ECNBA APPEARS BEFORE TRUSTEES, REPLIES ADESINA

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• CONTRADICTS ITSELF ON NUMBER OF VERIFIED VOTERS
• SET TO SUBMIT CLEAN LIST OF VERIFIED VOTERS TO BOT
• ELECTIONBUDDY SUBMITS CERTIFIED RESULTS
• ‘AUDIT WILL IDENTIFY EVERY VOTER, CHOICES’
• ‘THERE IS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT,’ SAYS TAWO

There are strong indications that the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) may have appeared before the NBA Board of Trustees (BOT) yesterday as Trustees opened hearing in a petition filed by erstwhile NBA presidential candidate, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN seeking to overturn the election.

CITY LAWYER had reported that the committee was to adopt its response to Adesina’s petition at yesterday’s hearing. 

Meanwhile, the controversy over the exact number of voters on the register has refused to abate, as the electoral committee has now pegged the figure at 29,632 voters in its response to the BOT. The figure is different from the “total of 29,635 verified and duly accredited members who have fulfilled all requirements for voting in the NBA National Officers elections 2020” – as announced by the committee in its ECNBA STATEMENT N0. 018 ACCREDITED VOTERS LIST – or the “29636 eligible voters” which is still trending on the election results portal. 

In the response obtained by CITY LAWYER and titled “RE: PETITION BY JULIUS OLADELE ADESINA SAN IN RESPECT OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION (sic) 2020,” the electoral committee stated that it “through a transparent process, engaged an IT Consultant to advice the committee on the best possible options to achieve maximum result for the e-voting system and an enterprise voting platform to conduct the election.”

According to the ECNBA, “A record of Over 18,000 members of the NBA voters participated in the NBA national officers elections. In specific terms, the list of legal practitioners qualified to vote in the 2020 NBA national officers elections stood at 39,000.”

Though the electoral committee stated that “The verified voters were in excesses (sic) of 30,000,” it later declared in the response that “29,632 (75.36%) verified.”

Noting that 18,256 voters cast their ballot, “representing over 62% or verified/accredited Voters,” the ECNBA said: “The results were observed from all locations real time and same were later officially announced by the ECNBA. The election was adjudged by many as free, fair and transparent.”

Comparing the 2020 election with the 2016 and 2018 polls, the electoral committee stated that “In 2020, a total of 39,321 Lawyers made the final voters’ list, 29,632 (75.36%) verified, 18,256 voted representing 46.43% of the electorate and 61.61% of those verified by accreditation to vote.”

Responding specifically to Adesina’s petition, the committee in its 8-page defence dated August 5, 2020 and signed by its Chairman, Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN said that “no illegal, inaccurate or flawed Voters Register was used in the 2020 National officers’ elections of the Nigerian Bar Association neither was the process subverted nor manipulated against or in favour of anybody by any person.”

The committee vowed that it did not deploy any illegal voters’ register for the elections, adding that “The Electronic voting platform is designed in such a manner that a post-election audit can identify every voter and his choices at the election.”

It also debunked Adesina’s allegation that the use of NBA stamp in compiling the voters’ register imperiled the elections, saying that the “stamp and seal list for 2020 was a mere handmaiden provided by the National secretariat based on data supplied by the Branches of persons who had paid their Bar practicing fees and Branch dues as prequalification for application for stamp and seal. The Branches sent further details to cover those whose names were not on the stamp and seal list.”

On the allegation that the final voters’ list violated the provision of the NBA Constitution which set out a 28 days deadline for the publication of the register, the committee said: “This (publication of the list of verified voters) must not be confused with the (39,321) final voters’ list of legal practitioners qualified to vote as required by Article 1.2.(d) to be published at least twenty-eight (28) days before the election.”

The committee also debunked the claim that there were names of lawyers on the accredited list without branches indicated, saying that “the said names already had their branches indicated in the full list of all legal practitioners qualified to vote which was published on the 1st of July 2020.”

