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.


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Erstwhile Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Mr. Dele Adesina has said that it was the association and not him or his supporters that lost the recently concluded election.

In a statement dripping with passion, Adesina also warned that NBA may have “lost the last opportunity to re-invent itself,” adding that “time will tell.”

He described the poll as “electronic fraud,” saying: “However, please remember that for those who masterminded, planned and executed the NBA election electronic fraud, no hero has ever emerged out of treachery no matter how noble he thinks his cause is.”

The full text of his speech is below:


To all my dear Supporters and Colleagues, particularly my Friends and Co-workers on various social media platforms, DASAN Committees, NBA Forums and Platforms, l once again wish to express my heartfelt gratitude and profound appreciation to each and everyone of you for the wonderful role you played in our attempt to re-create our Association by making it a positive catalyst for the Legal Profession and our Nation. We thought they would respect the very wide acceptability level we enjoyed through-out the Nation and different blocks and allow a fair, free and transparent election. Unfortunately, we never knew that the degree of audacity will be this brazen. We were going there to change the ways and show the path to follow, to demonstrate the meaning of true leadership in purity, honesty of purpose and integrity. Regrettably, those who hold the NBA in suffocating throat know the reason for doing what they did.

One clear thing from these past weeks is that we have built a strong bond of friendship and brotherhood thereby creating connections across the Nation. To all our partners, I urge you all to continue in this spirit of fellowship and keep our connections active as we are all together in this journey of life and career fulfilment in the true spirit of being “our brother’s keeper”. Please, do not exit the Forums and Platforms as it is my desire that we stay together, look after each other’s welfare and mutual progress. The NBA Presidency for me was not an end in itself but really a means to an end. The difference only is that the focus may now be shifted from that of institution to the individuals and that is you.

My believe and that of many, both within and outside of the Bar is that the election of yesterday July 30, 2020 was lost by the Nigerian Bar Association not me or you who worked tirelessly for the repositioning of our Association, the restoration of its honour, glory, integrity and the security of the future of our beloved Profession. Whether or not NBA has not lost the last opportunity to re-invent itself, time will tell. However, please remember that for those who masterminded, planned and executed the NBA election electronic fraud, no hero has ever emerged out of treachery no matter how noble he thinks his cause is.

Once again, I thank you all for your support. God bless you and bless the works of your hands.

Dele Adesina, SAN, FCIArb.

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At exactly 12:53 am early today, the Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA), Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN declared Tier-One solicitor, Mr. Olumide Akpata as winner of the NBA presidential election held last Wednesday and Thursday. Akpata is billed to be sworn in late August as the 30th NBA President.

The announcement of the official results, monitored by CITY LAWYER, was broadcast live on many social media handles and witnessed by ECNBA members, a broadcast station and some agents of the candidates in the election.

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.

According to the ECNBA Chairman, 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. Mr. Dele Adesina SAN 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. The election was held via electionbuddy, an electronic voting software deployed by Edmonton, Canada based firm.

Other winners are John Martin who polled 6,010 votes to clinch the post of NBA First Vice President; Adeyemo Kazeem (Second Vice President with 8,794 votes); Joyce Oduah (General Secretary with 8,979 votes); Olukunle Edun (Welfare Secretary with 9001 votes); Rapulu Nduka (Publicity Secretary with 11,964 votes); Uchenna Nwadialo (Assistant Secretary with 7,314 votes) and Naza Afam (Assistant Publicity Secretary with 6,490 votes). Mercy Ijato Agada (Treasurer) and Raphael Anagor (Financial Secretary) polled 16, 487 votes and 15,824 votes as unopposed candidates.

Though Ajibade poked holes in the electoral process, he said in a statement that he had “called Mr. Olumide Akpata and congratulated him on his election as the 30th President of our great association, the Nigerian Bar Association, in the elections held on 29th – 30th July 2020.”

Commending the “level of the debate and the quality of the ideas that were brought forth,” Ajibade however expressed dissatisfaction with the electoral process, saying: “It is unfortunate that the process leading up to and during the election itself have, once again, not been devoid of controversy.  It is my fervent hope that we will get over these repeated challenges with conducting objectively free and fair elections into the leadership positions in the association.”

Saying that “we cannot succeed in addressing the challenges confronting our profession unless we unite,” Ajibade added: “I urge the incoming President and his executive to take deliberate and proactive steps to unite the Bar.”

Meanwhile, several Bar Leaders and forums have also congratulated Akpata on his victory.

Influential former NBA President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN, who is believed to be a staunch supporter of Akpata, said: “I most heartily congratulate Olumide Akpata Esq. on his election as the 30th President of the NBA. I also felicitate with the other elected National Officers on their victory at the polls and urge Members of our Association to support the newly elected National Officers as they take steps to deliver on their mandate to lead the Bar for the next 2 years.”

He commended Adesina and Ajibade “for their maturity and candor,” and urged them to “work with the incoming President in his efforts to make Our Association better. This is a time for unity in the best interest of the Association.”

Saying the election would not have been possible due to the coronavirus pandemic save for the introduction of electronic voting, Alegeh stated that “elections are never perfect.” He urged the incoming administration to “improve on the gains recorded in the electronic voting system that guarantees universal suffrage under our Constitution.”

Commending the Usoro Administration “for the successful conduct of the elections and the efforts so far in moving the Bar forward on several fronts,” the erstwhile NBA President whose regime introduced universal suffrage and electronic voting said: “I know that the Incoming-President will be magnanimous in victory and will run an all-inclusive administration geared towards improving the NBA to handle its core mandate of promoting the rule of law, human rights as well as the welfare of its Members.”

