Tuesday, 11 August, 2020

NBA ELECTION: OGUNLANA VOWS TO FORGE AHEAD WITH MAIN SUIT

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Former Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana has vowed to go ahead with a lawsuit to determine his eligibility for the forthcoming NBA National Election, saying today’s ruling by a Lagos High Court sitting at Ikeja did not tamper with his right to institute the substantive action.

Though Ogunlana’s telephone numbers were switched off when CITY LAWYER attempted to contact him, his close aide and RAMINBA Secretary, Mr. Ayo Ademiluyi, said there is “serious misconception” regarding the court ruling, adding that “our main claim is very much alive.”

He said that the movement will proceed to conclude the Pre Action protocols within the next seven days before filing the substantive suit “to determine whether Mr. Ogunlana was validly excluded from the race and whether any NBA Chairman can on his own issue a Letter of Good Standing or refuse same as he wills.”

It is recalled that the court had dismissed Ogunlana’s application asking it to set aside his disqualification by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) or restrain the defendants from conducting the NBA Elections without his inclusion in the race. The electoral body had disqualified the former branch chieftain on the ground that his nomination forms did not include a “Letter of Good Standing” from his branch chairman.

But the Nigerian Bar Association asked the court to dismiss the suit. Represented by high-profile lawyer, Dr. Paul Ananaba SAN, the NBA brought a Notice of Preliminary Objection pursuant to Order 43 (Rule 1) of the Civil Procedure Rules 2019 of the High Court of Lagos State and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court. The motion was served on the Lead Counsel for Ogunlana, Mr. Dare Akande at exactly 6:12 pm yesterday. The matter is slated for hearing today before Justice Adedayo Oyebanji.

The Respondents are Incorporated Trustees of Nigeria Bar Association; Mr. Paul Usoro SAN (President of the Nigerian Bar Association); Mr. Jonathan Taidi (General Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association); and Professor (sic) Tawo Tawo SAN, Chairman, Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association. Others are ECNBA Secretary, Cordelia Eke, Esq. and Dele Oloke, Esq (immediate past chairman of Ikeja Branch of Nigerian Bar Association).

Marked as Suit No. ID/4015GCM/2020, Ogunlana is praying for “An interlocutory order of this honourable court directing and compelling the Defendants, to include the name of the Claimant/Applicant in the list of candidates to contest for the Office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association in the 2020 National Officers’ Elections and allowing same to contest pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in this matter.”

In the alternative, the disqualified NBA presidential aspirant is seeking “AN ORDER of injunction restraining the Defendants from conducting elections into the office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, without including the name of the Claimant as a candidate on the 29th and 30th July, 2020 or on any other date pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in the matter.”

Filed on July 9, 2020 Ogunlana revealed in a broadcast on his verified Facebook handle that the matter has been assigned to Justice Adedayo Oyebanji of Ikeja High Court, adding that the court has penciled down the case for hearing “due to its urgent nature.” He reassured his supporters to “keep hope alive,” adding that though the election has been scheduled for 29th and 30th July, 2020, “nothing is sacrosanct.”

Ogunlana listed four grounds to justify his lawsuit, stating that
(i) The 4th and 5th Defendants/respondents’ electoral body, the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) claimed to have disqualified the claimant contesting the election because his Nomination Forms did not include a letter of Good Standing from the 6th defendant, the then Chairman of his branch, the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association as required by the constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association.

(ii) The claimant brought an Appeal based on the objection raised by the 4th and 5th Defendants as stated earlier above in paragraph 1 but his appeal was dismissed based on a completely different issue, and which is applicable to the appeal or case of the claimant.

(iii) The ground of dismissing the Appeal founded in section 8(3)(c) of the NBA Constitution 2015(as amended) vis-a-vis the issue raised and the absence of any evidence to show that the report of the insurance committee if Ikeja Branch of NBA has been set aside “is disjointed from the ground of Appeal itself, which is based on the Appeal against disqualification for absence of letter of Good Standing in the Nomination packet of the Claimant/Applicant.

(iv) The Claimant /Applicant will suffer irreparable loss if this honourable court declines the order sought.”

It is recalled that Ogunlana has had a cat-and-mouse relationship with the electoral body following his initial disqualification from the presidential race. Though he appealed the disqualification, claiming that Oloke lacked the power to withhold his “Letter of Good Standing,” the ECNBA dismissed his appeal as lacking in merit.

