ELECTION CRISIS: USORO VOWS TO UNITE AKPATA, ADESINA, OTHERS

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN has committed to bridge the schism that has attended the just concluded NBA National Officers Elections.

CITY LAWYER recalls that one of the presidential candidates in the race, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN had in a searing petition to the Electoral Committee (ECNBA) carpeted the poll as a “sham election,” demanding its cancellation. Mr. Olumide Akpata was declared winner of the election, polling 9,891 or 54.3 per cent votes to beat his closest rival, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN who garnered 4,328 (23.8 per cent) votes. Adesina polled 3,982 votes (21.9 per cent) to bring up the rear. 

But in a response by Usoro addressed to NBA Past Presidents and Trustees, he stated that the election may have occasioned “wounds and bruises,” and warned against allowing the schism to deepen.

His words: “Now that the Elections are gone and past, I would, with the greatest respect, urge all our members, including the erstwhile contestants – both the winners and the losers – to join hands in healing the wounds and bruises that may have been occasioned by the Elections campaigns and results. It is inevitable that, in contests of this nature, there would be such wounds and bruises; we must however not allow them to fester and become open sores and flashpoints for divisions amongst us.”

Usoro assured that his immediate task is to facilitate the mending of fences between the combatants, saying: “That healing process is the most urgent and pressing assignment that we have, and I intend in the coming days to reach out to all the erstwhile contestants in that regard, notably, the Presidential candidates. I solicit your support and assistance, my dear Presidents and Trustees, in that task. There is much work to be done by all of us in the elevation of our Bar and we need to heal fast and then turn our attention, as a united Bar, to those tasks.”

In a detailed riposte to the allegations raised in Adesina’s petition, the NBA President vowed that neither him nor the ECNBA rigged the poll, saying that not only was the voter turnout unprecedented, the petitioner had adduced no evidence that any alleged infraction adversely impacted the result of the election.

He said it is “strange” that Adesina claimed that there were members “who received the link” but “could not vote,” adding that the “overwhelming evidence” that he received and also read on social media was that the voting process was “seamless” and “very easy for our members. I have so far not received any report from any member claiming that he or she had challenges in voting on the basis of the unique link that were sent to members from and by the Election Platform server. In any case, the ECNBA Statement No. 18 that was referenced in the Committee’s Statement No. 19 afore-referenced provided a helpline for members – 0700 5555 2020 – and I am hoping that those members who may have experienced voting challenges after receiving their unique links had contacted that helpline for assistance.”

Confirming that Adesina discussed his concerns with him before the election, Usoro said: “To reinforce the explanations in the ECNBA Statement No. 19, I further explained to Mr. Adesina that (a) all the names in the Verified Voters’ List were drawn from the Final Voters’ List that was published by the ECNBA on 01 July 2020 and that no new names were added; (b) all the names in the Verified Voters’ List are lawyers and had paid their Bar Practicing Fees and Branch Dues and had therefore met the eligibility qualification to vote in the Elections; and (c) the Elections would be determined, not on the basis of NBA branches but based on universal suffrage of the members which is the voting system enshrined in the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution, 2015 (as amended) and we should therefore not be fixated on the electronic glitches that assigned wrong branches to members. I stand by those explanations that I gave to Mr. Adesina and of course the fuller explanations that are contained in the ECNBA Statement No. 19.” He therefore warned against being “fixated” on the “electronic glitches” that assigned wrong branches to members.

Noting that Adesina has not been “forthcoming” with the details of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria that he mentioned in his petition, Usoro said: “Suffice to state that there were 29,636 verified voters for the 2020 NBA National Officers Election – a number that is far higher than the numbers we had in 2016 and 2018 for the NBA National Officers’ Elections that were held in those years. In my humble opinion, that is an advancement that we should all be proud of and should build on in succeeding Elections.”

The NBA President stated that “the relevant question to ask in regard to the security of the NBA Membership Portal is whether any member’s security was breached or compromised howsoever vis-à-vis the 2020 NBA National Officers’ Election. Prior to the Elections, I had read some non-specific allegations in that regard by a candidate and had requested for specific instance of any such breach to enable investigation by the NBA. Up till date, I have not received any such specific complaint, and none has been made in regard to the 2020 Elections. The NBA however remains open to investigate any such complaint if any is presented by Mr. Adesina or any other person.”