The NBA Young Lawyers Forum (NBA-YLF) also congratulated Akpata and other elected National Officers on their victory. In a statement by the Chairman and Secretary of its Governing Council, Tobi Adebowale and Patricia Udeh, it said “The YLF remains unequivocally willing and available to engage with all relevant stakeholders for the benefit of Young Lawyers and all other members of the NBA.”

In a statement by the factional Chairman of Mid-West Bar Forum, Chief Chike Onyemenam SAN, the body congratulated Akpata, Aikpokpo-Martins and Edun on their “resounding and landslide victory,” adding that “by your victory at the polls which was  democratic, transparent and clearly demonstrated your acceptance by the entire members of the Nigerian Bar Association devoid of tribal or sectional considerations, you have done the members  of the 14 N.B.A. branches  of the Mid-West Bar Forum proud and  demonstrated to all that in spite of the shortcomings of the political class in our great nation’s efforts at democracy, Nigerian lawyers are still capable of conducting their own affairs in a democratic manner.”

On its part, the Eastern Bar Forum (EBF) in a statement by the Chairman, Mr. S. Long Williams, congratulated Akpata and other elected officers. It noted some lapses that bedeviled the poll, but described the election as “free, fair and credible.”

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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.




The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has stated that over 13,000 lawyers have voted in the ongoing NBA National Officers Election, even as the electoral umpire is worried that many eligible voters may not receive their voting links due to telecommunication challenges.

Below is the full text of the ECNBA statement:

The ECNBA can confirm that over 13,000 individuals have voted in the ongoing NBA National Officers elections so far.

The ECNBA however clarifies that, Notices observed on the live voting platform as undeliverable can be attributable to any of the following 5 reasons:

  1. Voter has an inactive Phone Number
  2. Voter has invalid Phone Number (does not exist or is too short or too long)
  3. Voter has invalid Email Address (Wrongly spelt and does not exist OR their Domain has expired)
  4. Spam Filter on Voter’s email blocking direct delivery of emails. Voter can check Spam folder.
  5. DND is active on Voter’s phone and the message has been blocked by Telecommunication company.

 To deactivate DND take the following action:

  • 9mobile (Etisalat) numbers, Text START to 2442.
  • MTN numbers, Text ALLOW to 2442.
  • Glo numbers, Text CANCEL to 2442.
  • Airtel numbers, Text ALLOW to 2442.

Note also that the election server makes 5 attempts to deliver to each phone number/email and all those failed attempts are reflected as undeliverable. A subsequent attempt could still be successful if the challenge is resolved.

The ECNBA can confirm at the last check that at least 1,886 individuals of the Undeliverable Notices displayed on the live monitoring platform have since voted, because they got the message through one of the two channels used – Email or SMS.  The committee also confirms that messages have been sent using local networks to up to 8,000 numbers with active DND advising them to deactivate same.

Voters yet to view the election link through their email or SMS, are advised to ensure that DND is deactivated on their phones and check Spam folder in their emails.

The ECNBA continues to monitor and troubleshoot and will provide updates as necessary and required.

The ECNBA election hotline 070055552020 is still available for support to voters.

Dated this 30th day of July, 2020

Cordelia U. Eke(Mrs.)

Secretary, ECNBA


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.



The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has resolved that TAVIA Technologies Limited, the company that built the NBA Election website, will not conduct the e-voting for the forthcoming NBA Elections.

Disclosing this in an interview with THISDAY LAWYER, ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Tawo SAN however stated that the electoral committee may still deploy the election platform built by the ICT firm for the forthcoming NBA Elections. The committee did not also state whether TAVIA would be given any other role in the run-up to the elections.

His words: “It may be of interest to point out that, the IT firm, TAVIA, that developed the NBA election portal/platform, is not conducting the e-voting election for the NBA; rather another IT consultant will do that.”

According to the ECNBA helmsman, “there was the need to engage an independent IT Consultant to analyse, assess and critique the portal as to its integrity, functionality and suitability for the elections, or otherwise advice (sic) on other options.”

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report on May 11, 2020 hinted on the existence of a ready-made election portal commissioned by the Mr. Paul Usoro SAN-led administration thus: “It was unclear at press time whether the vendor’s scope of work included a mandate to deliver an election portal for the forthcoming NBA Elections, given the notice issued by the ECNBA seeking proposals to recruit an ‘Information Technology Specialist.’ ”

The existence of the election portal was subsequently confirmed by the ECNBA Chairman in ECNBA PRESS STATEMENT NO. 003 released on May 15, 2020 when he said: “The Committee was briefed that the NBA has its own e-voting platform/portal for elections developed by TAVIA, an IT firm. TAVIA was invited to brief the Committee in conjunction with the NBA IT Officer Umar Gezawa, on the said NBA election platform/portal.”

According to the electoral umpire, the final decision on whether the ready-made NBA voting portal would be deployed for the election would be based on an assessment of the integrity of the election website by the committee’s Information Technology Specialist. It was unclear at press time whether the committee has chosen a specialist, as it is yet to issue any statement in that regard.

Noting that there are advantages of a dedicated NBA Election Portal for all times, Tawo however said that the fate of the portal spearheaded by the Usoro Administration will be determined by the committee alongside its consultant, adding that “the e-voting portal to deploy for the election would depend on the advice and report of the IT Consultant engaged for the election, upon analysing the existing NBA election platform.”