FIREWORKS, AS NBA ASKS COURT TO DISMISS OGUNLANA’S SUIT

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• WARNS THAT GRANT OF ORDER WILL ‘CAUSE ANARCHY’
• SAYS COURT LACKS JURISDICTION TO HEAR MATTER
• ‘THIS APPLICATION WILL TRUNCATE NBA ELECTION IF…’
• ‘WE HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG’

The Nigerian Bar Association has asked the Lagos High Court to dismiss the suit brought by controversial former NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana seeking to restore his as a candidate for the forthcoming NBA Elections.

Court papers sighted by CITY LAWYER show that the NBA is being represented by high-profile lawyer, Dr. Paul Ananaba SAN, even as it is in the alternative praying the court to strike out the application.

The Notice of Preliminary Objection is brought pursuant to Order 43 (Rule 1) of the Civil Procedure Rules 2019 of the High Court of Lagos State and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court. The motion was served on the Lead Counsel for Ogunlana, Mr. Dare Akande at exactly 6:12 pm yesterday. The matter is slated for hearing today before Justice Adedayo Oyebanji.

Ogunlana had filed a Motion on Notice dated July 18, 2020 asking the court to set aside his disqualification by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) or restrain the defendants from conducting the NBA Elections without his inclusion in the race. The electoral body had disqualified the former branch chieftain on the ground that his nomination forms did not include a “Letter of Good Standing” from his branch chairman.

The Respondents are Incorporated Trustees of Nigeria Bar Association; Mr. Paul Usoro SAN (President of the Nigerian Bar Association); Mr. Jonathan Taidi (General Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association); and Professor (sic) Tawo Tawo SAN, Chairman, Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association. Others are ECNBA Secretary, Cordelia Eke, Esq. and Dele Oloke, Esq (immediate past chairman of Ikeja Branch of Nigerian Bar Association).

But the NBA is through its Trustees praying the court not to grant the order, warning that it would “cause anarchy and division within the Nigerian Bar Association.” Instead, it is praying for “An order dismissing this action for lack of jurisdiction or in the alternative,” “An order striking out this action for lack of jurisdiction.”

Dated 23rd July, 2020 the grounds for the application are that “the applicant has failed to comply with due process of law,” “The Honourable Court lacks jurisdiction to determine this suit,” “This application is aimed at truncating the Nigerian Bar Association Election slated for the 29th and 30th of July, 2020” and “This application amounts to forum shopping which is an abuse of court process.”

The application is supported by a 4-paragraph affidavit deposed by one Gbenga Ayorinde, a litigation officer in the 1st Respondent’s counsel’s chambers.

The deponent averred inter alia “That the Applicant stated clearly in his Affidavit that he did not submit Letter of good standing as provided by the Nigerian Bar Association Electoral Law and Rules,” adding that “The duties of the 1st Respondent is to ensure Electoral laws and Rules are complied with.

He stated that “the first Respondent has done nothing wrong” and “That the Applicant has not instituted any substantive suit in this matter.” The deponent also stated that aside from the application amounting to forum shopping, “granting this (application) will cause anarchy and division within the Nigerian Bar Association.” According to him, “the court does not have jurisdiction to interfere in internal affairs of Nigerian Bar Association.”

It is recalled that Ogunlana had dragged the NBA and its electoral committee to the High Court of Lagos State sitting at Ikeja, praying for several orders.

Marked as Suit No. ID/4015GCM/2020, Ogunlana is praying for “An interlocutory order of this honourable court directing and compelling the Defendants, to include the name of the Claimant/Applicant in the list of candidates to contest for the Office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association in the 2020 National Officers’ Elections and allowing same to contest pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in this matter.”

In the alternative, the disqualified NBA presidential aspirant is seeking “AN ORDER of injunction restraining the Defendants from conducting elections into the office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, without including the name of the Claimant as a candidate on the 29th and 30th July, 2020 or on any other date pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in the matter.”

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OGUNLANA SUES, ASKS COURT TO STOP NBA ELECTION IF…

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• FATE OF ELECTION HANGS IN BALANCE

• COURT SET TO HEAR SUIT FRIDAY

The fate of the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association National Officers Elections is now hanging in the balance as a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja will on Friday hear a lawsuit brought by controversial former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana against his disqualification from the presidential race.

In court documents seen by CITY LAWYER, Ogunlana is asking the court to set aside his disqualification by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) or restrain the defendants from conducting the NBA Elections without his inclusion in the race. The electoral body had disqualified the former branch chieftain on the ground that his nomination forms did not include a “Letter of Good Standing” from his branch chairman.

