Tuesday, 11 August, 2020

ECNBA PUBLISHES CANDIDATES’ MANIFESTOS ON NBA WEBSITE

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has published the manifestos of candidates for the forthcoming NBA Elections on the association’s website, exactly 21 days prescribed by the NBA Constitution (as amended). The manifestos are hosted here.

Paragraph 2.3(h) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution provides that “The Electoral Committee shall collate all materials, arrange them in alphabetical order without regard for the position being sought and publish them in an electronic Election Magazine to be hosted on the NBA website at least twenty-one (21) days before the election.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that the electoral committee had in its ECNBA STATEMENT NO. 013 directed the candidates “to submit an A4 size copy of his/her curriculum vitae (of not more than 4 pages), a comprehensive manifesto and other campaign materials (all in electronic form) on or before 6:00PM on Monday 6th July 2020, for upload on the NBA website.” It added: “For the avoidance of doubt, campaigns can only be carried out by publication of campaign materials supplied to the ECNBA to be hoisted on the NBA website. Travelling across the country to solicit for votes is prohibited.”

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‘POSTPONE NBA ELECTIONS NOW,’ BAR LEADERS, SBL, EX-YLF CHAIR TELL ECNBA

  • SAY NBA ICT TEAM IS MANIPULATING VERIFICATION PROCESS

  • ASK ELECTORAL C’TE TO WAIVE VERIFICATION, BRANCH DUES

  • WORRY ABOUT NON-DISCLOSURE OF VOTING FRAMEWORK

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

A major twist has emerged in the run-up to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Officers Elections as some Bar leaders and the NBA Section on Business Law have asked the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) to postpone the elections in order to secure its credibility.

In a letter to the ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Tawo SAN dated 6th July, 2020 and obtained by CITY LAWYER, the Bar Leaders listed several challenges besetting preparations for the elections, warning that unless these issues are tackled, the NBA may witness another controversial election as was the case in 2016 and 2018.
Titled “Urgent concerns regarding the upcoming 2020 NBA Elections,” the letter was personally signed by frontline Bar Leader, Mr. Ade Okeaya-Inneh, SAN; Mr. Ayuli Jemide, Vice-Chairman, NBA Section on Business Law; Professor Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Co-Convener, Open Bar Initiative, and Ms. Barbara Omosun, Chairman, NBA Young Lawyers Forum (2014-2016).

Noting that the ECNBA has “a sacred duty which may have been marred by faulty starts,” the Bar leaders said: “We think with all sense of responsibility and to the extent that the NBA constitution allows, the ECNBA may consider requesting the NBA for a short postponement of elections to enable it to discharge its duties creditably.”

They urged the electoral committee to “take these issues raised very seriously to avoid a dent on the image of the ECNBA, the NBA, and all Nigerian lawyers,” adding: “We are rested in the fact that you understand that if the NBA which is a known bastion of governance fails to conduct credible elections, it will be a travesty of untold proportions unfolding under your watch.”

ECNBA_LETTER

The petitioners hinged their quest for a postponement on several factors, listing the issues under headings such as ‘Missing Names on Voters List,’ ‘Voters List Verification,’ ‘Voter Eligibility,’ ‘Verification and Transparent Process for Voting.’

Noting that “It is with all sense of responsibility as lawyers and members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that we have decided to formally record our concerns about the upcoming NBA elections,” the Bar Leaders chronicled the background to their request for a postponement, adding that “The NBA elections in 2018 was fraught with electoral glitches that raised questions for many members of the profession and interested Nigerians as to its credibility, rightly or wrongly.”

Stating that the ECNBA “must consider it a sacred duty to ensure that the 2020 elections redeem the dent on the NBA’s image arising from the questions raised about the conduct of the 2018 elections,” the Bar Leaders said that the call is for the ECNBA to “ensure that the playing field is level and the NBA can on the back of the 2020 elections regain its pride of place as a credible voice for governance and rule of law in Nigeria.”

They warned that disenfranchisement of any voter “due to technical glitches or administrative errors on the part of ECNBA cannot be excused. A technical disenfranchisement is still a disenfranchisement,” noting that “Thousands of members have complained that despite having paid their Bar Practising Fees and Branch Dues and armed with receipts, their names are still not on the voters list.”

According to them, the ECNBA “must create a fast track process that addresses these voters as a matter of urgency,” adding that “If these names are on the list of paid members provided by any of the banks, they should be allowed to vote. Some other lawyers have complained that their names had appeared on the list and disappeared at a later date. If these persons have their receipts of payment of Bar Practising Fees, they should not be disenfranchised.”