He also gave insights on the challenges facing the committee in midwifing a free, fair and credible election. The full text of the interview is below:

NBA Elections Will be Free, Fair and Credible
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), is unarguably the largest professional body in Africa. With almost 200,000 members, the body’s biennial elections come with understandably humongous challenges. This year’s elections to its national offices present no less, and Mr Tawo Eja Tawo, SAN has been given the herculean task of midwifing the elections, which will be by universal suffrage and e-voting. In a chat with Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi, he outlined the responsibilities of the Nigerian Bar Association Electoral Committee (ECNBA) of which he is Chairman, and gave insights on how his Committee intends to deliver a free, fair and transparent election next month

A few weeks ago, you assured Nigerian Lawyers that your Committee would deliver a credible, free and fair election. What specific plans do you have in place to fulfil this promise, given the fact the last few elections of the Nigerian Bar Association were trailed with controversies?
The assurance to deliver a credible, free and fair election for the NBA, still stands. To achieve that, we will ensure adherence to the attributes or ingredients of a credible, free and fair election, to wit, inclusiveness, transparency, accountability and competitiveness in the 2020 general elections of the National Executives of the NBA. Inclusiveness; where members of the Bar are provided equal opportunities to participate in the elections either as voters or candidates subject of course, to the Constitution of the NBA. Transparency; where members and stakeholders can verify independently, the conduct of the electoral process. Accountability; where the rights of the members with respect to the conduct of the stakeholders and candidates in the election is sustainable, and competitiveness where members will have reasonable and equal opportunities to compete in the elections.

The Committee has a road map of activities for the election, which commenced with the issuance of a preliminary notice for the elections. Thereafter, the guidelines for the elections were issued, and nomination of candidates opened on May 11th, 2020 and closed on May 29th, 2020. We are in the process of screening the nominees, before publication of the list of candidates. There shall be a period for appeals, as provided for in the election guidelines. We have, and shall be issuing periodic statements, to put members in the know of the activities and the electoral process.

We are aware that one of the keys to the successful delivery of our electoral mandate, is the compilation of an authentic and credible voters register consisting of only the names of eligible voters as prescribed by the Constitution of the NBA, in order not to disenfranchise any qualified member from voting. Secondly, since the election is by e-voting, the deployment of a suitable election portal/platform that is easily accessible and user friendly is very important, and this has to be done on the advice and in consultation with a credible IT Consultant engaged for the purpose of assisting in the conduct of the election, which will also include voter education for the use of the election portal.

Nigerian Lawyers were shocked when you stated in a recent press release, that the NBA presented your Committee with an already prepared e-voting platform, over which your Committee had no input. This has raised serious apprehensions in the minds of many, that it could be a ploy to rig the elections in favour of a particular candidate. Is your Committee ready to accept that voting platform to deliver the election? If so, how will you be able to convince Lawyers that the elections will be free and fair?

If you had the opportunity of reading my press statement No. 003 of May 15th, 2020 captioned “The Journey so far”, you would have discovered that those were not my words. However, I want to believe that was the understanding of the reporter who chose such a headline for his story. What I said was that, the Committee was briefed that the NBA has its own e-voting platform/portal for elections developed by an IT firm.

I did not say the e-voting platform/portal was developed specifically for the 2020 elections, and neither did I say anything that should warrant an inference that the NBA developed platform was created for the purpose of rigging the elections, far from it. It may be of interest to point out that, the IT firm, TAVIA, that developed the NBA election portal/platform, is not conducting the e-voting election for the NBA; rather another IT consultant will do that. I went further in that statement to state that, in spite of the obvious advantages of the NBA portal, namely reduction in cost and security of members data vis- a-vis deployment of another election platform or portal, there was the need to engage an independent IT Consultant to analyse, assess and critique the portal as to its integrity, functionality and suitability for the elections, or otherwise advice on other options.

Let me say this, we as a people, not just Lawyers but Nigerians, have so much programmed and skewed our mind set and perception to negativism and pessimism, that we fail to see or look at the good side or intention of a particular exercise or project; rather we look and search for the bad, the ugly and the hidden agenda, even when none exist.

That is why bad news sells faster. Having said that, what is wrong for an organisation that conducts a crucial election biannually to develop an election portal for use for its elections, rather than every two years an IT firm is commissioned or contracted to develop an election portal for the election, and discard same afterwards?

However, like I stated in the said Statement No. 003, the e-voting portal to deploy for the election would depend on the advice and report of the IT Consultant engaged for the election, upon analysing the existing NBA election platform.

Despite your warning to candidates for the various offices, it does appear as if your warning was observed in breach, as many of them have been on all media platforms practically campaigning and canvassing for votes, even when the ban had not been lifted.

How do you intend to assure that all candidates play by the rules? Do your rules and guidelines permit aspirants traversing the length and breadth of the country, visiting Branches to seek for votes? If not, what are your Committee’s plans to deal with this? What exactly do your rules permit for the canvassing for votes? After all, candidates must make themselves known to the electorate at large to share their manifestos and win them over.

The ECNBA has general powers to conduct the 2020 general elections of the NBA; those powers are however, subject to the NBA Constitution. It is in consequence of those powers, that we issued guidelines for the election. The ban for the campaigns has not been lifted, because there are no candidates for the elections yet. Assuming at this stage an aspirant embarks on a campaign spree and upon screening he or she is rightly disqualified from contesting the election, of what benefit would the campaign be? Come to think of it, and in all frankness, what is the campaign for the NBA election all about? Is it for vote buying or letting members know the candidate’s program for the Association and its members? If it is for the latter, paragraph 1.3(f) of the second schedule to the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended) has taken care of that, to the effect that candidates are to submit copies of their curriculum vitae, comprehensive manifestoes and other campaign materials to the ECNBA for publication on the NBA website. Besides, with a few inquiries from colleagues, members will be able to ascertain and determine the capability of any of the candidates.

The essence of the guidelines and constitutional limitations and prohibitions to campaigns, such as traversing and criss-crossing the entire length and breadth of the country for votes, is to discourage unnecessary spending of money with the attendant urge to recoup same upon being elected.