Usoro observed that 18,256 ballots were cast in the Elections consisting of 62% of the verified voters, saying: “That was by far higher than the number of ballots that were cast in the last 2 (two) NBA National Officers’ Elections since universal suffrage was introduced in 2015. Again, that is a feat which, in my very humble opinion, we should all exult and revel in. It reflects an incremental achievement which succeeding Elections can and should build on.”

He said that Adesina fell into error when he mistook the number of undeliverable notices for the number of persons who did not receive notices, saying that the number of notices “represented the aggregate of the undeliverable notices that were sent to each Verified Voter through the two notification channels – sms and e-mails. It also represents the aggregate number of blasts of such notices to each of the affected Verified Voter.” According to Usoro, the number of voters whose notices were previously undeliverable but were eventually able to vote also improved, climbing from 1,886 to 6,500. “That, in my respectful view, was quite commendable and showed an overarching commitment by the ECNBA to deliver on its mandate,” he said.

Alluding to the chequered issue of NBA database, Usoro said that “the inability to deliver those notices was not attributable howsoever to the Election Platform; it had everything to do with the NBA’s poor database (which, in point of fact, has been much improved under the present NBA administration) and the activation of DND in some of our members’ mobile phones.”

Usoro denied signing any Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the election portal vendor, adding that Adesina also got his information wrong on that score. His words: “In regard to the allegations relating to the procurement of the Election Platform, these are all incorrect, to the best of my knowledge. No MoU was signed on the Election Day in regard to the Election Platform. It is not quite clear what Mr. Adesina intends by his assertion that “the System . . . was . . . registered the very day the Election was to start”. As far as I know, the Election Platform, ElectionBuddy, belongs to a foreign company who has provided service such as we had for the NBA 2020 Elections in the past 12 years. Mr. Adesina, with the greatest respect, got his facts in regard to the Election Platform completely wrong. In any case, I would have thought that the more material issue should be whether the Election Platform provided satisfactory service to our members for the Elections. The evidence I have answers that question overwhelmingly in the positive. Mr. Adesina’s letter incidentally did not assert to the contrary. Regardless, the NBA remains open to address any specific queries that Mr. Adesina or any other may have in regard to the Election Platform.”

He said that Adesina left the “most critical” issue unaddressed, namely the integrity of the ballot. His words: “Perhaps I should first comment on the refreshing and complete transparency of the ballot. That is one feature that no one could dispute or quibble over. We were all election monitors, right from the first ballot to the last, using our various devices. It was possible for all our members to track the votes as they were cast. Another unique feature of the Elections was the unique link that was sent to each Verified Voter for him or her to access the platform and cast his/her ballot. That link was unique to the receiver and non-transferable; it was also not possible to use a single link and vote more than once.

“The link was delivered to members both by e-mail and sms and this was to ensure that Verified Voters all received the notification. Upon accessing the Election portal, the unique identifier that enabled voting by members was the Supreme Court Number of each Verified Voter. In effect, even if Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN’s unique link for accessing the Election Portal were to fall into the wrong hands, such wrong hands could not have cast the ballot, using that link except he or they also had Mr. Usoro’s SCN. These were all security measures that were put in place by the ECNBA to ensure the integrity of the ballot and I have not received any report from anyone whomsoever suggesting that these security measures were compromised or breached howsoever.”

Usoro said that he “had consistently committed to a free, fair, credible, transparent and unimpeachable ballot for our members in the 2020 National Officers’ Elections, right from my election in 2018,” adding: “I had also expressly informed each of the Presidential Candidates during my interactions with them that I would not rig the Election for any candidate neither would the ECNBA. The ECNBA were sworn to the same ideals as I was and I feel very comfortable holding my hand to my chest and declaring that we – the ECNBA and the NBA National Officers – lived up to those ideals in the conduct of the 2020 NBA National Officers’ Elections. I affirm solemnly and, in all conviction, that it was the transparent ballot which we all witnessed and nothing else that produced the winners of the Elections.”