Turning to the thorny issue of verification, the Bar Leaders observed that “a list of credible voters needs to be obtained with greater simplicity and that every candidate should exercise their rights to review the voters list and its source well ahead of elections. The most credible way to achieve this in our view is to simply procure a bank certified print out of the names of NBA members who have paid their Bar Practising Fees which the candidates may then verify and compare with voters list already circulated by ECNBA.”

In a damning indictment of the verification process, the Bar Leaders said: “The unfortunate news going around on social media about names like ‘Opening Balance’’ being on the Voters List can only be refuted by a transparent process verified by all the candidates as we now suggest.”

On voter eligibility, the petitioners said: “To avoid disenfranchising many eligible voters and to create further simplicity, we suggest to ECNBA that for the 2020 elections the ECBNA should waive the pre-condition that voters must have paid their NBA branch dues. Our reasons are that that it is public knowledge that COVID19 occasioned lifestyle changes in the month of March in many cities (Lagos was most affected) that deterred many NBA members from paying their branch dues before 31st March 2020. Your Committee may wish to note that the first confirmed case of COVID19 in Nigeria was reported on 27th February 2020, and Punch Newspapers of 9th March 2020 reported that Nigeria had its second case of COVID19 and by 24th of March Nigeria had 44 cases, and the lockdown in Lagos and FCT commenced March 29 – which means the 30th and 31st being working days fell into the lock down period. As the ECNBA would know, the payment of branch dues for most branches entails members commuting to branch offices to present tellers to officers and it is characteristic with members to pay within the month of March particularly the last 2 days of the 30th and 31st of March.”

The Bar Leaders noted that the process for online accreditation “is semi manual, cumbersome, and akin to a technical disenfranchisement of thousands of voters. For example, we do not see why a member who has a Supreme Court Number (SCN) should also be required to upload a Call to Bar Certificate.”

Worried that the verification process is allegedly being programmed to rig the polls, the Bar Leaders said: “More so, it takes an average of three days for one to get the email of temporary log-in password instead of an automated process. This has raised suspicions, and rightly so, that persons behind the scenes use these three days to vet and calculatedly refuse certain voters from certain branches accreditation for the benefit of certain candidates.”

They urged the electoral committee to take a “brave decision in the interest of inclusiveness to drop the verification part of the eligibility process. In our view, anybody who has paid his or her Bar Practising Fees is an eligible voter and should not be put through rigours that are reminiscent of the nightmares millions of Nigerians went through to obtain PVC’s during the 2019 general elections. Technology is so advanced that simple algorithms can void a person whose name is not on the bank certified list who happens to gain unlawful access to the voting platform.”

Speaking on what they termed “Transparent Process for Voting,” the Bar Leaders described as “fearsome” the fact that barely three weeks to the elections “the voters and candidates do not know how the election technology works,” saying: “The ECNBA should know that any credible elections include a public briefing of candidates and the electorate on the process for voting. Questions that are being asked by members include: Is there an automatic process for collation of votes? Is that process transparent? What are the transparency features in the server? Which systems are in place to ensure that this server cannot be hacked? Any election that is not transparent is subject to manipulations and consequently subject to slanders which cannot be rebutted. This is the reason why votes are counted in public at polling booths during the Nigerian general elections. All voters are involved in the counting and go home knowing the results.”

The NBA Elections are scheduled to hold on July 29 and 30, 2020 via electronic voting.

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 IS CONTROLLING YOU TO RIG ELECTION,’ ONU WARNS ECNBA

  • SAYS VERIFICATION MODEL WILL FOSTER FAKE VOTERS

  • ‘SAFEGUARD YOUR GOOD NAME,’ ONU TELLS TAWO TAWO

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The Co-Convener of Open Bar Initiative, Mr. Silas Onu has petitioned the Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) over the exclusion of his name and that of his colleague from the voters’ register for the forthcoming NBA Elections, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

In a letter dated 6th July, 2020 and titled “Conplaint (sic) against a foreseeable calculated attempt to disenfranchise me and other junior lawyers in the forthcoming national election of the Nigerian Bar Association,” Onu noted that while he has always discharged his financial responsibility to the NBA and is entitled to all benefits deriving from his membership of the association, “I have to make the point here that there is no benefit whatsoever that I have ever enjoyed as a faithful member of this Bar.”

Noting that “the only privilege that I have received by virtue of my membership is the right to vote and be voted for as enshrined in our constitution,” Onu stated that “this right itself has been stolen from me in the past and another concerted effort is underway to steal it from me again.”

Onu alleged that he was disenfranchised in 2018 by the Prof. Auwalu Yadudu-led electoral committee “in the total control of A. B. Mahmoud SAN,” adding that this was “due to my support for a candidate other than their endorsed candidate, even with evidence of all qualifying payments.”