The Respondents are Incorporated Trustees of Nigeria Bar Association; Mr. Paul Usoro SAN (President of the Nigerian Bar Association); Mr. Jonathan Taidi (General Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association); and Professor (sic) Tawo Tawo SAN, Chairman, Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association. Others are ECNBA Secretary, Cordelia Eke, Esq. and Dele Oloke, Esq (immediate past chairman of Ikeja Branch of Nigerian Bar Association).

Marked as Suit No. ID/4015GCM/2020, Ogunlana is praying for “An interlocutory order of this honourable court directing and compelling the Defendants, to include the name of the Claimant/Applicant in the list of candidates to contest for the Office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association in the 2020 National Officers’ Elections and allowing same to contest pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in this matter.”

In the alternative, the disqualified NBA presidential aspirant is seeking “AN ORDER of injunction restraining the Defendants from conducting elections into the office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, without including the name of the Claimant as a candidate on the 29th and 30th July, 2020 or on any other date pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in the matter.”

Filed on July 9, 2020 Ogunlana revealed in a broadcast on his verified Facebook handle that the matter has been assigned to Justice Adedayo Oyebanji of Ikeja High Court, adding that the court has penciled down the case for hearing “due to its urgent nature.” He reassured his supporters to “keep hope alive,” adding that though the election has been scheduled for 29th and 30th July, 2020, “nothing is sacrosanct.”

Ogunlana listed four grounds to justify his lawsuit, stating that
(i) The 4th and 5th Defendants/respondents’ electoral body, the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) claimed to have disqualified the claimant contesting the election because his Nomination Forms did not include a letter of Good Standing from the 6th defendant, the then Chairman of his branch, the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association as required by the constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association.

(ii) The claimant brought an Appeal based on the objection raised by the 4th and 5th Defendants as stated earlier above in paragraph 1 but his appeal was dismissed based on a completely different issue, and which is applicable to the appeal or case of the claimant.

(iii) The ground of dismissing the Appeal founded in section 8(3)(c) of the NBA Constitution 2015(as amended) vis-a-vis the issue raised and the absence of any evidence to show that the report of the insurance committee if Ikeja Branch of NBA has been set aside “is disjointed from the ground of Appeal itself, which is based on the Appeal against disqualification for absence of letter of Good Standing in the Nomination packet of the Claimant/Applicant.

(iv) The Claimant /Applicant will suffer irreparable loss if this honourable court declines the order sought.”

It is recalled that Ogunlana has had a cat-and-mouse relationship with the electoral body following his initial disqualification from the presidential race. Though he appealed the disqualification, claiming that Oloke lacked the power to withhold his “Letter of Good Standing,” the ECNBA dismissed his appeal as lacking in merit.

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.

VERIFICATION: ECNBA EXTENDS DEADLINE, CITES MASSIVE LAWYERS’ INTEREST

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has extended the deadline for lawyers verify their profiles for the forthcoming NBA Elections.

In an ECNBA Statement No. 015 titled “Extension of verification exercise” and signed by the committee Secretary, Mrs. Cordelia Eke, the electoral body stated that the verification exercise will now end barely three days to the election on Sunday, July 26, 2020.

Though the electoral committee had initially extended the deadline to yesterday, it stated that the latest extension was informed by “a huge increase in the number of Lawyers seeking to carry out their verification on the NBA Portal.”

According to the ECNBA, “The deadline for verification of Voters is now extended to 6.00PM on Sunday 26th July 2020. Eligible Voters are advised to take advantage of this further extension to get verified. Previously verified voters are required to log in to their portals and update their information, especially their contact details to ensure they have smooth access to the portal and are able to receive important information pertaining to the Voting exercise.”

Though the NBA Constitution (as amended) mandates the ECNBA to publish the voters’ register and deliver same to branches latest 28 days to the election, the register has been beset by several challenges, even as some names were duplicated. This has necessitated a clean-up of the register alongside the verification exercise.

While the committee had earlier set a deadline to end the verification exercise, this became untenable due to several complaints regarding the cumbersome nature of the process.

Below is the full text of the ECNBA statement.

EXTENSION OF VERIFICATION EXERCISE

The ECNBA has observed that in the wake of the publication of its Statement No.14 extending the date of verification of Voters, there has been a huge increase in the number of Lawyers seeking to carry out their verification on the NBA Portal. The ECNBA has therefore decided to give a further extension of the date for verification of Voters.

The deadline for verification of Voters is now extended to 6.00PM on Sunday 26th July 2020. Eligible Voters are advised to take advantage of this further extension to get verified. Previously verified voters are required to log in to their portals and update their information, especially their contact details to ensure they have smooth access to the portal and are able to receive important information pertaining to the Voting exercise.