PUSAN_LETTER_DASAN

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ADESINA ASKS ECNBA TO CANCEL ONGOING NBA ELECTION

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

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

In a letter to ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Tawo SAN dated 30th July, 2020 and personally signed by him, Adesina stated that the voters’ list “contained grave errors of omission and commission,” listing some of the errors as:

1. Names of purported Lawyers without Branches ascribed to them from Serial Number 25171 to 29635;
2. Names of Lawyers under the subheading “International Diaspora” from Serial Number 12182 to 12268. A clear violation of the provisions of the Constitution of the NBA;

3. Inflation of the List of some Branches. For instance, Obollo-Afor Branch on the Final List for Verification had only 39 names on the List from Serial Number 30424 to 30462. Strangely, this increased to 662 on the Verified List;
4. Deletion of Names of Members removed from the Final List;
5. Many Members names found their way to Branches other than their own Branch.

According to Adesina, “I took this matter up in a telephone discussion with the other two Presidential Candidates, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN and Olumide Akpata Esq. and a preferred suggestion was made that the matter be taken up informally with the Committee Members in the interest of the integrity of the Association. In furtherance of this, I raised the above issues with the President of the NBA and a member of the Electoral Committee. Some explanations were made though unsatisfactory by which time voting had actually started. The Electoral Committee admitted this error in their Statement No. 019 when they said among other things that “the situation is regretted but arose because members in the course of Verification did not fully update information on their current Branches and/ or sex.” Yet, nothing was done to rectify the situation.”

He also alleged that the voters’ register was padded with over 180 voters, saying: “The Addition of Votes Recorded plus Notices yet undelivered amounted to 29,820 which is 185 votes over and above the total number of voters on the Voters Register.”

He also alleged that “the System used for this Election was said to have been registered the very day the Election was to start and MoU was signed on that same day. This was done all alone by the President of the NBA.” He added that “There was no opportunity to interrogate the System before the commencement of the Election in order to determine its vulnerability, security and capacity.”

Delivering his verdict, Adesina said: “I call on you Mr. Chairman and Members of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association to cancel this sham Election. It is needless to say that if the process is bad, the product cannot be good.”

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

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

1. Failure to release the final voters list within constitutionally prescribed period.
2. Over 4000 names were without Branches as required by the NBA Constitution.

3. 86 lawyers were described as belonging to International Diaspora contrary to the provision of the NBA Constitution.
4. Padding of Voters’ list of some Branches, and reduction in the number of published voters’ list of others. An example is Obollo-Afor Branch which
has over 661 names on the voters list when the actual voters list is less than 60.
5. Several branches had names of hitherto eligible voters removed from the final list.
6. Several members had their names listed in Branches other than theirs.
7. Many members have reported that they received notification of confirmation of voting when they neither received voting links nor voted.

DASAN PETITION

ADESINA STATEMENT

EXCLUSIVE: US VENDOR TO CONDUCT NBA ELECTIONS, AS COMPLAINTS MAR VOTERS’ LIST

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

  • OJUKWU CALLS NEW VOTERS’ LIST A ‘FRAUD’

  • ‘INTERNATIONAL DIASPORA’ LISTED AS NBA BRANCH

  • OBOLLO AFOR JUMPS FROM 39 TO 662 MEMBERS

  • ECNBA ASSURES VOTERS AGAIN

A United States based electronic voting company will conduct the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Elections, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

This puts to rest all speculations regarding whether the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) will deploy the controversial NBA Election Portal for the election. The NBA portal is alleged to be fraught with many gaps that can be exploited to rig the election.

CITY LAWYER gathered that though there were pressures on the electoral committee to deploy the NBA Portal, the members opted for a vendor with proven track record in e-voting, emphasizing that their reputations were at stake.

Meanwhile, it is not yet uhuru for the final list of verified voters released today by the electoral committee, as cases of missing names and padding still ravage the latest list. This is notwithstanding that 9, 686 names were purged from the “final list” of 39, 321 eligible voters to bring the current verified figure to 29, 635.

A case in point is Obollo Afor Branch which jumped from a meager 39 members on the previous list to a whopping 662 on the latest list. An amorphous branch called “International Diaspora” has no less than 87 names on the voters’ list, while over 4, 500 names had no branches listed against them.

Commenting on the current crisis, former NBA presidential candidate, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu said: “Nigerian Bar Association 2020 – The Electoral Committee’s final list of accredited voters is a fraud! Names have been included in Branches where such names don’t exist as members. We are ready to vote on a platform of fraud again!!!”

