How NBA Election Will be Won and Lost

By Our Correspondent

As the curtains are gradually drawn on the hotly contested Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Officers Elections, there are strong indications that some crucial factors may determine the outcome of the poll.

Aside from the hiccups that had necessitated several shifts in the election timelines, controversies have also trailed the election, not least alleged attempts by some persons to rig the process. CITY LAWYER investigations show that some may have attempted to compromise the electoral process through identity theft. Several accounts of hijacked personal profiles abound.

Although the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) had initially attempted to ward of identity theft through a stringent verification process, this was torpedoed when the model threatened to disenfranchise many eligible voters, leading to a more pliable model. Arising from this, there are strong indications that hackers may have hijacked the profiles of some voters, moreso as significant personal information such as the enrollment number through which detailed information on each voter could be gleaned was in full glare. CITY LAWYER was however unable to determine at press time the extent to which the hackers were able to compromise the electoral process.

Meanwhile, following the contentious disqualification of former NBA General Secretary, Mr. Afam Osigwe who was adjudged to wield a major political influence among young lawyers, the battle for the NBA Presidency became a tripodal face-off between Mr. Paul Usoro SAN, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN and Prof. Ernest Ojukwu SAN.

The battle for the control of the secretariat is between Messrs Mas’ud Alabelewe, Bolaji Ojibara, Rafiu Balogun and Jonathan Taidi. Meanwhile, the full list of combatants have been uploaded by the ECNBA in its Election Magazine.

While the election has been coloured by the controversies surrounding the disqualification and adoption or otherwise of some candidates, and lately the choice of ICT partners for the election, there are strong indications that only candidates who work the hardest will coast home to victory. While the regional and voting blocs are seemingly intact, it is left to be seen how they will impact the elections in light of the amorphous electronic voting model which affords near total anonymity for voters.

However, aside from endorsements from influencers which ignited the political landscape afresh in the twilight of the campaigns, the branches remain veritable battle grounds for the mining of votes. CITY LAWYER analysis showed that while some branches with dominant voting populations may sway the elections, others are so negligible that they may be conveniently ignored by the combatants in the exacting heat of the campaigns.

The ECNBA had in a statement dated August 16, 2018 announced that of the total 32,228 eligible voters submitted by the branches, 3,571 participated in the controversial verification exercise conducted by CRENET Techlabs between July 31 and August 2, 2018 while 13,254 voters were verified between August 8 and August 11, 2018. This brought the total number of eligible voters on the voters’ register to 16,825.

CITY LAWYER analysis shows that while Lagos remains the branch with the highest number of eligible voters totaling 2476, at least two branches – Ikot Ekpene and Ilaro – have no eligible voters on the final verified list of voters. Lagos branch is trailed by Port Harcourt Branch (1184), Abuja Branch (1158), and the emergent Ikole-Ekiti Branch (917 voters) which sensationally upstaged the usually boisterous Ikeja Branch at 850 voters. Aside from these five branches, the only other branch with 500+ registered voters is Benin Branch (548).

In the 400-plus bracket are Ibadan (427) and Ilorin branches (403), the latter being the home and adopted branches of three of the gladiators for the post of General Secretary. Six branches have 300 or more eligible voters on the final verified list. These include Jos (352), Asaba (330), Uyo (324), Kaduna (314) and Makurdi (300).

The 200-plus category comprises of Calabar (263), Owerri (256), Maiduguri (222), Warri (218), Awka (216), Enugu (215) and Lokoja (202).

Split among the three zones recognized by Section 9(3) of the 2015 NBA Constitution, the Western Zone has the dominant 3290 voters, followed closely by the Northern Zone at 2951 and the Eastern Zone at 2458 voters. Given that especially all the presidential aspirants are from the Eastern Zone, there are strong indications that both the Northern and Western zones will be battle grounds for all the candidates. Aside from seemingly having an upper hand in their home branches, the ‘diaspora factor’ may also come into play in supposedly giving the presidential candidates an edge in their respective ‘adopted’ branches.