The NBA Help desks are still available to provide support for the verification exercise for those who require same.

Thank you all for your continued cooperation.

Dated this 20th day of July 2020.

Cordelia U. Eke (Mrs.)
Secretary, ECNBA

 

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AKPATA CARPETS ECNBA, SAYS ELECTIONS WON’T BE FREE, FAIR

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

* SAYS NBA PORTAL IS ‘EXTREMELY POROUS,’ BEING MANIPULATED

* ‘YOUR OPACITY IS A SOURCE OF CONCERN’

* WARNS THAT MANY ELIGIBLE VOTERS MAY BE SHUT OUT

A leading presidential candidate in the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Elections, Mr. Olumide Akpata has raised alarm over what he called “looming disenfranchisement of voters and possible manipulation” of the elections, saying the operations of the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) is bedeviled by “general opacity.” In a three-page letter to the electoral committee, the former NBA Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL) Chairman urged the electoral body to urgently address these concerns to reassure stakeholders.

In the three-page letter titled “Urgent need to avert the looming disenfranchisement of voters and possible manipulation of the forthcoming NBA 2020 elections,” Akpata who is a Founding Partner at TEMPLARS, a tier-1 law firm, commended the electoral committee “for its good intent and efforts towards conducting credible 2020 elections into the national offices of the NBA.”

He however said he was constrained “to register respectfully my reservations concerning the persistent issues affecting the voters’ register and verification process.” He identified three major factors that may imperil the elections, including “seriously flawed final voters’ list,” “frustrating and cumbersome verification process,” and “opacity regarding the technology and modalities for the elections.”

In a damning rebuke of the electoral body, Akpata frowned on what he termed the “general opacity regarding the conduct of the forth-coming elections,” adding that while he is keen to see that the elections are free, fair and transparent, “The realities surrounding the electoral process presently, with respect, do not suggest that this would be the case, as I explain below.”

According to him, the final voters register as published by the ECNBA is fraught with “tell-tale duplicity of names,” adding that “whilst the final voters’ list contains both duplicated and apparently non-existent names, I am informed that it omits a significant number of NBA members who paid their BPF and Branch Dues on time.”

On the verification exercise, Akpata stated that it “appears to have the effect of preventing prospective voters from exercising their franchise,” adding that “In many cases, it takes days for verification emails to be sent whilst some members simply do not get verified no matter how many times they try.”

Akpata stated that it is “more distressing” that the NBA portal on which the verification exercise is to be conducted appears not to be secure and can be easily manipulated.” He said that a report from an IT consultancy firm recruited by him to assess the vulnerability of the NBA portal “shows clearly that the portal is extremely porous,” adding that the portal “has serious vulnerabilities which could be exploited by anyone to manipulate the process in favour of or against particular candidates.”

He noted that lack of information on specific modalities for the elections is “quite disturbing,” adding that “the ECNBA needs to address the point publicly now.” Noting that the 2018 election “raised many valid concerns which must be avoided this time around,” Akpata warned that “Anything short of a fully transparent, free, fair, credible and user-friendly electoral process in the forthcoming elections would thoroughly offend the collective sensibilities of the members of the NBA which the ECNBA was constituted to serve.”

He demanded that the electoral body should publish “a complete and accurate list of eligible voters in the forthcoming elections” as well as release the statement of account from Access Bank Plc evidencing NBA members who met the March 31 deadline for payment of Bar Practising Fee.

Akpata also asked the ECNBA to “simplify and secure” the verification process and disclose the technology to be deployed for the elections, the IT vendor and measures put in place to secure the voting portal.

Suggesting that the electoral committee jettison its insistence on  a Nigeria registered IT company as vendor for the elections, Akpata stated that most professional associations including NBA Lagos Branch had deployed “technology service providers that specialize in electronic voting.” He urged the ECNBA to “adopt this standard” to ensure free and credible elections.

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.

 

 

 

‘THE PLATFORM’ CANCELS NBA PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

SAYS ‘WE WILL KEEP YOU INFORMED ON ANY NEW DEVELOPMENTS’

The Platform Nigeria has formally canceled its planned “interactive session” with Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidates in line with the disapproval of the programme by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA). However, the promotional website for the aborted programme had not been pulled down at press time.

An email to prospective participants which originated from the Convener/Visioner of The Platform Nigeria, Pastor Poju Oyemade, gave no reason for the cancellation. He however assured participants that “We will keep you informed on any new developments.”