In terms of any breach of the guidelines or the constitutional provisions by the candidates, we are monitoring the activities of the prospective candidates and their supporters, and we shall not hesitate to impose appropriate sanctions for any violation. This also brings me back to the issue of accountability which I mentioned earlier, as an ingredient of a credible election which pertains to members’ rights to question the conduct of the stakeholders and the candidates for the election.

Some Aspirants have been accused of enticing young Lawyers with juicy monetary offers, by asking them for their account numbers to help pay their practicing fees and Branch dues. Does this not amount to inducement and election malpractice? How are you responding to such allegations?

Inducement or monetary offers to voters, is vote buying simpliciter. It is an anathema to the tenets of democracy, and portends grave damage to any society or organisation that encourages it, as it will scuttle the right to conscientiously call those elected through vote buying to account. In fact, it is inexcusable, both for the vote buyer and the vote seller.

Yes, asking for account numbers from some members for the payment of their Bar practicing fees and branch dues by aspirants or prospective candidates, especially during the election year, amounts to an inducement and election malpractice. However, those are general allegations which we cannot act upon, without proof or evidence of such allegations. That notwithstanding, if the Committee by whatsoever means and ways finds out that any aspirant or candidate indulges or indulged in such or any other malpractice, the full weight of the relevant constitutional provisions will be brought to bear on such aspirant or candidate.

What is your position on ethnic endorsement or adoption of Candidates, despite the fact that the election will be by universal suffrage?
In my humble opinion, there is a seeming difference between endorsement of a candidate and adoption of a candidate. Endorsement of a candidate, is the support or approval of a candidate by a person or group of persons. Adoption of a candidate, on the other hand, is the choice to make a candidate a group’s own candidate, i.e. the group of persons put forward the candidate as their own and only candidate.

Generally, endorsements and adoptions are integral to democracy. Adoption is usually an off shoot of consensus amongst the aspirants or candidates, and the group or platform the candidates seek to represent. It follows therefore, that in the absence of a consensus, adoption of a candidate by a group becomes more or less ineffectual, because other candidates may likely emerge in defiance of the adoption. Having said that, adoption on its own is not bad in a democracy, provided there is a consensus.

My take here is that, adoption arising from a consensus is good because it tends to reduce acrimony, rancour, as well as tension, and brings about collaboration, peace, synergy, unity of ideas and understanding, not only amongst the aspirants or candidates, but also amongst the electorates.

The interim list of voters just released by your Committee, is riddled with so many errors and omissions. Although there is said to be a window of opportunity to correct these errors, it has been revealed that many Branches claim that they don’t have the capacity to verify the list of their members who have paid Branch dues. This will undoubtedly affect the eligibility of many voters. What remedies are available to ensure that Lawyers are not unduly denied their right to vote?

It is not correct to say that the interim voters list released by my Committee is riddled with so many errors and omissions, especially when the interim list is considered with the accompanying ECNBA statement No.005 in view. The import of your statement on the purported errors and omissions, is that the errors were occasioned by the Committee, and that is far from the truth.

Paragraph 1.2(f) of the second schedule to the NBA Constitution predicated the eligibility to vote at the elections on the twin requirement of payment of Bar Practicing Fees and Branch Dues as at when due, which by the Constitution is the 31st day of March of the election year, in this case 2020. To compile the voters list, the Committee’s resource for the assignment is the Bar Practising Fees list from the National Secretariat of the NBA, since Bar Practicing Fees is paid to NBA National, while the Branch Dues list from the 125 branches of the NBA, since the Branch Dues are paid to the branches. Paragraph 1.3 (d) of the second schedule to the NBA Constitution stipulates that the full list of all legal practitioners qualified to vote shall be published by the ECNBA in conjunction with the National Secretariat of the NBA, at least 28 days before the date of the election.

Bearing in mind the said paragraph 1.3(d), the Committee asked the National Secretariat to request from the branches, the list of their members who have paid their branch dues. Based on our request, the General Secretary of the NBA early April 2020 requested for the said list from the branches, giving them about three weeks to do so. When the Committee realised that the response from the branches was very poor, it stepped in and made the request for branches to submit the said list of their members with proof of payment of branch dues not later than May 2nd, 2020.

The time was further extended to May 9th, 2020. Thereafter, the time for submission became open ended so to speak, just to accommodate all the branches. It was disheartening that as at May 29th, 2020, only about 36 out of 125 branches complied with the Committee’s request. From the list we got from the branches with proof of payment of branch dues matched with the Bar Practicing fees list from the NBA Secretariat, we could only compile a list with slightly below 10,000 names. The Committee had to fall back on the stamp and seal list of those who paid both their bar practicing fees and branch dues, and applied for the stamps. The rationale for the stamp and seal list is the assumption that to apply for stamp, the member must have paid both the bar practicing fees and branch dues. The stamp and seal list was obtained from the National Secretariat, bearing in mind the provisions of paragraph 1.3 (d) earlier mentioned. That was how we were able to get over 21,000 names, on the interim list.

The publication of the interim voters register was a strategy adopted by the Committee, to ensure the compilation of a credible voters register. It was a clarion call for the branch Chairmen to take responsibility, and for members to call out their branch Chairmen to do the needful, in order not to jeopardise their chances of voting in the election. I want to reiterate and reassure that, no Lawyer with proof of eligibility to vote will be excluded and/or disenfranchised howsoever, from the elections.

I call on all members and branch Chairmen to utilise the window of opportunity created by the publication of the interim voters register, to do the needful. I am happy with the response so far from the branches, and must say that the strategy is paying off.