Among the fringe branches with 100-plus voters are Yenagoa (197), Akure (180), Barnawa (179), Damaturu (169), Ughelli (168), Ungogo (165), and Onitsha (168). Others include Lafia (145), Minna (143), Effurun (140), Bauchi (130), Ikorodu (124), Yola (120), Abeokuta (119), Kano (119), Bwari (104), Orlu (104) and Uromi (103) branches.

It is left to be seen how this will impact the outcome of the elections. All said, this is perhaps one of the fiercest elections in the history of the NBA. While litigations by Osigwe and Chief Jor Kyari Gadzama SAN relating to the 2016 NBA presidential election still however like a Frankenstein monster over the fate of the elections, there is no gainsaying that those who emerge victorious from the energy-sapping elections aggressively fought both through leg-work and the social media will pat themselves on the back for a job well done.

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Expect Voters’ Register Soon – Yadudu

• Candidates Shut Out of Reconciliation Exercise
• 5050 Eligible Voters Verified

There are strong indications that CRENET Techlabs is yet to conclude the clean-up of the final voters’ register following the end of the verification exercise, CITY LAWYER can report. Continue Reading

Verification Has Resumed, Says ECNBA

The Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) has formally issued a notice announcing the resumption of the verification exercise.

It also warned that any infraction of the process will be treated as a “misconduct.”

The notice confirms an earlier interview given by ECNBA Cbairman, Prof. Auwalu Yadudu to CITY LAWYER stating that the verification exercise will commence as scheduled.

Below is a full text of the ECNBA statement signed by its secretary, Mr. Bolaji Agoro:

RESUMPTION OF VERIFICATION EXERCISE FOR THE 2018 NBA NATIONAL OFFICERS` ELECTIONS
The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, (ECNBA) hereby notifies members that the verification exercise for the 2018 NBA National Officers Elections resumes at 12:00Noon, 8th August 2018. Members are advised to visit the verification portal at www. nbaelectionverification.org.ng.

To continue with the process of verification, members are advised to take note of the following guide to the completion of the form;

1. To complete this form, your NAME must be on the voters list submitted by your branch (To confirm that your name is on the list visit the NBA website at www.nigerianbar.org.ng.

2. Phone number and email address can only be used once.

3. If you have been duly verified and received a message to that effect, you need not complete this form

4. Completion of this form by proxy or impersonation of any kind is not allowed as such act will be treated as misconduct.

5. At the conclusion of this exercise, please note your reference number for records.

6. A voter must certify that the information supplied in this form is true and belongs to him/her.
The ECNBA counts on your support for free, fair, and credible elections.

Dated 8th August, 2018
Bolaji A. Agoro, Esq. Secretary (ECNBA)

VERIFICATION: We are Ready –Yadudu

There are strong indications that the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) will restart the suspended verification process at 12 noon today.

ECNBA Chairman, Prof. Auwalu Yadudu told CITY LAWYER today that the committee ‘plans’ to commence the verification process as scheduled. Continue Reading

‘Those Seeking Return of CHAMS Desperate,’ Says Ex NBA Scribe

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch Secretary and a key supporter of Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN, Mr. Adebola Lema has blasted those calling for a return of CHAMS Plc in the troubled verification exercise for the NBA National Officers Elections. Okafor is one of the three presidential candidates in the elections. Continue Reading

BREAKING: Verification Must Continue – Yadudu

Embattled Electoral Committee of the NBA Chairman, Prof. Auwalu Yadudu SAN has directed that the verification exercise should continue beyond the 10 o’clock deadline earlier set for it to end. Continue Reading

BREAKING: ECNBA Set to Extend Verification Deadline Again

• Officer Slams Branches for Chaos
• Says Compilation of Branch Voters’ List Irregular
• Branches Warn Against Disenfranchising Members

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) may for the umpteenth time joggle its timelines for the National Officers Elections, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

Although the ECNBA had earlier set 10 o’clock today as the deadline for the verification exercise, it is seemingly apparent that many eligible voters will be disenfranchised should the electoral body stick to the deadline. Continue Reading