Oyemade, the avant-garde Pastor of the mega church, Covenant Christian Centre (CCC), had in an earlier tweet on his verified Twitter handle, invited the public to the now aborted presidential debate, saying: “This Sunday @theplatformnigeria will be holding interactive sessions with the three candidates for the post of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association. #nbadecides2020.” He has not tweeted on the cancellation at press time. The Platform Nigeria is a popular speaking podium which has hosted some of Nigeria’s leading technocrats including the Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN).

The ECNBA had in an email obtained by CITY LAWYER warned the presidential candidates against featuring in the virtual “interactive session,” saying it breached the NBA Constitution and “does not meet with the approval of the ECNBA.”

In response to the ECNBA directive, one of the presidential candidates, Mr. Olu Akpata formally withdrew from the interactive session, citing the email received from the electoral body. In a notice that trended on several social media platforms, he said: “Please note that in compliance with an email notice received from the ECNBA, Olumide Akpata will not be participating in the Platform interactive session billed for the 19th of July 2020 or any other debate or interactive session involving more any other candidate.

“We thank the organisers of the Platform interactive session for the work that they have put into organising the session, and hope that they and members of the public understand with us.”

It was unclear at press time whether the other presidential candidates issued any formal statements withdrawing from the programme, even as CITY LAWYER had reported that one of the candidates may have planned to shun the interactive session.

CITY LAWYER had predicted that the ECNBA would come down heavily on the aborted interactive session when it revealed plans by the electoral body to take decisive steps to stem what it perceived as serial disobedience to its earlier directives on campaigns.

Below is an email cancelling one of the planned sessions, even as similar emails were sent for the other presidential candidates:

Poju Oyemade <no-reply@zoom.us>
9:01 AM (14 hours ago)
to (NAME)

Good morning,

The webinar “Join Deacon Dele Adesina SAN in an interactive session on his vision and plans for the Nigeria Bar Association” on Jul 19, 2020, 03:00 PM has been canceled.

The Platform Nigeria wants to thank you for registering. We will keep you informed on any new developments.

Thank you

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.

EXCLUSIVE: ECNBA BARS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES FROM ‘THE PLATFORM’ DEBATE

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has warned presidential candidates against participating in an “interactive session” scheduled for today by a The Platform Nigeria, saying the programme “does not meet with the approval of the ECNBA.”

In an email obtained by CITY LAWYER, the electoral body cited its earlier statement on the matter as well as provisions of the NBA Constitution (as amended), saying: “For the avoidance of doubt and as previously communicated to the Presidential Candidates, the proposed advertised interactive session for NBA Presidential Candidates organized by The Platform Nigeria, scheduled to hold on Sunday 19th July 2020, does not meet with the approval of the ECNBA.”

A source familiar with the operations of the electoral committee told CITY LAWYER yesterday that the committee had decided to deal decisively with the recurring issue of campaign debates, saying: “The committee will take a step to stop the recurrence of these issues. They are already working on something.”

CITY LAWYER had in its report noted the anxiety among Bar Leaders over the proposed interactive session, even as there were feelers that at least one of the presidential candidates had opted to shun the programme.

Below is the full text of the ECNBA email.

Dear Sir/Madam,

It has come to the attention of the ECNBA that Candidates in the NBA National Elections have been engaged in various forms of electioneering campaigns without regard to the provisions of the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended) and the guidelines set out by the ECNBA.

We would like to draw your attention to the provisions of the NBA Constitution, the ECNBA Election Guidelines and ECNBA Statement No. 014 which clearly prohibit any form of campaign, save for that which is provided for in the Constitution.

For the avoidance of doubt and as previously communicated to the Presidential Candidates, the proposed advertised interactive session for NBA Presidential Candidates organized by The Platform Nigeria, scheduled to hold on Sunday 19th July 2020, does not meet with the approval of the ECNBA.

We count on your usual understanding and cooperation as we strive to carry out a respectable and responsible electoral exercise for our dear profession.

Accept the professional regards of the ECNBA.

Cordelia U. Eke
Secretary

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 DEBATES: ECNBA MAY HAMMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE
There are strong indications that the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) is viewing with serious concern the campaign practices of candidates for the 2020 NBA Elections.

A source who is familiar with the operations of the electoral committee told CITY LAWYER that the electoral umpire is concerned that most of its warnings on campaigning have been observed in breach.

Making reference to a presidential debate billed for tomorrow and organized by The Platform Nigeria, a popular public speaking programme with Pastor Poju Oyemade of Covenant Christian Centre as Convener/Visionary, the source told CITY LAWYER that the committee has decided to deal decisively with the matter, saying: “The committee will take a step to stop the recurrence of these issues. The committee is already working on something.