Alleging that the current NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN “is the main beneficiary of that illegality,” Onu stated that “I fear that he (Usoro) is also controlling your committee to deliver the same outcome as the one that brought him in.”

Warning that he “will have a reason to seek redress and demand damages” if the right to vote is “taken away from me for the second time in a row,” the Abuja based lawyer also said that such “will determine my further need to pay anything to the Bar as the conduct of those running its affairs is gradually becoming a brazen acts (sic) of fraud with no fear for any consequence.”

Onu, who showered encomiums on the ECNBA Chairman, however warned him to steer clear of acts that may impugn his integrity, saying: “Mr. Chairman Sir, I have known you for many years. You have remained one of the few Senior Advocates who I deeply appreciate and respect because of how you have carried yourself with dignity of your station in life and respect for those who are behind you. You have earned yourself a good name by hard work and persevering in integrity. The task that you are currently chairing is one that can broaden your horizon in the path that you have been or completely deplete the good name that you have done for many years. The latter is easily achievable if you do not insist on managing the entire process that will lead up to the election. If you allow the certain regular partisan individuals occupying offices in the Secretariat to manage the process, then we will end up with a disputed election that can bring the NBA to its knee.”

Onu noted that there is a need to ensure that the electoral process “is more credible than the past and as transparent as the voting itself,” adding that the compilation of the voters register was a “shameful exercise” as it reflected a list “a list put together from names sent from various Branches of the Association.”

He alleged that the register is “replete with duplicate names or bogus names,” querying : “Can you sincerely say that a credible election is about to be conducted when thousands of qualified voters are unable to verify for the election?” He stated that many names on the voters register were without email addresses, adding that those assigned to administer the Help Desk “have become professional liars promising so much and delivering nothing to members with verification challenges.”

Providing their personal details, Onu said: “With the information given herein, there is no reason why we should not be able to do our verification before the last day scheduled for it, except if the bid to deny us this right is actually deeper than we thought.”

Onu warned that “lawyers verification should not have anything to do with this election,” and observed that opening the NBA portal for verification by all comers may be a recipe for a flawed election. His words: “This needs to be addressed urgently as allowing it as it is will open a window to all verified lawyers to gain access into the election portal even without having paid BPF for the year.”

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.

 

GENERAL SECRETARY: ODUAH GETS ECNBA’S NOD TO RUN

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Treasurer, Joyce Oduah has his chances of clinching the post of General Secretary boosted at the weekend with the green light given to her by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA). The electoral committee listed the erstwhile NBA Lagos Branch Publicity Secretary as one of the candidates to compete for the influential General Secretary position.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, Oduah expressed delight at her clearance by the electoral committee, adding that “this is another milestone in our mission to transform the NBA National Secretariat and make it more responsive, robust and forward-looking.”

The full text of the statement reads:

My distinguished colleagues and teeming supporters, it is with great delight that I announce to you that the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has granted me final clearance to contest for the Office of the General Secretary of the NBA in the 2020 NBA National Elections, scheduled to hold from the 29th – 30th of July, 2020. This is contained in the ECNBA Statement 013, which was released and published on the NBA website in the early hours of today, Saturday, 4th July 2020. I thank God Almighty for making this possible and I thank you too, my teeming supporters, for your unwavering support and sacrifices. Indeed, this is another milestone in our mission to transform the NBA National Secretariat and make it more responsive, robust and forward-looking.

While I appreciate your continued support, I also enjoin you to verify and update your details on the NBA website on or before 15th July 2020, to enable you access the voting portal during the elections. The NBA website has a membership portal for all lawyers who are enrolled at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, similar to the portal on the International Bar Association (IBA) website. Verification is completely free and seamless.

To get verified, please visit the NBA Membership Portal on the NBA website or click this link https://nigerianbar.org.ng/membership-portal

Thank you and do have a great weekend.

Joyce Oduah, FICMC
National Treasurer, NBA, 2012-2014.
#BeyondRecordingMinutes

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.

‘HOW ECNBA CAN AVOID RIGGING OF 2020 ELECTIONS,’ BY ODINKALU

Human rights advocate and former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu has predicted that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Officers Elections scheduled to open on July 29 will be rigged. In an article titled “The 2020 Elections of the Nigerian Bar Association Will Be Rigged: Here is How,” Odinkalu outlines perceived gaps in the ongoing electoral process, expressing fears that the NBA leadership may lack the political will to conduct free, fair and credible elections.

