Wednesday, 8 July, 2020

MIXED REACTIONS, AS LAGOS LAWYERS GO TO POLLS TODAY

888 Members to elect new Chair, Others
• Voters recount experiences

Voting has commenced in the Nigerian Bar Association (Lagos Branch) 2019 Elections as members are set to elect a new set of executives to administer the branch for the next two years.

According to figures published by the Mr. Richard Akintunde SAN-led Election Committee, 888 members are qualified to elect the new Executive Committee of the branch. While an initial 793 members made the voters’ list, additional lists of 90 and 5 members were later released by the committee following resolution of complaints filed by members who did not originally make the list.

However, the actual number of voters may be less, as about five names may have been duplicated on the voters list, bringing the final figure to about 883 voters.

Meanwhile, there has been mixed reactions regarding the voting process. While some voters took to whatsapp forums to announce that they had voted successfully, others complained that they had been unable to vote.

A senior lawyer reported that he received the following message when he attempted to vote: “The Internet connection between your web browser and the election server is currently experiencing a speed degradation. Please try again in a few seconds. If the problem persists, please send an email to support@vote-now.com and include the URL that you are attempting to load. We apologize for any inconvenience. Friday, June 28, 2019, 4:10:02 AM ET USA.”

When CITY LAWYER viewed the website, it indicated “Heavy Election Traffic” at 9:33 am.

Yet another eligible voter said: “I am yet to receive my link. My number and email was on the final list and I have resent it again to the above link provided, still no link.” A member however advised those who were yet to receive their links via email to telephone to “also check their spam (folder).”

On the suspicion that it was “heavy traffic” that was causing the disruption, a popular senior advocate disagreed, saying: “Heavy traffic slowing the voting process. 888 voters shouldn’t be heavy!” He however stated that “May be the rainfall is a contributory factor!”

Commenting on the “speed degradation” problem, a voter said: “I got the same message on my first attempt. But I tried it immediately thereafter and I was able to do it (vote).”

Some however poured encomiums on the Election Committee, describing the process as seamless. The Silk stated: “I eventually voted and have sent my comments as advised. I think with patience all eligible voters will be able to vote. There is still room for improvement in the process but all the same kudos to the election committee. Long live the Premier Branch!”

Social Secretary Uche Nwadialo was among those who reported that they had voted successfully, while another apparently excited voter said: “Voted. Electoral Committee members, kudos; very seamless. Thank you AKINTUNDE SAN for saving me from running around in the rains today. Our learned Silk Mr. AKINTUNDE SAN, you are too much.”

Twenty-two candidates http://nbalagoselections.com.ng/qualified-candidates/ are gunning for the 11 available votes, making an average of two candidates per post. Some of the candidates have however clinched their positions even before the voting commenced, as they are the only candidates vying for the posts. These include the posts of Treasurer, Financial Secretary, Welfare Secretary, Publicity Secretary and Provost.

Some voters had started receiving links to enable them access the voting portal on the eve of the elections. A sample of the text message received by a voter reads:
To: (Name of voter)
Registration code: xxxxx
6/28/19, 9:xx AM

“As you requested, the link below will load your record of the selections you made in the Nigerian Bar Association Lagos Branch 2019 Elections:

https://vtnw.com/mv.html?c==/elections/org/NBALagos/

You can print this web page for a hard copy of your choices if you prefer. The web address will be valid until the close of the election.”

An earlier notice by the Election Committee Chairman read: “ELIGIBLE VOTERS! PLEASE TAKE NOTICE ELECTRONIC VOTING FOR THE 2019 NBA LAGOS BRANCH ELECTIONS OPENED TODAY 28 JUNE 2019 AT 9.00 AM AND CLOSES AT 5.00 PM.” This was followed by another post thus: “PLEASE NOTE: Eligible voters who have not received the voting link should send their name email and phone number to nbaelection2019@gmail.com”

Akintunde had told CITY LAWYER in an interview that “Candidates will be allowed to nominate agents who will be granted some access to the Situation Room, where the ballot process will be monitored.” CITY LAWYER gathered that voting points and a Situation Room would be set up at the Lagos High Court Foyer. While eligible voters will utilize the voting points to cast their ballots, agents of the candidates will be permitted access to the Situation Room to view the election as it unfolds. However, only graphs showing the results being garnered by each candidate will be visible to the agents. The agents are also barred from going into the Situation Room with their telephones or recording the process.

A chairmanship candidate told CITY LAWYER that “this (Situation Room viewing centre) is an improvement from the 2016 NBA National Officers Elections which caused a lot of controversies.”

Sources at the stakeholders’ meeting told CITY LAWYER that the Election Committee assured that there would be a paper trail showing the entire voting pattern. It is not clear at press time whether an audit of the process will be done before release of the results or after completion of the exercise.

While Messrs Adebola Lema and Yemi Akangbe as well as Bolatumi Animashaun are gunning for the post of Chairman of the branch, Messrs Bode Omoboriowo, Chuks Nwana and Okey Ilofulunwa are vying for the Vice-Chairmanship position. The race for Secretary is between Moshood Abiola, Obinna Okereke and Tochukwu Chukwumerije.

The Social Secretary battle is between Ngozi Egeonu and Adefowoke Ayo-Ponle while Ben Ihesiulo, Harry Ukaejiofor and Dumgbara Torbari will square up for the post of Legal Adviser. Elo Adhekpukoli, Hammed Bakare and Ifeoma Ben will slug it out for the post of Assistant Secretary.

Candidates whose nominations were not challenged include Foluke Akinmoladun, Treasurer; Chinenye Oragwu, Financial Secretary; Anthonia Enitan Eke, Welfare Secretary; James Sonde, Publicity Secretary and Florence Chijioke-Duru, Provost.

The election ends at 5 p. m. today while results are expected immediately afterwards.

Vote-now.com, LLC (US) (VTNW) is the service provider and ICT Partner for the elections. According to the Jacksonville, USA based company, “The VTNW balloting system was specifically designed by University Scientists for use in Professional organization elections. With 21+ years of experience conducting web-based elections, we have assisted hundreds of business and academic professional organizations, HOA’s, non-profit groups, and universities with their balloting needs. Our experience makes a key difference in providing a smooth and easy to use election process for your members. We have served over 2375 ballots to date (millions of voters).”

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INVESTIGATION: UNVEILING NBA LAGOS ELECTIONS ICT PARTNER

VOTE-NOW.COM has been selected by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch Election Committee as its service provioder for the election holding tomorrow. In this article, CITY LAWYER tracks the antecedents of the electronic voting company which has conducted similar elections for the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), Nigeria Branch. The article is culled from https://vote-now.com.

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