“The (ECNBA) Statement was very clear. Debates for purposes of Campaign are not allowed. I believe the candidates know the rules, even if organisers feign ignorance.”

Reminded that tomorrow’s event is billed as an “interactive session” and not a debate, the source queried: “But it is Presidential? For candidates in the election!”

Indications have however emerged that at least one presidential candidate may not participate in the debate. A ranking official in the candidate’s campaign organisation told CITY LAWYER that “this is due to the ECNBA Statement on the subject. The statement is clear enough. While I have not spoken to my candidate on his participation, I think the options are clear – get the ECNBA to rescind its statement or stay away.”

It is recalled that The Platform Nigeria has scheduled for tomorrow a virtual programme tagged “Interactive sessions with the Presidential Candidates of the NBA 2020 Elections on their vision and plans for the Nigerian Bar Association.” 

YLF_DEBATE

While the interactive session with Mr. Dele Adesina SAN is scheduled to kick off at 3 pm tomorrow, Mr. Olu Akpata will mount the podium at 5 pm. On his part, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN is billed for the 7 pm slot. Prospective participants are billed to register for the programme.

The electoral committee had in its ECNBA Statement No. 014 warned the candidates against infringing the electoral guidelines, saying: “The Committee frowns at activities that detract from the objectives of an inclusive free, fair, and credible poll for our Association. The Constitution has prescribed the manner of and mode for campaigns for the elections; as such, any electioneering campaign activity outside of this is unacceptable to the Committee. The candidates, their supporters, as well as NBA Branches, are advised to take down all help desks, debate platforms (virtual or physical), and or voting desks set up for the purpose of the elections and which are capable of compromising the integrity of the process. The Committee will not hesitate to sanction any candidate who deliberately flouts the provisions of the Constitution and the ECNBA Guidelines for the elections.” 

Though the NBA Young Lawyers Forum (NBA-YLF) had scheduled a Presidential Debate to hold today, the event was abruptly shelved in deference to the ECNBA’s latest position. CITY LAWYER gathered that efforts to make the electoral committee shift its position have so far proved abortive.

A notice by the NBA-YLF Chairman, Mr. Tobi Adebowale announcing suspension of the presidential debate read: “The motivation behind the debate was and remains our belief that Young Lawyers constitute a large proportion of the prospective voters at the NBA Elections and their concerns have invariably dominated the conversations around the elections. As such, the YLF decided upon hosting a live TV debate with feedback via social media to provide an opportunity for a robust conversation with the candidates for the OPNBA.

“As you are aware, the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (“ECNBA”) recently issued a statement to the effect that ‘candidates, their supporters, as well as NBA Branches, are advised to take down all help desks, debate platforms (virtual or physical), and or voting desks set up for the purpose of the elections and which are capable of compromising the integrity of the process.’
“Further to the above, the YLF has come to a decision to put the Debate earlier scheduled for 6:15pm today, July 18, 2020 on hold. We have communicated the above decision to the NBA Presidential Candidates and our partners, Plus TV Africa. We will continue to engage the ECNBA and other stakeholders for the benefit of Young Lawyers and the Bar at large.”

Meanwhile, some Bar Leaders have berated the presidential candidates for allegedly agreeing to participate in tomorrow’s debate. Uploading the programme’s banner on “State of the Bar,” a WhatsApp group populated by Nigeria’s legal elite, a commentator said: “Ok so i just stumbled on this and I’m like what!!!??? Is this appropriate? What really is happening? We go from Channels to TVC to CNN to ITV to AiT and now Platform? How selfless is service in the NBA really?”

This led another prominent lawyer to state: “I am worried too. Can’t the NBA organise a debate for our candidates? Why should it be 3rd parties doing that? It is becoming to look like this is a governorship election rather than an NBA election.”

The NBA Election is scheduled to hold on July 29 and 30, 2020.

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.

ECNBA SET TO ROLL OUT VOTING GUIDELINES, MEET CANDIDATES

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• BARS ELECTION DEBATE PLATFORMS
• EXTENDS VERIFICATION DEADLINE
• MAY VARY VOTING FRAMEWORK
• WARNS CANDIDATES AGAINST FLOUTING CAMPAIGN RULES

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) will soon issue guidelines for voting in the forthcoming NBA National Officers Elections.

In a statement today titled “On the march” and made available to CITY LAWYER, the ECNBA also allayed concerns that it is not carrying along some key stakeholders in the electoral process, saying it would soon meet candidates in the elections.