How is the issue of Lawyers who were unable to pay their practicing fees before the deadline as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, being resolved?

The period and time of payment of Bar practicing fees as at when due is a constitutional issue, which to me requires a constitutional solution i.e. constitutional amendment. Aside, procrastination and the culture of last minute rush by most people, I am not exempt, to meet datelines can be detrimental sometimes. I want to believe that, that was what affected most of our colleagues who couldn’t pay their BPF before March 31st, 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic lockdown on March 25th, 2020, especially those in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun State. In any case, I do not rule out the fact that some junior colleagues may not have got the resources to do so before the lockdown.

What would you say are your biggest challenges in this crucial assignment, before and after the elections?
For now, my biggest challenge before the election is the compilation of an authentic and credible voters register for the 2020 general elections of the National Executives of the NBA, occasioned in the main by the initial lack of cooperation from most members and their branch Chairmen. To put a stop to the blame game, I was compelled to discuss and interact with some branch Chairmen via phone calls to ensure progress of the process, and the initial feedback was not encouraging. Some said members, have failed to produce evidence of branch dues payments and the like. But, I am happy to state that, most branches rose to the occasion, and the level of cooperation in that regard became remarkable. In any case, the Committee will not act contrary to the letters of the NBA Constitution.

On the issue of challenges after the election, we are yet to conduct the election, so I cannot at this stage know or speculate on what challenges await me after the election. I pray there are none. We will do what is right under the Constitution, and by the grace of God, we shall conduct a credible, free and fair election; and I want to add that, such cannot be achieved without the cooperation and support of our members and stakeholders. I urge our esteemed colleagues to own the electoral process by making inquiries and seeking for clarifications from the Committee, rather than get involved only by making derisive comments that will tend to distract on the electoral process.

Many are saying that the NBA needs to be overhauled; that it needs to refocus, to play the role of a true Bar Association. Do you agree? Going forward, what do you expect from the incoming NBA leadership?
Before you talk of overhauling or refocusing the NBA, you have to ascertain and examine the attributes of a Bar Association, of which the NBA is one. The Bar Association is meant to represent the interest of its members, promote their continuing education and training, as well as protect the professional integrity of the members. Beyond the interest of the members, the development of a strong, virile and independent Bar Association is central to democracy and human rights by protecting the rule of law, and providing a means and platform for citizens to assert their rights.

Agreed the NBA has to do more by championing the cause of justice, and defence of the rule of law. However, it has been increasingly difficult these days for the NBA to speak with one voice, because the Association is constituted by members with diverse interests, opinions and views. It is not a crime or misconduct to hold and express different views from that of the Association, considering the guaranteed freedom of expression by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), provided such views do not run counter to the Constitution of the Association, or ethics of the profession. And that has always been the constraint of the NBA.

I want to see a strong and virile NBA that will stand on the side of justice, the rule of law, and the rights of the citizens; as such NBA should get involved, and engage more in public interest matters. And, as legal practitioners who are members of the NBA, if we engage more in ensuring the sustenance of justice, rule of law and all that will be beneficial to the generality of the populace, it will invariably impact on the NBA as a Bar Association that all will be proud of.
Thank you, for having me express my humble views.

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One of the aspirants for the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Elections has told CITY LAWYER that he did not contest his disqualification by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) for “personal reasons.”

According to Mr. Echika Ejido, immediate past Provost of the factional NBA Abuja Branch, though he filed to contest for the post of Assistant Publicity Secretary, he did not appeal the decision of the electoral committee which cut short his political ambition.

The ECNBA had granted “provisional clearance” to 24 aspirants while disqualifying 19 others. The disqualified aspirants had till 4 pm yesterday to appeal the ECNBA decisions.

He is perhaps the second aspirant that has resigned himself to fate, even as Nigerian Bar Association, NBA Katsina Branch, Mr. Abdulgaffar Alhaji Ahmed may have also decided to tow the same line.

In an interview with CITY LAWYER, Ejido said: “I submitted form for the post of Assistant Publicity Secretary. I was disqualified on the basis that the two years at Branch EXCO is counted in days, and nominations closed on 29th May, 2020 while my two years tenure as Branch EXCO member ended 2 weeks later on June 11. So, I don’t have the required two years branch EXCO qualifying requirement.”

Arguing that his disqualification “is contestable,” Ejido said: “I won’t challenge my disqualification. I have decided not to contest same for personal reasons.”

Quite popular especially in Abuja Bar circles, Ejido sensationally left the Ezenwa Anumnu-led faction of the branch to pitch tent with the rival Abimbola Kayode faction.

Ahmed had also indicated he may have resigned himself to fate, following his disqualification. An aspirant to the post of Second Vice President, Ahmed had while reacting to his disqualification by the ECNBA said: “I thank all my supporters near and far. Thank you so much for being here. This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked for, and I’m sorry we did not make it to the election race for the values we share and the vision we hold for our beloved bar.”

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The gale of endorsements pervading the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Elections has turn apart a tier-one law firm, with leading Partners going their separate ways in pitching tent with the presidential aspirants.

Aspirants for the election are being endorsed by high-profile Bar leaders in order to better position themselves to clinch coveted positions at the polls.

While Mr. Ebun Sofunde SAN, one of the oldest surviving senior advocates, has thrown his weight behind Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN, his Partner in the top law firm, Mr. Muhammad Dele Belgore SAN has gone in the opposite direction, endorsing the candidature of Mr. Olumide Akpata. Both are Partners in the top law firm of Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe & Belgore.