On the controversial issue of “International diaspora” branch, the electoral umpire said that “the names that were erroneously tagged as International Diaspora, had their correct branches indicated on the aforesaid list of 1st July 2020. The error of the International Diaspora designation arose from the fact that same was amongst the list of branches on the NBA Verification portal (perhaps for futuristic projections) and became a default place holder for any member who did not indicate his/her Branch during verification. This was addressed in the contents of ECNBA Statement No.019 thereto.”

Noting that there was no untoward activity relating to uploading of the voters’ register “that would affect the outcome of the elections or disenfranchise any voter in the elections,” the committee added that it explained in its Statement No. 019 “the circumstances around the complaints of members that they were put in branches other than their own.”

The electoral committee promised to avail the Trustees with “accredited Voters’ list with the proper Branches of members reflected,” adding that “It may be compared with the names on the final voters’ list prior to verification/accreditation.” It also noted that the “active element” for the election or unique identifier for each member was the Supreme Court Enrollment Number (SCN). “At no time did the Committee receive any complain about ‘SAN Number’ which may well have been a reference to SCN number, if at all such an incident occurred. There is no such requirement for eligibility to vote in the elections,” the committee said.

Turning to the charge of “data diddling” as alleged by Adesina, the committee said: “The ECNBA reiterates that no data was programmed and/or preconfigured to a premeditated result “in any case of data diddling”. There was never and could never be any unholy alliance and collaboration between any candidate and the ECNBA.”

The committee declared that NBA portal was not deployed for the voting, adding: “Rather, it is a foreign enterprise platform called Election Buddy with a pedigree for the kind of electoral exercise conducted by the NBA. Prior to the voting exercise, the platform had been put through series of trials via mock elections involving the ECNBA members and national officers (excluding the NBA President), with a good showing. At the end of the elections, the Certification of the election results by Election Buddy (platform provider) has also been received by the ECNBA and is forwarded with this report.”

It stated that the committee “is not unaware that for two previous elections, the IT consultants/Service providers have been subject to litigations and invitations to the various organs of the States in a manner that have not given so much credit to the NBA,” noting that “This state of affairs has made many service providers wary of doing business with the NBA.”

The committee noted that the election portal “was programmed to deliver 5 notices of the election to each voter’s phone number and email and each failed attempt was aggregated. The failure to deliver the notices had nothing to do with the capacity of the platform but the phone number/email or the facility on the receiving device.”

Though the ECNBA denied that NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN usurped its powers to engage the Service Provider, it however admitted that “The MOU for the engagement for the ICT consultant was necessarily signed by the NBA because the ECNBA is a committee of the NBA and the former has no resources of its own to pay for the services.”

Concluding, the electoral committee noted that “There is no gainsaying the fact that there is room for improvement in the NBA electoral process, especially in the manner members’ data are maintained at the Branches and the need for Lawyers to optimize their digital skills to enable the e-voting system to be user friendly cannot be over-emphasized.”

It is recalled that Adesina had petitioned the electoral committee alleging irregularities and demanding a cancellation of the poll. In a letter to ECNBA Chairman 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:

Leading solicitor, Mr. Olumide Akpata was on July 31, 2020 declared winner of the NBA presidential election held on July 29 or 30, 2020. Announcing the results, Tawo said Akpata polled 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. Adesina had a few hours to the end of the election demanded cancellation of the poll, saying it was fraught with infractions. The election was held via ElectionBuddy, an electronic voting software deployed by Edmonton, Canada based firm.

ECNBA RESPONSE

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.

SHOCKER! NBA ELECTION PORTAL RESULT TALLIES WRONG

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• ALSO, MORE VOTERS ON PORTAL THAN ON VOTERS’ REGISTER

The tally of votes on the election portal deployed for the recently concluded Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Election is incorrect, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

Also, the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) uploaded more voters than the number of voters published by the committee in its final verified voters’ register.

