NBA ELECTIONS: ADESINA CARPETS TRUSTEES, DEMANDS PETITION REPORT
SAYS ‘AGBAKOBA HAS NOT RETURNED MY CALLS’
BY EMEKA NWADIOKE
Dissatisfied former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN has lampooned the NBA Board of Trustees led by prominent human rights lawyer, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN on its failure to avail him with a copy of their ruling on his election petition. CITY LAWYER recalls that Adesina had petitioned the trustees seeking cancellation of the poll.
In a letter personally signed by Adesina and dated August 22, 2020 he stated that though the trustees agreed that the “the Elections were not perfect” and “strongly recommend that a major transformation of our electoral process and framework must be undertaken….,” they failed to avail him with a copy of their report.
His words: “While, I noted your appeal for the need to promote a cohesive, united and strong Bar – a cause I have dedicated over 30 years of my participation in the affairs of the NBA, I am however taken aback that notwithstanding the fact that I am the Petitioner of the Petition that the Board members sat on, deliberated and wrote a Report upon, and a copy of the Report sent to the President of the NBA and NEC, you did not deem it necessary to send a copy of the Report to me.”
Apparently displeased with this state of affairs, the Bar Leader said: “This is definitely out of order. I think it is only proper and indeed in accordance with normal practice and procedure, that a copy of the Report of the Board be sent to me as of right.”
Hinting that he is being given the cold shoulders by the BOT leadership, Adesina stated that his telephone calls and text messages to Agbakoba have not been responded to. His words: “Mr. Chairman, I have called your telephone number several times without answer and sent text messages without response with a view to asking for this Report.”
Adesina pointedly demanded that a copy of the BOT Report on its hearing on his petition should be issued to him, saying: “Please do well to oblige me with a copy of your Report on the Petition.”
It was unclear what Adesina plans to do with the report, even as there are speculations that he may head to court to challenge the outcome of the elections.
Meanwhile, former NBA Ikorodu Branch Chairman, Mr. Bayo Akinlade has dragged the NBA to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), asking the anti-graft body to investigate the elections.
In the petition which has been received by the commission, Akinlade noted that the trustees “agreed that indeed there were anomalies and inconsistencies in the conduct of the elections that required resolving,” adding that “it is to this end that I respectfully call on your goodself to investigate these inconsistencies and the following allegations….”
This is the second time in a row that the commission is being invited to investigate the NBA Elections. It is recalled that Mr. Olumuyiwa Olowokure, the deceased Technical Team Lead for erstwhile NBA presidential candidate, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN had also petitioned the anti-graft body over the 2018 Elections. Olowokure died while the petition was pending. The EFCC has reportedly filed charges against two lawyers allegedly involved in manipulating the elections.
In the petition dated August 28, 2018, Olowokure alleged that “The NBA 2018 National Elections which held from August 18 to 20 2018 has been mired in controversy following complaints of gross irregularities characterized by theft of members’ identities and data, internet fraud, interference/manipulation of the online portal…parties connived to fraudulently manipulate the electoral process to achieve a predetermined outcome”.
In a ruling dated August 19, 2020 and obtained by CITY LAWYER, the trustees had noted that they received responses from the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA); NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN; NBA President-elect, Mr. Olumide Akpata and Mr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN “in line with the principles of fair hearing.”
Noting that “we have no judicial authority to give direction to the NBA,” the Board of Trustees stated that its position “is at best advisory.”
Reviewing the responses received from the parties, the trustees declared: “We note that the Elections were not perfect. We reviewed your petition and note that it raises serious issues. Nonetheless, our advice will be the overall interest of the Bar should be paramount on the mind of every Nigerian lawyer and to that extent, we urge that all lawyers and no less the candidates be mindful of the need to promote a cohesive, united and strong Bar. We regret that we are unable to advise that the election should be cancelled in the overall interest of the Bar.”
Noting that NBA elections “continue to present challenges going back to 2016,” the trustees “strongly recommend that a major transformation of our electoral process and framework must be undertaken,” adding that “we are happy to be assigned this very important responsibility of ensuring that the incoming administration acts accordingly.”
CITY LAWYER recalls that ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN had on July 31, 2020 declared Akpata as winner of the NBA presidential election held on July 29 or 30, 2020.
According to the ECNBA Chairman, Akpata polled 9,891 or 54.3 per cent votes to beat his closest rival, Ajibade 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.
Though a total of 29,636 lawyers were accredited for the election, only 18,256 or 62 per cent of the voters succeeded in casting their ballots.
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