Former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu has warned that unless urgent steps are taken to redress certain anomalies, the next Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Elections in 2024 may be compromised.

In a resignation letter from the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) made available to CITY LAWYER, the fiery human rights activist also decried the prolonged indebtedness to the service provider for the 2022 Elections, saying this has created challenges for ECNBA’s ability to deliver credible elections next year.

According to Odinkalu, “For reasons that I outline below, I have come to the plain conclusion that this aspiration for a credible election in the next cycle of elections in our Association in 2024 now faces a clear and present risk of foreseeable frustration. In the light of this painful conclusion, I have reconsidered my membership of the ECNBA and hereby tender my resignation from the Committee with effect from 10 July, 2023.”

He noted that while N18 million was contracted by the ECNBA for the 2022 voting service provider, “One year after the elections took place, we still owe the provider N5.4 million, representing 30% of the agreed sum.”

Apparently miffed by the manner in which his colleague was allegedly shot down by NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN when the matter was raised at the NBA National Executive Council meeting, Odinkalu observed that “rather than address it (debt) in the spirit in which it was raised, you shut it down, complaining that you regretted giving my colleague(s) the floor. That was hardly a vote of confidence on the Committee.”

Odinkalu revealed that yet another July 2022 contract by NBA to a company to clean up its database has also run into hot water due to indebtedness, adding that “It is my understanding that relations with this contractor may now have broken down irretrievably, that the portal has been deactivated and that the data collected from this portal are not accessible to the NBA because, being indebted to the contractor, it has been denied access to the encryption keys which the contractor can only release after the debts owed to it have been reconciled and cleared.”

Noting that there are concerns that the 2024 Elections may face a charge of compromise unless steps are taken to redress the issues, the respected good governance advocate stated that “I must make clear that I do not wish to be mis-interpreted as saying that these developments are compatible with a design to compromise the 2024 election in our Association. Absent urgent course correction, however, that outcome is foreseeable.”

According to him, “I continue to believe that the credibility of elections in the NBA must be sacrosanct. This is the spirit and service compact that persuaded me to agree to serve on this ECNBA. In the light of all the facts at my disposal, however, my only option, Mr. President, is reconsider my position. This is a matter of conscience. I have come to the reluctant conclusion that I can best advance these goals outside the ECNBA and I hereby resign.”

Odinkalu was appointed into the 5-member ECNBA by former NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata to conduct the 2022 NBA Elections which ushered in the Maikyau Administration.

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