For the presidential race, while the election portal records that 18, 201 votes tallied and 54 abstentions were from “18, 256 ballots,” a tally of the votes and abstentions by CITY LAWYER shows that the correct total is 18,255 ballots. This shows that the total ballots shot up by one ballot.

When CITY LAWYER tallied the ballots for the post of 1st Vice President, the same error margin recurred. While the election portal hosted by ElectionBuddy, a world class election company, tallied the 17, 312 ballots and 943 abstentions at a total 18, 256 ballots, the actual figure is 18, 255 ballots.

For the post of 2nd Vice President, the election portal tallied the 15, 442 votes and 2,813 abstentions again at 18, 256 ballots as against the correct tally of 18, 255 ballots.

The tally for the post of General Secretary is not different. While ElectionBuddy tallied the 17, 941 ballots and 314 abstentions at 18, 256 ballots, the actual figure is again 18, 255 ballots, showing that the tally shot up by one ballot.

The error recurs for all the posts, including the uncontested posts such as Treasurer and Financial Secretary. The posts that suffered the same “mystery one vote” gap include Welfare Secretary, Publicity Secretary, Assistant Secretary and Assistant Publicity Secretary.

Meanwhile, the voters register deployed for the election may have exceeded the register used for the election again by one voter. While the ECNBA had in its “ECNBA STATEMENT N0. 018 ACCREDITED VOTERS LIST” declared the number of verified voters on the register as 29, 635, the records on the election portal show that 29, 636 voters were uploaded on the election platform. The notice on the election portal reads that 18, 256 ballots were “submitted of 29636 eligible voters.” 

It is recalled that the electoral committee had while announcing the number of verified voters on the final voters’ register said: “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.”

When CITY LAWYER sought an explanation on the wrong ballot tallies from the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA), its Secretary Cordelia Eke promised to provide an explanation. However, despite repeated reminders, this was not made available at press time.

Former NBA presidential candidate, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN had petitioned the NBA Board of Trustees over the elections, alleging rigging and other irregularities. In a petition dated 2nd August, 2020 Adesina stated that “Our I.C.T. Consultants informed us that though the voting site might have appeared credible on the surface as a decoy, it is apparent to state that the data uploaded to the site was programmed and preconfigured to achieve a premeditated result in an obvious case of data diddling.”

Continuing, Adesina said: “Right from the outset of the election and up till the end of same, all the candidates virtually maintained the same percentage of votes relative to each other and the total votes cast. This fact alone is indicative of the possibility of a system which was programmed towards a predetermined result. A close examination of the recorded result at different timelines shows percentage movement of the Presidential Candidates as 54%, 23% and 21% with little or no variation. The system was obviously programmed to distribute votes at either +1 or – 1 throughout the 24 hour period. According to the Interim Report of our Technical Team, “statistically, the voting result showed no randomness of any sort, which raises the question of whether there was no tampering of votes.” ”

According to results announced by ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN, Mr. Olumide Akpata polled 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. Adesina had a few hours to the end of the election demanded cancellation of the poll, saying it was fraught with irregularities. 

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.

‘GIVEN WHAT I KNOW, NBA ELECTION LEAVES MUCH TO BE DESIRED’ – FORENSIC EXPERT

  • HOSTING RESULTS ON NBA PORTAL OPENS SYSTEM TO MANIPULATION

  • NUMBER OF UNDELIVERED NOTICES IS STAGGERING BY ANY PARAMETER

  • I DON’T BELIEVE PORTAL CAN SEND 5 NOTICES TO A VOTER

  • IT’S LAUGHABLE TO BLAME DND FOR UNDELIVERED NOTICES

Dr. Dominic Ehiwe is a Consultant in digital forensics & open source intelligence as well as an investigator for software, technology and intellectual rights violations. He works in the domain of information security, project management and quality control and assurance. He is Managing Partner of EON-Peace Consult Limited, a digital forensic investigation, information security consulting and IP rights violation investigation and litigation support services provider. He is also Executive Partner with ENSOPAR Forensic & Partners, a tax, audit and forensic accounting practice.