THE 2020 ELECTIONS OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION WILL BE RIGGED: HERE IS HOW

By Chidi Anselm Odinkalu

In his infamous letter issued last month to the 1998 transitional President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NA), Chief T.J.O. Okpoko, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), senior Nigerian lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, himself also a SAN, appealed that “it will be a great failure of leadership for the senior advocate to surrender leadership to outer Bar when there are willing and able senior advocates.” In an election in which two of the three aspirants for the top prize of president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) are SANs, this was as close as anyone could come to openly advocating rigging the election à la carte, without calling the crime by its name. Barring last minute course correction by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA), Chief Awomolo is likely to get his wish: these 2020 NBA elections, like the two before it in 2016 and 2018, have been set up to be rigged to order.

While Chief Awomolo may have provided the motive or rationale for rigging the NBA election, the mechanics of procuring the rigging are in the hands of the ECNBA. By way of context, it is useful to explain that the NBA elections are digital. In their 2018 book, How to Rig an Election, Nic Cheeseman and Brian Klaas point out that “once upon a time, to do the dirty of changing votes, you had to be present in the actual polling location. That is no longer true.” In an earlier piece of work on “Making Democracy Harder to Hack” published in the Michigan Journal of Law Reform in 2017, Scott Shackleford and his collaborators examined essential vulnerabilities that make rigging possible in digital democracy, focusing in particular on three aspects: who can vote (voter rolls); who you vote for (voting platforms) and vote computation. (how many votes each candidate receives). As will be shown shortly, all three vulnerabilities are deliberately built into the NBA’s electoral processes.

Essentially, there are four vulnerabilities that have been designed to guarantee rigging of the vote in the 2020 NBA election. These are voter rolls (register), portal integrity (or lack of it), voter verification opacity and prohibitive transaction cost, and lack of independence in the ECNBA. I will explain each of these briefly.

Voter Register: Voters in NBA ballot have to meet three conditions. First, they must be enrolled as lawyers in Nigeria. This is easily confirmed from the Roll of lawyers kept with the Supreme Court. Every lawyer on the Roll has an enrolment number, with which their enrolment can be verified. Second, the person must have paid their annual practicing fees by 31 March. The collecting bank for this is Access Bank. It should be easy to verify those who paid from the records or tellers of the bank. In reality, the only people who have access to this record are the President of the NBA and those whom he wishes to. Third, the voter must also have paid his or her branch dues by 31 March. The NBA comprises 125 branches. Each branch manages its own processes for collecting dues. These are not standardized. The list of eligible payees is at the say so of the different branch chairmen.

Without access to the records of the bank or of the branches, the register of voters lacks integrity and it shows. When the ECNBA issued the provisional register at the end of May 2020, it contained 21,067 names. By the time it issued what it called a final list one month later in June, it had ballooned by 186.65% to 39,321. A close reading of the list shows it contains multiple repetitions, omissions and even figments. People who did not pay the practicing fees are there while many who paid are not. Many branch chairmen have no records of people whom they have put forward as having paid branch dues. There are credibly attested reports of chairmen printing receipts of payment and backdating fictional payments. One particular voter on the list goes by the incredible name of “Opening Balance”. The joke is that this voter has a twin, who is also a lawyer called “Closing”. Their Dad, Mr. Balance, must be proud!

Portal Integrity: In 2018, the voting portal for the NBA election was from a compromised provider. In 2020 it is not clear who the provider is. The portal appears to be managed by the NBA itself. It is not clear who has built it. There is neither transparency to its provenance nor verifiability or falsifiability to its operations and computations. As such, its integrity can neither be investigated nor guaranteed. It should be easy to engage external monitors for this purpose or engage the leading campaigns to designate back-end agents to monitor and verify the integrity of the operations. Neither the leadership of the NBA nor the ECNBA constituted by it is willing to grant either.

Verification Opacity and Prohibitive Transaction Cost: By meeting the three conditions for getting on the voter register, a potential voter does not earn the right to vote as such. S/he only qualifies for the privilege of verification. To do this, the voter is required to go to the portal and key in their details, including uploading their qualifying certificate and providing an e-mail address to which a password can be sent to them. The uploading can take up to three to four days. Many voters find this frustrating and opt out. Passwords are generated by the portal and changed by it at will without the agency of the voter. The voting register does not contain the e-mail address of the voter, so it is impossible to verify in any forensic process whether an e-mail corresponds to any particular voter. On their part, the ECNBA and the NBA can put forward data-protection concerns for circumspection with publishing of the e-mail addresses. In response, surely, that cannot be cited to justify creating deliberate balloting vulnerability. This opacity guarantees inflation of actual voting. In 2018, this was precisely the vulnerability that allowed for clusters of voting to happen using fake Firemail addresses generated from one source. That is almost guaranteed to occur in 2020. The prohibitive transaction cost is engineered for targeted disenfranchisement of voting clusters or conurbations seen as favourably disposed to unfavoured candidates.