But in its latest statement on the complaints, the ECNBA said: 

On this 29/7/2020, the ECNBA circulated the list of accredited voters for the NBA National Officers election 2020 slated to commence at 11:00PM of Wednesday, 29/7/2020.

Members are assured that the unique identifier of each voter to be able to vote remains the enrollment number which is peculiar to each voter.

The ECNBA received complaints of members being placed in branches other than their own. This situation is regretted, but arose because members in the course of verification did not fully update information on their current branches and or sex and consequently were assigned the default positions (place holder) on the verification platform.

Members are advised to proceed to vote and disregard any such branches and or sex assigned to them as these do not bear on eligibility, convenience or result of the elections.

Members may wish to update their details on the membership portal of the NBA after the elections. In respect of omitted names, please see the ECNBA previous statements, more particularly ECNBA Statement No.018

Remember ballot opens at 11.00pm today, happy voting.

One Odufa itemized some of the issues that bedevil the voters list as follows:
1. Uromi Branch which had 45 eligible voters on the final lost after the verification only 20 names were released out of which only 9 are actual members while the other 11 are unknown Yoruba names.

2. A branch Called “International Diaspora ” has 87 fictitious names. From number 12182 – number 12268 on the just released Verified List.

3. One Mr. Iredia Osifo who didn’t pay his practicing fees or Branch dues found his name on the just released Verified List. See No 5793.

4. Miss. Yat Ulan Amos didn’t pay her branch dues but her name appeared on the Verified List. See Number 3535.
5. The Aba branch had 435 names on the final list but now have over 471 names on the Verified List.

6. Members of the Isiokpo Branch discovered only 48 names of their members were released on the Verified List as against the 84 names that were previously published on the Final voter’s list.

7. Ikorodu Branch which had about 233 names on the previously released voter’s list now has only 132 names. Leaving over 100 members disenfranchised.

8. Sapele branch was formerly 100 names now 70 names out of which 20 are not branch members.

THE HANKY-PANKY OF ECNBA 2020
My attention has been drawn to the last and most recent provisional list of eligible voters published this afternoon by the ECNBA 2020 in preparation for voting which will commence by 11:00pm today. As expected, it behooves on me to check and confirm that my name and that of my colleagues in the Uyo Branch are included.

To my greatest chagrin, my name was not found in the list, and some of my colleagues who also did not find their names have called me to question why their names are omitted when they conspicuously made it to the first and second provisional list earlier published by the ECNBA 2020.

This unfortunate development raises a very serious requisition as to the competence and credibility of the ECNBA 2020 in conducting a free and fair election in the face of abundant malpractices and omissions observed by some members of our Association.

My observations are as follows:

1. Majority of members of Uyo Branch of NBA who were conspicuously listed in the first and second provisional list earlier published, who also ensured they were verified in preparation to participate in the election today, are not found in the third but last provisional list published this afternoon.

2. The names of colleagues and members who did not make it to the first or second provisional list, who as at the 31st day of March, 2020, did not pay their BPF and Branch dues, talk more of being verified, are rather miraculously included in the third but last provisional list published this afternoon.

3. As the Assistant Secretary of Uyo Branch of NBA who has knowledge of members of the Branch, it is also very shocking that some of the names allotted by the ECNBA to form the list of eligible voters from Uyo Branch are strange and unknown to our secretariat.

4. Finally, the names and branches of eligible voters in the first and second provisional list earlier published by the ECNBA were arranged alphabetically for easy readability and identification of members, compared to the third but last provisional list published this afternoon, wherein names are scattered randomly with no orderly compilation, and thousands of other names are just mentioned on the list without alloting them to their various registered Branches for easy identification and confirmation.

In the face of these unfortunate and worrisome observations, more so in consideration of voting which will commence by 11:00pm today, one will ponder on the kind of hanky-panky the ECNBA 2020 is displaying. It is unfortunate that the would be eligible voters have been disenfranchised and non-eligible and strange names have been enfranchised to vote today starting from 11:00pm.

My confidence in the ECNBA 2020 is bleak.

Udeme Rivers
Assistant Secretary
NBA, Uyo

Which one is “international diaspora “. I thought to be eligible to vote, a person must belong to a Bar Branch in Nigeria.