He is a certified Software Analysis & Forensic Engineering (SAFE, USA) software & tech intellectual property violation investigator, litigation support consultant and expert witness. Ehiwe has an Advanced Diploma in Forensic Accounting & Criminal Intelligence (FACI) from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. A member of Computer Forensic Institute of Nigeria, Ehiwe facilitates part-time a fully hands-on digital forensics investigation training course with the Institute of Advanced Forensics (IAF) in collaboration with the University of Lagos (UNILAG). He also serves as a resource person with the Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) and presents at conferences.

Ehiwe received a doctorate degree in Computer Science, Management Information Systems specialization (Ph.D MIS) from Babcock University and a Master’s degree in Computing from Birmingham City University, England in 2014. Earlier in 2006, he received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics (Statistics Major) from the University of Abuja. He has participated in many professional trainings and received several certifications in Information technology, project and risk management.

In this interview with EMEKA NWADIOKE, he speaks on the recent NBA Elections and the controversies that have trailed the elections.

Please tell us briefly about yourself.
I am Dr. Dominic Ehiwe. I practice as a Consultant in digital forensics & open source intelligence as well as an investigator for software & technology and intellectual rights violation.

Before the NBA Elections, you had an interactive session with a group of lawyers under the aegis of LEGAL TORCHBEARERS where you set out the key requirements to ensure that the 2020 NBA Election was free, fair, credible and transparent. Can you give us a brief recap of those requirements?
The session was a discussion about online voting and ways to ensure security and guarantee the integrity of the votes cast. We had discussed some key requirements. These measures include:
• Have a unique means of identifying every vote cast.
• Have a stakeholder agreed list of requirements that meets your need as a body and by which you measure the outcome.
• Ensure people do not vote more than once from a single device (This is possible to achieve)
• The system and process should cater for multiple levels of authorization to avoid a single individual hijacking the results.
• There should be mock trial of the election platform so you know what to expect during the real exercise.
• Have a process in place by which the results are auditable.

How would you rate ELECTIONBUDDY an election software provider?
To be candid, I know nothing about the service provider besides what you and I read about them online. Besides, I only knew who the provider was when one of your colleagues told me the election had held and the results published. I learnt it is a company based in the US. Hearing it’s a US based company, I checked to know more about the provider and see what information is available about their services. I did note though there is no form of contact information on their site detailing location information and other basic info one would expect of a service provider located in the US. To me, such businesses can be located anywhere and claim a different geographical location.

At the close of ballot, out of the 29,636 eligible voters, 18,256 or 62% ballots were submitted while 15,234 notices were declared as “undeliverable.” What is your view on this statistics?
I was sent the link to the results via WhatsApp and the first thing I noticed was the figure indicated as undeliverable notices. I recall showing my spouse the details on my phone and her first question was were these phone numbers or email addresses not verified before the votes were cast? That number is staggering by whatever parameter you choose to look at or rate it. Moreover, at that point I didn’t have much information about how verification for the exercise was done but I knew that figure would raise questions about the process.

Given that there were 29,636 eligible voters, will you consider that 28,525 emails and 17,887 SMS are adequate?
My thought is why this disparity between the Email and SMS figures sent to eligible voters? I do not expect members of your community with valid emails not to have valid mobile numbers as well. I do not know if some of you submitted emails only and others phone numbers which may likely account for this disparity. Also, the question is, did those to vote not know the exercise was to hold and have their mobile lines switched on to receive notifications about the exercise? Perhaps, the organizers can provide better answers to these if there is any justification for the differences. In addition, supposing I receive both email and SMS notification as someone eligible to vote, what gets counted for me if I go ahead to vote using both medium? But as I said the service provider or organizers can better explain this.