Giving reasons for his endorsement, Sofunde said: “In these trying times for the Bar and Bench, I see Dr. AJIBADE, SAN, as a person who will do his utmost to restore pride and dignity to the Bar and Bench by ensuring that such virtues as (a) integrity, (b) diligence and (c) merit, are enthroned at all times.

“I see him also as a person who will fight for the welfare of the Bar and Bench and promote a smooth relationship between the Bar and Bench.”

Apparently disagreeing with the judgement of his Founding Partner, Belgore said: “The relevance of the NBA must be to its members, the consumers of legal services, the profession and society at large, in that order of priority. How members cope in this fast-changing world of technology, cross-border trade, increasing local challenges, external threats from estate agents, accountants, foreign lawyers and the like, disproportionate growth of the profession in the face of dwindling opportunities and income, are matters of grave concern to all of us. And they are obviously of greater concern to our younger colleagues, who as it happens, are the majority of the Bar.

“Consequently, the task of leadership right now must be on how to equip the majority with knowledge driven capacity and drive policies that will enable every lawyer to favourably compete against these challenges. This should be the central focus of our choice for leadership – a look to the future.

“The biggest folly of a candidate in any election is a focus on who is he as opposed to what he is offering. For a long time, the Bar has talked down at junior colleagues, its majority, and not to them. Successive leaderships have served up what they believe is good for them as opposed to engaging them in that determination. Even at this time with elections looming, it seems to me that only one candidate is effectively engaging its majority and talking about the real issues. That candidate is Olumide Akpata and for this reason he gets my vote and endorsement.”

In a frontal attack on the notion that only senior advocates should aspire for the presidency of the Bar, Belgore said: “Finally, I should ask where is it written that the privilege of leading the NBA is the exclusive preserve of Senior Advocates of Nigeria? That ‘exclusivity’ is untenable, undeserved and un-egalitarian.”

The divergent positions of the leading senior advocates have set tongues wagging in legal circles. Some watchers of NBA politics however believe it would have been anathema for Sofunde to have endorsed a non-senior advocate, especially as he is one of the leading lights of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), an entity he has occasionally led as acting Chairman. His endorsement may however go beyond his BOSAN commitments, as he is also listed alongside Mr. Tunde Busari SAN as Ajibade’s nominator.

There is an unwritten understanding among many senior advocates that a non-SAN should not superintend the affairs of the Bar. However, some senior advocates have broken ranks with BOSAN by endorsing Akpata.

Sofunde, regarded as highly cerebral and often taciturn, is listed as the 61st lawyer to be conferred with the coveted rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, having been conferred with the rank on May 3, 1988. On his part, Belgore, who has flirted with politics in his failed bids to become the governor of Kwara State, took silk on September 10, 2001.

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Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch Chairman, Mr Adesina Ogunlana has vowed to challenge his disqualification to participate in the forthcoming presidential election of the association. The Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) had listed Ogunlana among those disqualified from the race. It gave no reasons.

However, Ogunlana in a “preliminary response” posted on his verified Facebook channel and cited by CITY LAWYER gave absence of Letter of Good Standing as the reason for his disqualification. He blamed outgoing NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman, Mr. Dele Oloke for his travails, warning that he would fight the disqualification.

The full text of his response reads:


Dear Colleagues, Friends and Supporters ,
Good morning, All. May I respectfully inform that I have this day , -3 June 2020, at about 6 10 am, become aware of a mail from the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association ( ECNBA) stating my disqualification from participating in the election for the office of the President of our great Association .

The ECNBA gave a singular reason – absence of LETTER OF GOOD STANDING(LOGS) from my Branch Chairman . ECNBA also stated my right to appeal their verdict within 7 days of receipt of their mail. We thank ECNBA
May I further state that I shall APPEAL the verdict . Let me assure every one that my dues for 2018, 2019 and 2020 were duly and fully paid as at when due as stipulated in the Constitution of the Association and which automatically thus entitles me to the LOGS.

The absence of the LOGS was not due to any fault of mine but to the malicious act of the incumbent but now out going BRANCH CHAIRMAN of the NBA IKEJA BRANCH, Dele Oloke , Esq . Of course , the poisoned antecedents of Oloke as a factional leader of the IKEJA BAR and who eventually lost out to me in the extremely intense intra-Bar leadership struggle of 2016-2017 is well known .


May I use this medium to appeal to all our supporters not to be dismayed but to remain not only calm but cheerful . Always trusting in the Faithfulness and Mercies of God and the consistently triumphant forces of GOOD over EVIL I declare to you today , WE SHALL OVERCOME .

13 JUNE 2020

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* Mixed reactions, as errors mar project
* ‘We are in the dark on website contract,’ say EXCO Members

There is palpable anxiety over the current state of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) database as uploaded on the NBA website. While some members have their data correctly inputted, prominent Bar Leaders such as former NBA President, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN); former NBA presidential candidate and Chairman of the Council of Legal Education (CLE), Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN) and Mrs. Funmi Falana, wife of fiery human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) are among those whose data have errors. The trio are listed as members of NBA Obollo-Afor Branch. Continue Reading


The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Officers Election has been scheduled to hold in July. Given the controversies that have beset previous NBA elections, several stakeholders have been engaging in initiatives aimed to ensure that this year’s exercise is free, fair and credible.

At a recent round-table organized by “The Legal Torchbearers” online forum to which CITY LAWYER was invited and in which many key stakeholders – including some presidential aspirants – participated actively, a leading consultant, auditor and investigator in Digital Forensic & Open Source Intelligence, Dr. Dominic Ehiwe spoke on the potential challenges facing the NBA elections and how to surmount them.