IMPORTANT NOTICE!!!

Dear All,

The ECNBA has just released a list of Accredited Voters of 29,635 names, which is attached below for ease of reference.

Kindly go through the list and ascertain that you name is contained therein. If your name had previously been on the Fnal Voters List as released by the ECNBA and now omitted from this newly released one, kindly send me an email urgently at: nbalagoschairman@gmail.com.

Please note that by the newly released statement from the ECNBA, campaigns are hereby suspended forthwith. Therefore, all members are urged not further post any campaign material on the platforms.

Kind regards
Yemi Akangbe
Chairman, NBA Lagos.

U. Emiri

This list is riddled with errors, most oleh branch lawyers are listed under ughelli branch. This is so disheartening, that ECNBA is not able to get it right this time again.

Caleb Adebayo

Just like we suspected, the ECNBA has repeatedly revealed its incompetence. And to think they kept acting like they had everything under control. So many errors in the list!

Good evening, Tawo Tawo (SAN), Chairman, ECNBA.

I am Samuel Chukwuemeka Odoh Esq, chairman of Sapele Branch, and I am writing you, for and on behalf of the entire members of the Sapele Branch of the NBA.

We hereby, unequivocally register the *PROTEST of the entire members of our branch on the monumental travesty done to our branch. Our members have just gone through the so-called final list of voters published by you a few hours ago.

After a very thorough perusal of the list of indicated for Sapele Branch, we were shocked to find that only 70 (seventy) names were published out over 100 (one hundred) names published in the provisional names! Our members who successfully verified are over 100 (one hundred)!

To make matters doubly worse, the 70 (seventy) names published this evening contains 20 (twenty) names who are neither known to us nor our members! We believe they are fictitious names added under our column to perpetrate fraud in this elections!

We therefore protest vehemently and demand that the situation be resolved immediately.

If our above demand cannot be granted, we hereby call for an outright CANCELATION or POSTPONEMENT of the election to a future date, as it is obvious that you are ill prepared to carry out this sacred for which you were appointed!

Thanks.

S. C. Odoh Esq.
Chairman, NBA Sapele Branch.

A PLOY TO DISENFRANCHISE MEMBERS OF THE NBA, SAPELE BRANCH FROM EXERCISING THE RIGHT TO VOTE IN THE NBA, 2020 ELECTION.
I am OKE ODINDE, ESQ, the YLF Chairman, Ex-Publicity Secretary of NBA, Sapele Branch and the “I.T Man” of NBA, Sapele Branch. I worked with the immediate past Chairman of the Branch to prepare eligible names of Branch Members and same was sent to ECNBA.

When the ECNBA released the provisional list containing the names of our eligible voters, we had 115 eligible voters from our Branch.

It is very unfortunate to state that the numbers of eligible voters of our Branch has been reduced in the just published ACCREDITED LIST.

On the said accredited list are 70 supposed names of Sapele Branch Members but the reality is that 20 names stated on the list are not members of the Sapele Branch.

Names of Persons stated to be Sapele Baranch Members on the ECNBA ACCREDITED LIST (but in actual sense are not Members); are listed hereunder.
1. BABADIDI, MELE JASCO
2. OMORDIA, NGOZI OBIAGELI
3. SAKA, RASAK AYODEJI
4. DUROSINMI, ETTI LOOKMAN
5. CHIGBO, CHINONSO FESTUS
6. AKPORHONOR, EMILY ONOME
7. ADENIRAN, ABAYOMI ADEYEMI
8. ADEJOH, JIBRIN YUSUF
9. OJIAKU, STANLEY ARINZECHUKWU
10. OBAWEYA, TAIWO FOLUKE
11. ANAENUGWU, ANTHONY CHUKWUEMEKA
12. EKWALE, SARAH OCHUKO
13. OVEDHE, NATHAN TIMOTHY
14. MARTINOS, FRANCIS OLUYOMI
15. AKEREDOLU, YEWANDE YINKA
16. CHEGWE, WEYIMI ANITA
17. AKEREDOLU, YEWANDE YINKA
18. GESE, IORSE SIMON
19. OKWUAGBALA, UCHE IRUOMA
20. GOLD, KHADIJAT KUBURA