The results of the election were migrated to NBA server (https://go.nigerianbar.org.ng/Results) at some point in the election. What is your opinion on this?
This is interesting to note. I would expect any form of migration be done after and not during the exercise. Besides, one would need to review the NBA server logs to be able to confirm at what point data was migrated or shared between your systems and that of the service provider. However, from a security perspective, I would expect such migration to be after the exercise. I say this from a data security and assurance perspective. If any foul play was to take place, it could have been achieved when the records are in the systems of the party with ulterior motives. That being said, I would like to leave it at simply saying I perhaps would expect to see more relevant information to make better judgement.

Is the fact that evidence of voting was not received by the voter either via email or SMS of any consequence?
This I believe is part of the requirements that should have been verified before the exercise. In my session with your colleagues on the forum, I had mentioned the need to have a stakeholder agreed list of requirements. I feel strongly this should have been part of the checks and balance criteria to judge the transparency of an exercise like this.

The candidates allege lack of information regarding the Service Provider and the Election portal. Is this a valid charge?
This is a red flag that should have been addressed. Perhaps a mock trial of the election system could have been conducted. I believe the organizing body could have arranged for an exercise like this involving select representatives of all stakeholders. A body like the NBA could work something out, I like to hope. While there are no perfect elections or systems anywhere, more visibility about the service provider and their platform would have helped.

The election management body (ECNBA) did not reveal the election software provider to the candidates. The candidates did not also witness a test run of the election portal. What is your view on this?
To me, this is unacceptable? It paints the picture of something to hide. I leave it at that.

A presidential candidate in the elections alleged that the service provider was unable to deliver 14,000 notices to prospective voters 13 hours after the commencement of the Election. If true, is this sufficient to invalidate the election?
This raises questions about the integrity of the process. It raises concerns about how voters were verified for the exercise and those whose votes are returned as valid? From an observer point of view, I like to know what notices were given to members about the process to carry everyone along. However, about invalidating the election, I had advised your colleagues about having the rules by which invalidating the process is to be done or pursued. My opinion aligns with what your body agreed on this.

There are questions around the authenticity of the voters’ register. However, the Electoral Committee states that the use of a ‘unique identifier’ such as each voter’s Supreme Court Number made manipulation or over voting impossible. How true is this, moreso as the Supreme Court Number is largely in the public domain?
Having a unique identifier is insufficient. What is the essence of a unique identifier if I can vote multiple times? One needs to know in detail the security measures put in place to prevent people from voting more than once or using invalid or non-existing SCN to vote. Are you able to tell that the service provider’s platform validates the SCN of your members? These are questions that should have been asked and answered.

The final voters’ register used for the Election was released by the Electoral Committee about five (5) hours to the election. Is this sufficient to invalidate the register or the election?
This is laughable. If that is the case, I am confident to answer in the affirmative. Five hours? To verify accuracy of the records in 5 hours? For a body like yours?

A case of data diddling has been alleged, as especially the presidential candidates were said to have maintained the same percentage of votes relative to each other and the total votes cast throughout the election. It is alleged that the system was programmed to distribute votes at either +1 or –1, and that statistically, the voting result showed no randomness. What is your view on this?
I believe an independent auditing of the configurations agreed and set on the systems can show the real picture about this. I still like to stress that more visibility of the whole process would have helped. I also recall advising your forum colleagues on the need to have security professionals review the platform of the service provider. Perhaps, the election committee can tell you more about what checks were carried out.

About 38% of eligible voters could not cast their ballots as they did not receive voting links. How significant is this figure in an electronic voting system?
Very significant. This is close to half the number of eligible voters. This is significant enough to skew the results in a particular direction given the circumstances at play or engineered by anyone willing to achieve pre-defined objectives.