Apart from extending the deadline for the troubled verification exercise, the electoral committee also warned candidates to “take down all help desks, debate platforms (virtual or physical), and or voting desks set up for the purpose of the elections and which are capable of compromising the integrity of the process,” adding that “The Committee will not hesitate to sanction any candidate who deliberately flouts the provisions of the Constitution and the ECNBA Guidelines for the elections.”

In an indication that it may depart from the previous voting framework adopted in two previous elections, the electoral committee said in the statement signed by the electoral committee Chairman, Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN that the voting guidelines “shall amongst other things provide for a place, time and platform to be utilized for electronic voting for the elections to enable our members to vote without difficulty.”

Paragraph 2.4(c) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution (as amended) provides that “The ECNBA shall issue guidelines for conduct of electronic voting, which shall amongst other things provide for verification of voters, place, time and platform to be utilised for electronic voting for each particular election year taking into consideration the state of available technology and Information Technology infrastructure of the branches in order to afford all registered voters the opportunity to vote.”

The committee also warned candidates against breaching the electoral guidelines, saying: “The candidates, their supporters, as well as NBA Branches, are advised to take down all help desks, debate platforms (virtual or physical), and or voting desks set up for the purpose of the elections and which are capable of compromising the integrity of the process. The Committee will not hesitate to sanction any candidate who deliberately flouts the provisions of the Constitution and the ECNBA Guidelines for the elections.”

Below if the full text of the statement.

ON THE MARCH

1.0 Preamble

As we gradually approach the NBA National Officers elections slated for July 29, 2020, we deem it imperative that we keep our esteemed members informed and clarified on salient issues that may impact on the electoral process.

2.0 Qualification of Aspirants & Publication of Lists of Voters

Following the call for nominations and expression of interests, the ECNBA determined the qualifications of the Candidates and circulated a full list of properly nominated candidates for the 2020 National Officers elections after exhausting all constitutional processes.

3.0 Verification.

The ongoing verification exercise is a very important stage in the election process primarily to ensure smooth access to one’s portal on the NBA website and verify or update one’s details and password (where necessary) before the 2020 elections. While verification has been an ongoing exercise for all members of the Association, it is more critical for eligible voters to ensure a hitch-free log-in for the elections. All voters who have successfully completed the process will be notified of same before the elections. Furthermore, the exercise shall also take care of the observations made on the published eligible voter’s list. We commend all who have duly verified in readiness for the elections and those yet to do so are advised to proceed without delay. Members are also advised to utilize the NBA help desks for the purpose of verification support and refrain from disclosing their log in details and passwords to others in order to avoid the danger of proxy voting.

In response to the commendable upsurge in verification of members, the ECNBA has decided to extend the deadline for verification of Voters to Monday 20th July 2020. The number of verification support lines will also be increased.

4.0 Going Forward.

The Committee frowns at activities that detract from the objectives of an inclusive free, fair, and credible poll for our Association. The Constitution has prescribed the manner of and mode for campaigns for the elections; as such, any electioneering campaign activity outside of this is unacceptable to the Committee. The candidates, their supporters, as well as NBA Branches, are advised to take down all help desks, debate platforms (virtual or physical), and or voting desks set up for the purpose of the elections and which are capable of compromising the integrity of the process. The Committee will not hesitate to sanction any candidate who deliberately flouts the provisions of the Constitution and the ECNBA Guidelines for the elections.

In the coming days, the Committee will put forward the Guidelines for electronic voting which shall amongst other things provide for a place, time and platform to be utilized for electronic voting for the elections to enable our members to vote without difficulty. Further education in the process will also be made available to Voters.

The ECNBA in the coming days will also interact with stakeholders within the limits of the Presidential Task Force Covid-19 Protocols and with due regard for the safety of our members and the need to obey the laws of the land. Participants to the interactive sessions will be communicated in due course.

5.0 Conclusion

The Committee remains committed to inclusive free fair and credible elections and solicits the cooperation of our highly respected members in our march to 29th July, 2020.

Dated this 14th day of July 2020.
Tawo E. Tawo, SAN
Chairman, 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.

ELECTORAL C’TE SETTLES FOR NBA WEBSITE AS VOTING PORTAL

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) may have resolved to deploy the NBA website as the voting portal for the forthcoming National Officers Elections.

An indication to this effect was given today by the NBA Assistant Publicity Secretary, Mr. Akorede Habeeb Lawal while responding to concerns raised by lawyers on a CITY LAWYER whatsapp platform.

This may have laid to rest speculations on whether the newly built NBA Election Portal will be deployed by the Electoral Committee for the elections.