This is a ploy to disenfranchise our Branch Members.
Our questions are
1. What happened to the Provisional List that contains the complete names of eligible voters.
2. Why would the ECNBA add names not in the Sapele Branch to the Sapele Branch List?
3. Why would the ECNBA reduce the Sapele Branch Members from 115 to 52 Members?
This is unacceptable…
OKE ODINDE ESQ.
NBA, SAPELE BRANCH, YLF CHAIRMAN

THE YLF CHAIRMAN, NWABAA CLINTON AMONG OVER A HUNDRED VOTERS FROM IKORODU BRANCH, DECRIES HIS RUTHLESS DISENFRANCHISEMENT BY THE ECNBA 3 HOURS TO NBA NATIONAL ELECTIONS; CALLS FOR RECTIFICATION OF THE ACCREDITED VOTERS LIST BEFORE THE VOTING EXERCISE.

“My name is Nwabaa Clinton O. I’m a lawyer and an active member of NBA Ikorodu branch and also the present chairman young lawyers forum, Ikorodu branch.

The NBA Ikorodu falls within 11507-11639 that means that the only accredited voters of my branch are 132 leaving well over 100 active voters disenfranchised.

I hereby raised objection to this election and as well put NBA on notice to show cause why the election should be held as I’m disenfranchised.

Shola Abiloye

Something to keep us busy until 11pm tonight. Collating the list of accredited voters in alphabetical order should be the simplest of things for the ECNBA. Why punish people because they want to vote?

Uche Ogwo

I have zoomed and zoomed and peered into and around this list, i have checked for my name and maiden name and both are not there!!!!!. I did all including the verification and got a mail saying I was verified and I CAN’T SEE MY NAME!!!. Let me not be hasty please if anyone sees Uchenna Chinyere Ogwo or Uchenna Chinyere Nweke, kindly notify me because I MUST VOTE!!!. Why my name must always be omitted is totally beyond my understanding 🤷♀️🤦

Raqeebah Oloko

Thank you so much. I have seen it. They didn’t put it under Lagos Branch and when you type search it wont come up.

Thank you yinka for saving me the trouble as I have started writing to ecnba. No time to waste when election is just less than 3hrs away

SIMPLE I. DIOHA

Good evening Sir.

I have gone through the Isiokpo Branch list and discovered that out of the original about 84 names published in all the previous lists, we now have only 48 names published.

I suspect serious mischief in the exercise because many of those whose names were omitted did their verification in my presence.

For example one IZEOMA ORLU-AKWU did her verification in my presence. Now she could not find her name in this present list despite her name had appeared in all the previous lists.

Please urgent attention is needed.

Thanks.

SIMPLE I. DIOHA, ESQ.
NBA, ISIOKPO BRANCH, RIVERS STATE.

EDITORIAL: NBA ELECTIONS 2020 – WHY WE MUST GET IT RIGHT

In a matter of hours, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 2020 National Elections will get underway. Unsurprisingly, the election has attracted frenzied interest from key stakeholders. The campaigns have been electrifying.

The run-up to the election has been thorny, occasionally uncertain. The compilation of the voters’ list was a near nightmare. Even on the eve of the election, the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) is battling to deliver a clean copy of the voters’ list. Although the Electoral Committee, mindful of the provisions of the NBA Constitution (as amended), had hurriedly published a voters’ list, it soon walked into expected controversies, given the surfeit of duplications and a few strange names on the list.

The Electoral Committee has reported a record 29,635 verified voters in excess of the 39, 321 eligible voters. Given that the 2018 NBA Election posted only 16,825 or less than 50 per cent verified voters out of the 32,228 eligible voters, this is highly commendable. In fact, there are strong indications that this number would have been higher if the verification process was more seamless. What is more, CITY LAWYER reliably gathered that the Electoral Committee members went beyond the call of duty in compilation of the voters’ list. We owe the Electoral Committee members a debt of gratitude for their sacrifice.

Equally refreshing is that the Tawo Eja Tawo SAN-led committee has been especially conscious of meeting the electoral timelines set by the NBA Constitution (as amended), notwithstanding significant challenges posed especially by the coronavirus pandemic.

Accordingly, delivering a clean voters’ list is one solemn duty and commitment the Electoral Committee must not shirk. It is the foundation on which every election rises or falls.