Lack of Independence in ECNBA: Appointed to supervise the NBA election, the ECNBA lacks independent appropriations and operations. It has to function through the NBA Secretariat under the direction of the NBA President. Despite the existence of an ECNBA, aspirants and candidates continue(d) to receive letters from the NBA Secretariat and the NBA continues to be involved in directing essential aspects of the election value chain. The absence of institutional and process independence could itself become a dent on the personal integrity of members of the ECNBA.

It happened in 2016 and 2018. The litigation commenced in 2016 against the outcome of the rigged election to the position of the NBA presidency was only concluded at the end of the tenure of the beneficiary in 2018. After the 2018 election, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the State Security Service (SSS) instituted investigations into the rigging of the ballot for the NBA presidency. Several staff of the NBA Secretariat were arrested. In one case, a young mother who works as staff of the NBA was arrested and detained for nearly two weeks.

The ECNBA has an opportunity even now 2020 to avoid these. It can easily infuse greater transparency into its operations. It can invite independent monitors to certify the integrity of its operations. All the accredited campaigns should be entitled to records that should enable them to certify the integrity of the process. These are not expensive steps. The only reason none will happen is because the NBA elections will be rigged. I will be happy to be proved wrong and to eat humble pie.

This, then, is the architecture of rigging that almost assuredly guarantees that Chief Awomolo and his gang of insecure, entitled antediluvians will get his wish. As I have said elsewhere, any system in which a minority feels entitled to rule over the majority has only one name: Apartheid. It should be resisted.

Odinkalu is Co-Convenor of the Open Bar Initiative and writes in his personal capacity.

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: ELECTORAL C’TE CLEARS ADESINA, AJIBADE, AKPATA, BARS 15 OTHERS

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• WITHDRAWS CLEARANCE TO GENERAL SECRETARY ASPIRANT
• DISQUALIFIES 2 INCUMBENT NATIONAL OFFICERS
• SETS JULY 15 DEADLINE FOR VERIFICATION
• VOWS TO DISQUALIFY CANDIDATES WHO FLOUT CAMPAIGN RULES
• SETS MONDAY DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF MANIFESTOS
• ASKS CANDIDATES TO DISMANTLE PARALLEL HELP DESKS

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has released the list of candidates to contest the forthcoming NBA National Officers Elections.

While 28 candidates – including three presidential candidates – made the final list, 15 aspirants could not pass through the crucible of the screening process, including two incumbent national officers.

While 19 aspirants were initially disqualified by the electoral committee, 18 filed appeals while one opted not to file any appeal. The ECNBA withdrew the initial provisional clearance granted an aspirant for the post of General Secretary, Barth Okoye-Aniche following a petition, while five aspirants succeeded with their appeals.

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report noted concerns among some disqualified aspirants over the delay in the screening process and the promise by the electoral committee to fast-track the appeals process.

In its ECNBA Statement No. 13 titled “Full List of properly nominated candidates for the NBA National Elections 2020 and verification of members,” the electoral committee stated that “Having concluded the Appeals process, the ECNBA now presents a list of 28 candidates cleared to contest various offices in the NBA National Officers Elections 2020.” The statement was dated July 3, 2020 and jointly signed by Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN and Mrs. Cordelia Eke, ECNBA Chairman and Secretary respectively.

CANDIDATES LIST

It urged the candidates to “submit an A4 size copy of his/her curriculum vitae (of not more than 4 pages), a comprehensive manifesto and other campaign materials (all in electronic form) on or before 6:00PM on Monday 6th July 2020, for upload on the NBA website.”

The committee emphasized that “campaigns can only be carried out by publication of campaign materials supplied to the ECNBA to be hoisted on the NBA website,” warning specifically that “Travelling across the country to solicit for votes is prohibited.” The committee warned candidates to abide by the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended) and the ECNBA Guidelines in their electioneering campaigns, vowing that “Any violation of these will be severely sanctioned including disqualification from contesting the elections.”

On the controversial final voters register, the committee emphasized “the need for members to verify and update their details on the NBA website on or before the 15th day of July, 2020. This is to ensure that everyone can access the voting portal during the elections as only those who are verified can vote.”

Leading human rights activist and former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu had poked holes in the voters register, saying: “After 2 #RiggedElections, @NigBarAssoc seems well on its way to a 3rd. The voters list produced by#ECNBA appears riddled wth some impressive non-persons. Voter No. 5500 is a person called “Opening Balance”?! There’s a way to stop this: verify the names with reference to receipts.”

Turning to the issue of parallel help desks set up by some candidates, the electoral committee frowned on the practice, describing it as “unacceptable.” “We advise that such efforts be dismantled immediately not to interfere with the mandate of the Committee, confuse our members or be interpreted as attempts to harvest members’ details for use at the elections,” it said. It urged eligible voters to rely instead on the Help Desk set up by the NBA to assist members having challenges with the verification process.