In 2006, Ehiwe received an upper honours degree in Economics (majoring in Statistics) from Federal University of Abuja. He was at the University of Duisburg-Essen for the Enterprise Resource Planning (SAP) programme, and was in 2014 awarded the Master of Science (MSc) in Computing (with Commendation) by the Birmingham City University, England. Ehiwe’s academic pursuits climaxed in 2019 with the award of a doctoral degree in Management Information Systems by the Babcock University. He is currently pursuing an Advanced Diploma in Forensic Accounting & Criminal Intelligence (FACI). He holds several licences and certifications in forensics.

Below are excerpts from the roundtable.

QUESTION: Is there any difference between internet voting and electronic voting?

ANSWER: Internet voting is same as electronic voting or e-voting.

QUESTION: What are the benefits of online voting over manual voting?

ANSWER: Online voting, generally called e-voting, is good and can be efficient where the integrity of the process and the information systems used for the exercise is guaranteed. E-voting can deliver the following results: Ensure that everyone eligible to vote can vote from any location; remove deliberate human tampering of voting ballot papers to favour a particular candidate or outcome; ensure no manual process is involved in the collation and processing of results, and cut cost by ensuring only relevant stakeholders take part in the process.

By integrity of the process, I mean ensuring that there are rules for participation in the exercise and the rules are followed. It also means having a process to verify and validate all eligible votes. There are ways by which this can be enforced. Integrity of the process also relates to ensuring that the computing infrastructure used for the exercise are secured and cannot be hacked, records falsified and multiple voting restricted.

QUESTION: Is there a system of voting that cannot be hacked?
ANSWER: Not really. All systems can be hacked as long as it involves computing infrastructure and use of internet. E-voting results are stored on computer systems called servers. These are hackable. However, the hack can be investigated and traced.

QUESTION: What are the features of the system that you will recommend to an association of lawyers with strength of about 60,000 to 70,000?

ANSWER: There are several that can be used. Judging anyone as being best is a matter of need. The key to achieving desired result is to ensure the system and process meet the guidelines set. These are the requirements, as organizers, you ensure the service provider meets.

For an association like yours, I would recommend that the voting system can provide the following: (1) Ensure that voting multiple times from a single device or computer is restricted – that means the system must be able to recognize every device that has been utilized; There must be a unique way of verifying every vote. (2) As members to vote, the question is besides email addresses and phone numbers, what is the unique feature by which each member can be identified. The e-voting system must ensure this is utilized for verifying and validating the votes. (3) The system should cater for multiple levels of authorization; by this, I mean checks and balance. No single individual must be able to complete a process end-to-end without higher authority verifying what was done. (4) Recording, collating and processing of results must be done without human interference. Aside from hacking of the system taking place, enforcing the above at a minimum should guarantee that the process is credible.

QUESTION: How does an association determine the above security features? Does it mean it must as a matter of course engage a forensic expert to determine what it needs for the e-voting?

ANSWER: My recommendation is to have an expert be part of the process in defining the security features. These security features must be what the service provider can deliver as part of the process.

QUESTION: Are there any particular risks for allowing voting to run for more than two days, especially as some eligible voters were allegedly disenfranchised during the last exercise?

ANSWER: E-voting allows voting from anywhere but there must be a set timeline. Once this elapses, the system should not recognise the vote. It is a good security measure to do this.

QUESTION: Must all electronic voting system be internet based?

ANSWER: Yes, electronic voting is internet based. It is dependent on internet infrastructure. However, one can explore other digital means that can let people vote offline without being connected to the internet. The question is, are there service providers to render this service? There might be and that will be great but the security must be enforced as described above.

QUESTION: What is the possibility of configuring the electronic voting system to enable the collation of votes on branch-by-branch basis instead of centrally?

ANSWER: This should be possible. The service provider should be able to do the necessary configurations as per your requirements.

QUESTION: How do election managers ensure that anonymity of votes does not imperil the electoral process?

ANSWER: Anonymity can be removed where the system only accounts for votes that have been verified. Recall I mentioned having that unique thing that identifies everyone eligible to vote. Using email and phone numbers may not be sufficient to prevent anonymity of votes.

Another way to prevent anonymity is having the system restrict voting more than once from a single device. All devices have what is known as MAC address. This must be logged and captured for every vote. This key information can be used as part of the auditing process to ensure detection of violations.

QUESTION: In our environment, not many are ICT savvy. Many depend on other members and their ICT devices to vote. If the server recognizes only one vote from a device, will it not block the device from being used by multiple voters? How can the election portal determine that the subsequent votes are not fraudulent?

ANSWER: To further address determining fraudulent votes, if the system allows people to vote multiple times from a single device, then it must ensure that the uniqueness of each vote is enforced. That brings me back to the point of what uniquely verify and validate each person eligible to vote.

This security measure is desired to avoid multiple voting by a single individual. Voting need not be restricted to computer systems only. E-voting requires internet connectivity, and all our smart phones have this capability. It is desired to ensure the exercise is credible. It’s a recommendation, too.

QUESTION: Is it correct that when an online procedure is set up for an election, such system needs to be cross checked/audited by an expert to ensure that system is in an optimal state for a free and fair election?

ANSWER: Yes, you are right. The system is expected to be test run and certified to have met set requirements.

QUESTION: What is the technical possibility of auditing 10,000 e-votes within 24 hours?

ANSWER: It is achievable so long as the process to enforce this is defined and maintained.

QUESTION: An area of concern is verifying the identity of each voter. We know that there is an existing NBA Membership Platform; how do we mitigate against individuals using the Supreme Court number of, for example, deceased lawyers? It is not inconceivable that someone can take-over the identity of a dead Lawyer, pay his/her BPF and Branch Dues, and subsequently participate in the voting process. I am of the opinion that we should use any of the government issued identity cards to verify current members of the NBA on the membership platform; that way, it will become practically impossible to steal the identity of any lawyer dead or alive.

