in a statement scheduled the meeting to hold tomorrow at 5 pm.

The sole agenda for the meeting is “Update on the Elections.”

The full text of the statement is below:

Please TAKE NOTICE that the ECNBA would be holding an online interactive session with all Candidates in the NBA National Officers Election 2020, Bar leaders, and Stakeholders.

Details of the meeting are as follows:

Date: Monday, the 27th day of July 2020.

Time: 5.00 PM

Agenda: Update on the Elections

Dial-in details will be sent by email to participants.

Dated this 26th Day of July 2020.

Cordelia U. Eke (Mrs)

Secretary, ECNBA

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.