VERIFICATION: LAGOS Branch May Sue NBA, ECNBA

• Says Less than 20% of Members Verified
• Queries List Used for Verification
• ‘Help Desk is Helpless’
• ‘ECNBA Lacks Transparency’
• Our Members are Getting Restive, Says Ikwuazom

There are ominous signs that the Nigerian Bar Association (Lagos Branch) may head to court to challenge any attempt to disenfranchise its members from voting in the forthcoming NBA National Officers Election. Continue Reading

NBA Is Corrupt, Ineffective – Ikorodu Branch Chair

Newly elected Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikorodu Branch, Mr. Bayo Akinlade has accused the association of being “corrupt, rotten and ineffective.”

In a statement released today, Akinlade, who also doubles as the Convener of Fight Against Corruption in the Judiciary (FIACIJ) also reviewed the ongoing NBA voter verification exercise and scored it low.

Below is the full text of the statement:

NBA National Election: A Colossal Waste of Time, Energy and Resources

It is embarrassing to think that lawyers will wake up in the wee hours of the morning to undertake a seemingly effortlessly task of verifying ones details. It is further embarrassing when we spend a lot of time trying to verify only to be given multi error messages.

How ridiculous is it for a chairman of a branch to receive a message that his name could not be found or no records match his SCN?

The national NBA is nothing short of a complete disappointment. We had ample time to perfect this universal suffrage idea. With all the money we spend travelling and organizing conferences we could not invest in simple data gathering and IT support mechanisms.

What infuriates me the most is when I read somewhere that it is the fault of the branches because they didn’t accurately compile list of eligible voters.

This brings me to a possible solution to this electronic voting scam election scheme. Since the national relies heavily on a list that comes from branches let us device a means where each branch becomes a polling station and each vote is cast at the branch level with each candidate having his supporter ensure it is not rigged [to say the least, it is even embarrassing to think that such an election which is for service should be rigged but the fact remains NBA IS CORRUPT, ROTTEN AND COMPLETELY INEFFECTIVE].

While there still exist a pending suit against the elections in 2016 it is very likely that there will be another suit if this elections should proceed without everyone who are eligible to vote being given a fair opportunity to cast their votes without being frustrated by the electronic system.

After all the time and efforts and money spent by candidates and their supporters, it would be sad if we don’t get this right.

BAYO Akinlade Esq.

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VERIFICATION: Odinkalu Blasts NBA, Electoral C’te

Former National Human Rights Commission Chairman, Professor Chidi Odinkalu has lampooned the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and its electoral committee for the hiccups that have attended the verification exercise for this year’s National Officers election.

Below is the full statement as sent to CITY LAWYER:

Good morning colleagues,

I have lost count of the number of people who have tried to encourage me to persevere with the verification process for these NBA elections. They are mostly people whom I respect. So I have paid them heed.

As much as I have tried, I have been unsuccessful so far and this is day 3 of trying. I can’t even begin to compute the amount of time it has cost me. Nor the hours in time I should have been asleep.

With so many of us stuck in this, I want to ask honestly why are we as a bunch of professionals so tolerant of clear incompetence? What happened to our capacities – collective and individual – for indignation?

Surely NBA’s election is not an accident. We know when it is supposed to happen. Every tenure in the NBA has 2 years notice to prepare for it. Yet here we are, out of time, with an election platform that is clearly untested, flawed in design, unknown to the electorate, not understood by the ECNBA and absolutely unfit for purpose.

As voters, we should be angry. As professionals we should be ashamed. This exercise has turned into cruel and unusual punishment of the kind that is clearly prohibited by our national constitution. No election should justify or involve this amount of pointless loss in transaction cost.

The result is that much of the electorate will be disenfranchised. Any mandate that emerges from this would have questions in legitimacy. The assurances of the ECNBA about electoral creibility are hollow, empty and utterly devoid of credulity.

I would like the NBA to have a leadership transition. I am not sure it should be purchased at the steep cost to institution credibility that we seem willing to sleep-walk into. Something has to change and fast too. We don’t have time…

I am Chidi Anselm Odinkalu

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