Among those cleared to run for the elections are Mr. Dele Adesina SAN, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN and Mr. Olumide Akpata who will battle for the coveted NBA Presidency slot. The position of First Vice President remains the most crowded field, with six candidates cleared for the race. They include John Aikpokpo-Martins, Oluwaseun Ajoba, Adebayo Akinlade, Adedotun Adetunji, Ganiat Siyonbola and Dawud Sulayman. Siyonbola was not in the list of aspirants provisionally cleared for the election.

While the race for Second Vice President is a straight fight between Adesola Abimbola and Kazeem Adeyemo, both aspirants for the position of Third Vice President – Promise Wobo Iwezor and Gerald Abonyi – failed to scale the screening hurdle.

With Barth Okoye-Aniche haven fallen by the way-side, the race for the influential post of General Secretary is now between Alex Muoka, Joyce Oduah, Okey Ohagba and Christopher Yakemewerigha. The battle for the post of Assistant Secretary remains unchanged, with three combatants – Anne Agi, Uche Nwadialo and Aigbokhai Osagie – cleared for the race.

Returnee candidate Mercy Ijato Agada and Raphael Anagor have clinched the positions of Treasurer and Financial Secretary respectively without a fight. While Caroline Ibharuneafe who sought the post of Treasurer fell under the disqualification hammer, Anagor seemed the solitary applicant for the post of Financial Secretary.

With incumbent Second Assistant Secretary Chinyere Obasi and Osahon Irehovbude having been disqualified by the electoral committee, the race for the post of Welfare Secretary promises to be a fierce battle between incumbent National Publicity Secretary, Kunle Edun and returnee candidate, Sabastine Anyia.

Following a successful appeal and the reinstatement of his name on the ballot, Olayinka Sokoya will slug it out with Rapuluchukwu Nduka for the post of Publicity Secretary while four candidates – President Aigbokhan, Charles Ajiboye, Ferdinand Naza and Dominic Ochenehi – will battle for the position of Assistant Publicity Secretary. While Ajiboye and Ochenehi had appealed their disqualification by the electoral committee, leading to their reinstatement in the race, Henry Chibuike Ugwu of Ihiala Branch and Oladotun Hassan of Epe Branch did not succeed with their appeals.

Among those who were also disqualified are controversial former Ikeja Branch Chairman, Adesina Ogunlana; S. O. K. Shillings, and incumbent Assistant Publicity Secretary, Akorede Habeeb Lawal who sought the substantive post of Publicity 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.

AKPATA SETS UP ELECTION VERIFICATION HELP DESK

One of the leading aspirants for the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) election, Mr. Olumide Akpata has set up a Help Desk for the ongoing verification exercise to enable eligible voters participate in the election.

In an email sent early today, Akpata restated the publication of the final voters list by the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (“ECNBA”) for the elections scheduled for 29th and 30th July, 2020.

Outlining the verification procedure, he urged eligible voters who may have challenges with the verification process to “contact the NBA support team using support@nigerianbar.org.ng” or call the ECNBA verification hotlines.

“Feel free to contact my help desk via helpmeverifynow@gmail.com or on 08122778151, 07055115282, 08025875099, and 08037003654 to assist you in following up with the ECNBA,” he added.

The full text of the email is below:

Dear (surname)

I hope that this meets you well.

I am writing to notify you that the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (“ECNBA”) has now published the final voters list that would be used in the forthcoming elections into national offices of the NBA scheduled to hold on 29th and 30th July 2020 (the “Final Voters List”).

With the Final Voters List now in circulation, I encourage you to kindly do the following:

1.Go through the Final Voters List to confirm that you name is on it. You can view a copy of the Final Voters List by clicking on the ‘View Register’ button at the end of this email;

2.If your name is on the Final Voters List, do take steps to ensure that you “Verify” on the NBA website in order to be eligible to vote. This “verification” entails creating or updating your individual portal on the NBA website. The verification process is set out under the heading “How to Verify” below; and

3.If your name has been omitted from the Final Voters List, or if you have any other complaints about the Final Voters List, the verification process or any related issue, use the information under the heading “NBA Eligibility Complaints” below.

How to Verify
A. If you have never been verified:
I. click on the’Visit Portal’ button at the end of this email to create your own portal on the NBA website;
II. while there, click on the “Get Verified Option” and complete the simple verification form;
III. upload a copy of your call to bar certificate;
IV. afterwards, a confirmation email (containing a
temporary password and other details) will be sent to the email
address that you provided. In some cases, the email might be in your junk or spam folder or might take some time to deliver to
you;
V. follow the instructions in the confirmation email and go back to
the NBA membership portal;
VI. while on the NBA membership portal, enter your Supreme
Court Number (without any space between the alphabet and the numbers) and input the temporary password provided in your
confirmation email; and
VII. once you log in, update your profile by correcting any errors
in your details or supplying any missing information. That would be the end of the verification process.