The NBA states that the 15,234 “undelivered notices” represent aggregate of undeliverable notices that were sent to each Verified Voter through the two notification channels – SMS and emails. It also represents the aggregate number of blasts of such notices to each of the affected Verified Voter. It states that there was a minimum of 5 blasts of notices to each voter or an aggregate 10 undeliverable notices, made up of 5 SMS and 5 e-mails – but did not represent the number of persons whose notices were not delivered. What is your view on this?
I do not believe the service provider runs an application system capable or configured to do this. I know the standard number of retry notifications application servers or services send is at most 2 to 3 notifications. One would need to see the service level agreement agreed with the provider to confirm this. Also, there are server logs that should show the number of notices sent. But to say five notices for that number of recipients begs for justification.

Do you agree with NBA’s assertion that the inability to deliver notices to voters was not attributable to the Election Platform, but to NBA’s poor database and the activation of DND in some voters’ mobile phones?
It is laughable to mention DND on mobile phones of members of a body looking forward to vote in an election. Did these people stop receiving messages before the election or had DND set for notices from the NBA prior to the exercise? Like I said, what was communicated to members prior to the election? How much sensitization was done about the whole process and what, as stakeholders, everyone had to do to achieve a fair exercise?

Do you agree with NBA’s view that the election was free, fair and credible because the link to each voter was unique and non-transferable, and it was also not possible to vote more than once using a single link?
Besides unique link and non-transferability of the link to vote, can we attest to a case of non-eligible or non-existing members not having participated in the election? The vote records are available somewhere. When in doubt, I believe further review should be possible to clarify the doubts where necessary.

Given what you know about the election, will you consider it as free, fair, credible and transparent, and why?
Based on what I know and have read from your members about the verification process and how the exercise was conducted, it leaves much to be desired in terms of credibility. I believe the organizers know this as well.

What are your suggestions for future NBA elections?
Be better organized and transparent. Involve relevant stakeholders in the process. Thank you.

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

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

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

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

* ‘YOUR OPACITY IS A SOURCE OF CONCERN’

* WARNS THAT MANY ELIGIBLE VOTERS MAY BE SHUT OUT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

 

 

 

‘WE’VE NOT SET VOTER VERIFICATION DEADLINE,’ SAYS TAWO TAWO

• …. MIXED REACTIONS GREET EXERCISE
• “MY EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN TERRIBLE,” SAYS FUNKE ADEKOYA
• … WARNS THAT MANY ELIGIBLE VOTERS WILL BE DISENFRANCHISED

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has declared that it has not set any deadline for the ongoing verification exercise, contrary to speculations that verification was billed to end yesterday.

ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN told CITY LAWYER that the committee has not decided on when to draw the curtains on the exercise.

Speaking on whether a deadline has been set to conclude the verification process, he said pointedly: “There is none yet.” The electoral umpire was also at a loss as to the source of the speculation, saying: “I wonder the origin of the confusion.”

The frenzy may not be unconnected with certain posts on social media platforms suggesting that yesterday was the deadline for the verification exercise.

A post trended on several social media platforms yesterday urging lawyers to make haste to verify their personal details on the NBA website. It stated that only 48 hours was allowed for the exercise, adding that it would end by 6 pm. The post read: “Today is the deadline for all eligible lawyers to verify their details on the NBA Website. Visit https://nigerianbar.org.ng/membership-portal. #Securethefuture.”

Another version of the post which was sent to lawyers via short messaging service (SMS) read: “Dear (name of receiver), The ECNBA has released the 2nd List of Voters. Kindly verify that your details are correct. If they are not, send the correct details with proof of payment to ecnba2020@nigerianbar.ng not later than 6pm on 23/06/20. You can verify via https://nigerianbar.org.ng/membership-portal.” The message came under the “BULK SMS” banner.

The information caused anxiety among lawyers, leading to many making frantic efforts to verify their details.

CITY LAWYER investigations show that the speculation may also not be unconnected with the ECNBA press statement unveiling its second provisional voters list where it stated that “Those whose names are omitted are expected to send their details with proof of payment of Branch Dues within 48 hours of this publication to the account ecnba2020@nigerianbar.ng. Please note that any mails or messages sent after 6PM on Tuesday 23rd June 2020 will not be attended to.”