While one Osa Akpata had expressed worry over the challenges being encountered by lawyers in the verification exercise, Lawal said that the verification process was not commenced with the elections in mind. His words: “Although the ECNBA has chosen to conduct the election on the NBA membership portal, the verification exercise was not commenced primarily because of election. And we will not compromise its essence on the altar of politics. Verification takes some time and that time is used to ensure from the backend that the applicant for verification is indeed the owner of the bar certificate he/she uploads. It is far beyond the election – greater than politics.”

Debunking the charge that the verification process is “flawed,” the NBA publicist said: “No one who had been verified would state that the process was flawed. A lot of members got verified and paid their BPF during the lockdown in March. And there was no complaint about the process.

“We also have to acknowledge that not all of us are versatile with the use of technology and as such, while others have a seamless verification exercise, some have troubles with it. It is for this reason that we’ve set up a help desk in this respect. Members with issues may and indeed have been reaching out to me and other national officers. I can be reached through this WhatsApp line.

“While not holding the brief of the ECNBA, the Chairman of the Committee has stated number without times that no eligible voter will be disenfranchised. If you cannot trust them, then, at least you give them the benefit of doubt.”
On the controversy surrounding some strange names found on the final voters register, Lawal said: “We have no non-living things/duplicated names on the verified list. With respect, you are confusing the voters list with a verified list. In fact, there is no such thing as a verified list.”

Akpata had raised concerns on duplicated names on the voters’ register, adding that this may adversely impact the outcome of the election. She said: “The process is fraught with flaws; we have non-living objects on the verified list, we have names duplicated, we are days to the election and we have tons of lawyers who have not been verified due to the onerous and flawed online process.

“I’ve been trying to assist a colleague to verify for over a week with no success, how you can disenfranchise Lawyers who have paid their Practising fees and Branch Dues as required by the NBA out of no failure on their part simply because of the very flawed process. If we do not trust the process, how do we trust the outcome?”

Another lawyer, Favour Hart however agreed with Lawal, saying: “May I humbly align myself with your position. The process for verification on the NBA Portal might take a while but it doesn’t mean you’d not get any response from them. All those I’ve helped with verification have been successful! Agreed, the back and forth might be frustrating but that doesn’t meant (sic) it’s fraught with flaws. We need to leave politics aside when making some comments.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Tawo SAN had in a statement noted that the NBA had developed an Election Portal, adding however that its deployment would depend on the advice of an information technology expert. His words: “There is no gainsaying that the success of the elections would depend to a large extent on the electronic or IT platform that would be deployed for the election. The need to procure such a platform has been a priority. The Committee was briefed that the NBA has its own e-voting platform/portal for elections developed by TAVIA, an IT firm. TAVIA was invited to brief the Committee in conjunction with the NBA IT Officer Umar Gezawa, on the said NBA election platform/portal.

“Further to the said briefing, the ECNBA decided that in spite of the advantages of such a portal, exploring the use of other viable e-voting platforms if necessary is not foreclosed. As such there was the need to engage an independent IT Consultant that would examine the NBA portal and critique same, its integrity, functionality and suitability or otherwise for the purpose of the elections as well as advise on other options. The Consultant would also be required to identify avenues for possible threats, and advise on how to contain same. Other issues to be addressed include the training of staff and all those associated with handling any part of the e-voting process by the consultant. They would be expected to verify electronically, the votes cast at the end of the exercise. Notwithstanding the above, the platform or portal to deploy for the election by the ECNBA would largely be dependent on the advice and report of the IT Consultant.”

Clarifying some controversy surrounding the NBA Election Portal, Tawo told a national newspaper that the portal was not designed to rig the forthcoming election. His said: “I did not say the e-voting platform/portal was developed specifically for the 2020 elections, and neither did I say anything that should warrant an inference that the NBA developed platform was created for the purpose of rigging the elections, far from it. It may be of interest to point out that, the IT firm, TAVIA, that developed the NBA election portal/platform, is not conducting the e-voting election for the NBA; rather another IT consultant will do that. I went further in that statement to state that, in spite of the obvious advantages of the NBA portal, namely reduction in cost and security of members data vis- a-vis deployment of another election platform or portal, there was the need to engage an independent IT Consultant to analyse, assess and critique the portal as to its integrity, functionality and suitability for the elections, or otherwise advice on other options.”

Arguing that there is wisdom in having a permanent NBA Election Portal, the Electoral Committee chairman said: “Having said that, what is wrong for an organisation that conducts a crucial election biannually to develop an election portal for use for its elections, rather than every two years an IT firm is commissioned or contracted to develop an election portal for the election, and discard same afterwards?”

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.