B. If you had been verified but no longer remember the password
with which to access your portal
then:
I. click on the ‘Visit Portal’ button at the end of this email;
II. while on the portal, click Forgot Password; and
III. enter your Supreme Court Number (without any space
between the alphabet and the numbers) and follow the
instructions.

NBA Eligibility Complaints
If you have any complaints about the process or the Final Voters List, please contact the NBA support team using support@nigerianbar.org.ng or call 08165037594; 08168011579; 08165374194; 08167181605.

Feel free to contact my help desk via helpmeverifynow@gmail.com or on 08122778151, 07055115282, 08025875099, and 08037003654 to assist you in following up with the ECNBA.

Participating in the electoral process is key to achieving our collective objective of making the Bar work for all and creating a profession that we all will be proud of and happy to identify with.

I thank you for your attention and look forward to staying in touch.

Best Regards,
OLUMIDE AKPATA

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NBA ELECTORAL COMMITTEE FINALLY DISQUALIFIES OGUNLANA

I WILL HEAD TO COURT, SAYS FORMER IKEJA BRANCH CHAIR

Controversial NBA presidential aspirant, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana finally been  disqualified from contesting the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Elections, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

Confirming the incident to CITY LAWYER, a close aide of Ogunlana, Mr. Ayo Ademiluyi however said the former NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman will “definitely” head to court to challenge his disqualification. He said Ogunlana will soon issue a statement on his disqualification.

He said that the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) hinged its decision on lack of a Letter of Good Standing from the branch chairman as well as the report of the committee allegedly indicting Ogunlana on the branch insurance funds. Ogunlana has argued that the committee report was not an indictment but merely asked him to account for about N12 million of the branch insurance fund.

Other aspirants whose appeals were also unsuccessful include incumbent NBA Second Assistant Secretary Chinyere Obasi, Messrs S. O. K. Shillings and Promise Wobo Iwezor.

Confirming her disqualification in an online post to her supporters, Obasi said: “Good morning my people. I regret to inform you all that the appeal was refused. ECNBA still stood on sec 8(3) of the NBA constitution 2015 i.e. not being a NEC member for two years before the close of nomination. I thank you all for your support and prayers thus far.”

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ECNBA DISQUALIFIES OBASI, SHILLINGS AGAIN, KEEPS MUM ON OGUNLANA, OTHERS

• ELECTORAL COMMITTEE SCRIBE LOSES FATHER

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) may have concluded hearing of appeals from aspirants disqualified in the forthcoming NBA Elections.

There are strong indications that at least three of the appeals were unsuccessful, as the electoral committee sustained its decisions to disqualify the aspirants, including incumbent NBA Second Assistant Secretary, Miss Chinyere Obasi who was gunning for the post of Welfare Secretary, and Promise Wobo Iwezor, an aspirant for the post of Third Vice President.

Also disqualified is NBA Ikorodu Branch chieftain, Mr. S. O. K. Shillings who confirmed his disqualification to CITY LAWYER in a telephone interview. He was vying for the post of First Vice President.

CITY LAWYER gathered from impeccable sources that some of the disqualification letters dated June 25, 2020 were dispatched late last night by the electoral committee.

Several of the aspirants are yet to know their fate, including controversial NBA presidential aspirant, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana. The former NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman told CITY LAWYER that he “is hopeful” of a favourable response from the electoral committee. Incumbent NBA Assistant Publicity Secretary, Mr. Habeeb Lawal also told CITY LAWYER that he had not heard from the electoral committee at press time.

Confirming her disqualification in an online post to her supporters, Obasi said: “Good morning my people. I regret to inform you all that the appeal was refused. ECNBA still stood on sec 8(3) of the NBA constitution 2015 i.e. not being a NEC member for two years before the close of nomination. I thank you all for your support and prayers thus far.”

Meanwhile, tragedy has hit the electoral committee as CITY LAWYER gathered that its Secretary, Mrs. Cordelia Eke has lost her father. The deceased was buried during the weekend. Mrs. Eke has since resumed duty again at the ECNBA.

Another big casualty from the earlier exercise is former NBA Ikorodu Branch Chairman, Mr. Adedotun Habeeb Adetunji who was also vying for the First Vice President. He also told CITY LAWYER he had not received any feedback from the electoral committee as at press time. The fate of Gerald Abonyi, another aspirant for the post of Third Vice President, also remained unclear at press time.

The NBA Elections is now rescheduled to hold on July 29 and 30, 2020.