Another issue that has gained currency among key stakeholders is the integrity of the voting portal for the election. While the NBA leadership had incorporated an election portal in the revamped NBA website and offered same to the committee as an option for the election, some key stakeholders have poked holes on the integrity of the NBA Election portal. This has not been helped by the alleged opacity that attended the building of the voting portal.

Some stakeholders have contended that the committee’s reluctance to disclose key elements of the electoral process – including its Information Technology Consultant, the voting portal and its vendor – detracts from the high level of transparency that ought to attend the entire electoral process. On its part, the electoral committee contends that its warehousing of information on the critical election elements is a deliberate strategy to safeguard the integrity of the process. It has also stated that it is speculative that the committee would deploy the NBA Election portal for the poll.

However, aside from the alleged porous nature of the ‘voting portal,’ what is perhaps more worrisome is the speculated tampering with the NBA portal by unknown persons. In a petition to the electoral committee, one of the presidential candidates had alleged that “the NBA portal on which the verification exercise is being conducted appears not to be secure and can be easily manipulated.”

Even more damning is the allegation vide a technical report by the candidate’s ICT experts that Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF), an attack that tricks the victim into loading a page that contains a malicious request, “was exploited few weeks ago on the NBA portal where many users made complaints of their password being changed without their taking such actions personally.” Given several complaints by eligible voters on the subject, we urge the electoral committee to thoroughly investigate this charge in order to ensure that it does not imperil the election. This is moreso as the ECNBA has not rebutted the allegation till date.

It is noteworthy that more recent NBA Elections have been strewn with controversies and allegations of rigging. Both have ended up in court, while the 2018 Election led to the filing of a petition at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). It behoves on the electoral committee to do all within its power to obviate a recurrence and save the noble profession the odium that invariably attends a contentious poll.

There is also the pressing need to activate a functional internal dispute resolution mechanism. As stated in our inaugural editorial, although Section 16 of the NBA Constitution provides that “No aggrieved member shall resort to the court unless his/her complaint must have been considered and disposed of by the Dispute Resolution Committee; provided that such complaint of member shall be decided by the Committee within sixty (60) days of receipt of the complaint,” this has been observed more in breach. Given that the Trustees are the soul of unions such as the NBA, the association’s Trustees are expected to play a crucial role in mediating any dispute that may arise from the elections. However, given that perhaps most of the Trustees have inexplicably thrown their hats into the ring, it remains to be seen whether potential combatants will still repose requisite confidence in them to do justice.

On the other hand, the candidates must not see the election as a do-or-die combat. The spirit of sportsmanship must pervade the entire space. This is increasingly possible where the electoral process is seen to be free, fair, transparent and credible. Winners must also be magnanimous in victory. This will engender the much needed rapprochement at the Bar.

It has been said that electronic voting is no longer rocket science. Not only has many associations in Nigeria deployed it repeatedly for rancour-free elections, technological advancements have made it sufficiently safe, with many reputable and world class e-voting companies pervading the space. Accordingly, everything turns on the political will to deliver a free, fair and credible poll. That will undoubtedly be the best legacy of the Usoro Administration.

29,635 VOTERS TO ELECT NEXT NBA PRESIDENT

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

  • ECNBA PURGES 1604 NAMES FROM VOTERS’ LIST

  • BARS FURTHER CAMPAIGNS

  • WARNS AGAINST PARALLEL ‘HELP DESKS’

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

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

Below is the full text of the statement:

Further to the publication of the full list of legal practitioners qualified to vote, the ECNBA now presents a total of 29,635 verified and duly accredited members who have fulfilled all requirements for voting in the NBA National Officers elections 2020. This figure excludes 1604 names with duplicated phone numbers and/or email addresses.

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

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

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

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

Happy Voting!

Dated this 29th day of July, 2020

TAWO E. TAWO, SAN                    CORDELIA U. EKE

CHAIRMAN, ECNBA                            SECRETARY

Click to the link below for the accredited list

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

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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CHAMS Did Not Reject or Lose Voters’ Data – Yadudu

• Says Issue of Passwords ‘Has been Resolved’
• Advises Voters to Go for EMAIL Option
• Voters Allege Identity Theft
• Candidate Petitions ECNBA
• Voters List Challenges
• ‘Those with Missing Names May Vote’ Continue Reading