Given that the verification process was heralded by the press statement, many stakeholders may have assumed that the deadline was for both the compilation and verification exercises.

Meanwhile, there has been mixed reactions regarding the verification exercise. While some lawyers said that the process was stress-free, others seem to have had a herculean task navigating the verification process on the NBA website.

One of those who had a tough time engaging the process is former NBA presidential candidate, Mrs. Funke Adekoya SAN. She told CITY LAWYER that her experience was “terrible.” Her words: “My experience has been terrible. I was verified before but forgot password; so I sent ‘forgot password’ message. I have been waiting for password reset email since yesterday (Monday). I received email this (Tuesday) morning and accessed link – it says password cannot be reset. I sent email to NBA Secretariat 4 hours ago – still no response!”

In an early morning SOS to CITY LAWYER, Mr. Augustine Ogbodo said: “I don’t know if you have any clue on verification of membership on the NBA portal. I have been trying to log in to the portal to verify my membership but have not been successful. I tried reaching NBA via telephone but wasn’t successful.”

Immediately CITY LAWYER escalated the SOS on some social media platforms, there was a flurry of responses both from the ECNBA and the NBA leadership. While the NBA publicity team uploaded several versions of the verification process on sundry social media platforms, the ECNBA Secretary, Mrs. Cordelia Eke advised eligible voters who have challenges with the verification process to “contact the NBA IT staff in charge.”

She added: “A lot of phone calls (are) coming (in). They may not be able to take all. We advise people to send emails. It’s easier to track and treat complaints that way.” She assured that she “will ask the IT staff to look into this (complaint).” She later stated that “Members’ complaints about the website have been forwarded to NBA IT to handle.”

When CITY LAWYER asked Ogbodo to provide more details on his challenges with the verification process, he said: “I was prompted to supply new password and to confirm same. I did so but was again prompted to insert the correct format.” He then requested the “contact or email of the IT staff?” adding: “Thanks so much for your efforts. I have sent them an email. Waiting for their response. I sent the email to support@nigerianbar.org.ng as indicated.”

Unlike NBA Lagos Branch Welfare Secretary, Anthonia Eke who stated that “I had a seamless process updating my data on the verification portal of the NBA,” both Adekoya and Ogbodo eventually surmounted the verification hurdles.

Said Adekoya: “(I) Have finally been verified! A 24 hour process. With WFH (working from home), even if you have been verified (as I have) if you do not have an ‘active’ profile on the NBA website, you are unlikely to be able to vote. An ‘active’ profile means you interact with the NBA through your portal on the NBA website. (It is) Not the same as being verified.”

On his part, Ogbodo told CITY LAWYER that “This is what I have been missing. I have been trying to put the password without inserting figures and special number. (I) Have just done the needful and Password successfully reset. Thanks for your assistance.”

Worried that many lawyers may be disenfranchised by the verification model adopted by the ECNBA, Adekoya predicted a very low voter turnout in the 2020 NBA Elections. her words: “(I) Will be surprised if up to 3000 voters receive voting link from NBA website.”

CITY LAWYER also observed that the ECNBA press statement was silent on the details of any Help Desk or help lines for eligible voters who may have challenges with the verification process.

It is recalled that while 32, 228 eligible voters were on the provisional voters register for the 2018 NBA Elections, only 16,825 or 52.21 per cent of the eligible voters were able to scale the verification hurdle. Analysts have observed that the 2018 verification process is more straightforward than the current exercise, leading to fears that even fewer eligible voters may get their names on the final voters register.

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. 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.

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

NBA ELECTION: Clean-up of Voters’ Register Gets Underway

• ECNBA, Candidates, ICT Experts Parley
• Fresh Verification Exercise Doubtful

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has about now commenced a “clean-up” of the recently released final voters’ list in line with resolutions reached at the meeting of the NBA leadership with past NBA presidents and secretaries. Continue Reading