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ELECTIONS: ‘WE WILL BAN ASPIRANTS IF ….,’ SAYS ECNBA

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has warned that it will not hesitate to ban aspirants who infringe the electoral guidelines issued for the forthcoming NBA Elections.

In a statement issued yesterday and signed by ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN, the electoral committee stated that it “is closely monitoring and observing the activities and conduct of the aspirants and their supporters” regarding the constitutional prohibition of certain forms of campaigns, warning them to desist from acts that infringe the guidelines.

In an ominous note, the committee noted that “no aspirant or candidate has been granted final clearance to contest the elections,” adding that “any violation shall attract appropriate sanctions.”

The committee has also shifted the date for opening of the ballot by almost one week from July 24 to July 30 to enable it conclude a clean-up of the troubled voters register.

Following complaints on the hardships being experienced by eligible voters in participating in the verification exercise, the ECNBA has also provided some hotlines to assist voters.

CITY LAWYER had in an inaugural editorial warned that many eligible voters may be disenfranchised due to the complex verification model, urging the electoral committee to closely monitor the process and provide a Help Desk to assist lawyers who are eager to exercise their voting right.

The full text of the ECNBA statement reads:

VOTERS REGISTER, CAMPAIGNS AND ELECTION DATE.

1.0 PREAMBLE.

By the Preliminary Notice of Election dated April 15, 2020 and the Guidelines and Timeliness for the 2020 NBA National Officers Elections issued pursuant to Paragraph 1.5 of the 2nd schedule to the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar association, 2015 (as amended), the ECNBA fixed Friday the 24th day of July 2020 and Saturday the 25th day of July 2020 for the elections.

With that date in view, the Committee worked assiduously by keeping members informed of its activities, began the compilation of the register of voters to be deployed for the elections, invited and rigorously screened nominations for the offices to be contested in the 2020 NBA Election.

1.1 VOTERS REGISTER
There is no gainsaying the fact that correct voters register is very critical to free, fair and credible elections. For this purpose, the ECNBA by its correspondence (ECNBA Statements No.003 & 004) solicited the cooperation of the NBA branches in sending the list of their members and in the prescribed format to enable the Committee compile a comprehensive voters’ register to be used for the elections to ensure that our members are not disenfranchised. Surprisingly, the list of some branches contained names of members without proof of payments or whose names were not on the statement of accounts sent as proof of payments of branch dues. Notwithstanding the efforts of the Committee, some branches were either not forthcoming or their responses were inordinately delayed thus putting their members at risk of not being included in the compilation of the voters register for these important elections. The ECNBA granted extensions of time to ensure compliance by the defaulting branches and to have their members captured in the compilation. Unfortunately this opportunity was not leveraged upon; instead, the Committee has been inundated with several complaints by members that should ordinarily be addressed by the branches. The Committee has had to bend over backward within the confines of the NBA Constitution to attend to as many of the complaints as it possibly can. This, no doubt has affected the initial timeliness set by the Committee for the elections of the National Officers of the Association.

CAMPAIGNS.
The ECNBA is closely monitoring and observing the activities and conduct of the aspirants and their supporters regarding the constitutional prohibition of certain forms of campaigns as contained in the ECNBA Guidelines for the 2020 NBA Elections. We advise the aspirants and their supporters to desist from any form of unwholesome desperation and the seeming penchant to deride or disregard the election guidelines as any violation shall attract appropriate sanctions. NOTE no aspirant or candidate has been granted final clearance to contest the elections.

1.3. ELECTION DATE.
In exercise of the powers conferred on the ECNBA by Paragraphs 1.1(b) and 1.3(a), of the 2nd schedule to the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association, 2015 (as amended) the Committee has now fixed another date for the elections of national officers of the Association. Elections shall commence at 00:00 hours of Wednesday the 29th day of July 2020 and end at 11:59 hours of Thursday the 30th day of July 2020.

Members who are yet to undertake the verification of their particulars on the NBA website are advised to do so without further delay. Members are required to activate their personal portal on the website upon verification not later than the 15th day of July 2020.

A support system which will become operational from Monday the 29th day of June 2020 is being set up with the following dedicated lines 08168011579, 08165374194, 08165037594 and 08167181605 email: support@nigerianbar.org.ng

1.4 CONCLUSION.
The ECNBA is committed to all-inclusive, free, fair, and credible elections. The adjustment in the date for the elections by this notice is to enable our members participate in the choice of the leadership of their association. The Committee expresses profound appreciation to all who have assisted in the discharge of its mandate in one way or the other and solicits the cooperation of all our esteemed members for the success of this democratic process.

Dated this 27th day of June 2020.
Tawo E. Tawo
Chairman, ECNBA

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