ANSWER: You are right. Thankfully, there are unique means of identity that can be used for validating members eligible to vote. Determine which one is suitable, have a database of those records for future verification where the need arises.

QUESTION: Electronic voting that requires fingerprint may disenfranchise lawyers without limbs. How can this be mitigated?

ANSWER: The requirements are for you to decide as an association. If the use of physical features will lead to anyone being disenfranchised, then it is not a good enough means to use. Also, e-voting should not require people being physically present to vote. Voting should be from anywhere using my device. The system should handle the rest.

QUESTION: Everyone is harping on the ‘integrity of the process’ while discussing e-voting. What does integrity of the process entail in full dimension?

ANSWER: Integrity of the process means ensuring the systems are secure and that only verified and eligible people vote

QUESTION: What processes will you suggest for an effective pre- and post-election auditing of the votes?

ANSWER: As an association, there should be a register of members eligible to participate. This database of people eligible to vote can be utilized to validate the number who voted. This is a pre- and post-election exercise. I like to believe this register existS for each branch or location. If yes, this can be used to validate votes per location or chapter as the need may be.

QUESTION: Investigating hacking takes place after the conclusion of the process. How does the election manager prevent hacking from happening during the voting process?

ANSWER: Investigation takes time and efforts and is a post-election exercise. To avoid hacking, ensure the security features of the system are defined, agreed and provided. Also, recall I mentioned the system should have been test run before the real exercise. By doing this, any shortcomings would have been identified and possibly fixed before the exercise.

QUESTION: Multiple voting, falsification of records and hacking are acts perpetrated by human beings, not the system or tools. Kindly expound on this.

ANSWER: Hacking is interfering with the system that has the voting records. Data can be manipulated or deleted or damaged. These are hack activities done by humans – which can be investigated where it occurs.

QUESTION: Computer is garbage-in garbage-out; it is what is programmed that it processes. Is it not possible that it could be programmed candidate?

ANSWER: Yes, it is garbage-in, garbage-out. That is why there should be a test run. Also, recall the multiple levels of authorization I mentioned earlier.

QUESTION: Is secret voting attainable in e-voting?

ANSWER: Ensuring the secrecy of votes is a requirement that the service provider should be able to provide.

QUESTION: The Electoral Committee plans to conduct verification and voting on the platform at the same time. Does this pose any challenge logistically or to the credibility of the process?

ANSWER: No, it should not. The platform should be able to verify and allow people to vote at same time. The key is ensuring verification is efficient as defined. This is the most important requirement.

QUESTION: One of the requirements set by the Electoral Committee for IT Consultants is “Verification and confirmation of votes cast at the end of voting.” How do you reconcile this with manual interference and the need to avoid delay in releasing the result?

ANSWER: It depends on what the manual interference is required for. The system in use should be capable to do the collection, processing and reporting of results. All these should be configurable and work as designed on the application.

QUESTION: What level of access should be given especially to the key candidates on Election Day to reassure them on the integrity of the voting exercise?

ANSWER: Limited access. This should be on a need-to-have basis. Their representatives, I believe, should be able to represent them as required.

QUESTION: Will it infringe the intellectual property of the consultant if candidates bring experts to assess the efficiency of the programming?

ANSWER: I do not think it does. As there are different stakeholders with varied interest, it should help the process having experts on ground to validate that there is no rigging by any stakeholder.

QUESTION: In an ideal situation, how long before the actual voting should the list of eligible voters have been compiled, verified and certified to be accurate?

ANSWER: This, I believe, should depend on the committee organizing the exercise to decide. The key is to have the records compiled and certified okay for the exercise and validation where required. So timelines should vary based on a number of factors.

QUESTION: What are the options that could be considered for use as the unique identifier. Would a voter’s BVN be an option?

ANSWER: As per options, BVN can be used though this is not 100% guaranteed. NIN can be used also. The key is to correlate these means of identification with details of eligible voters. This should be part of the database that should be maintained.

QUESTION: It is instructive that once results are declared, it may be difficult to overturn them. As a result, all the protocols to secure the integrity of the process must necessarily be done before and during the election, not after. What are these key protocols and to what extent should especially key candidates be involved in that process to reassure all stakeholders?

ANSWER: The grounds for overturning of results should be what has been defined and agreed. There are many. First is to confirm if any of the rules were violated. Second, how many people were eligible to vote, say per chapter? How many people voted? If the records were manipulated, how did this occur, etc? Plenty of loopholes, depending on the scenario.

QUESTION: Should a post-election audit be mandatory before release of results? Is the audit something that can be achieved in 24 hours or less? What level of transparency should the audit entail?

ANSWER: Yes, audit should be before release of results. Audit duration will depend on what it entails but there should be timeline set. Transparency should be total and verifiable to all concerned. However, recall my suggestion on the need-to-know basis.

QUESTION: Would you agree that what is needed is for prospective voters to submit their bio-data details which can be run against any of the government issued identity cards and if this does not “check,” then such a person will not be allowed into system. It will be better that they are not allowed in at that point rather than letting them in first and then verifying their ID at a later date. That could be very risky.

ANSWER: This speaks to the verification process. Verification can be before voting or during voting depending on how the system is set up for the exercise. If done during voting, then the system should ensure the unique identifier constraint rule cannot be violated. For example, if the rule is to identify people with NIN, then anyone else trying to vote with different email or phone number or any other bio-data detail but already used NIN will not be allowed because the NIN has been earlier verified and utilized.
Thankfully, there are unique means of identity that can be used for validating members eligible to vote. Determine which one is suitable, have a database of those records for future verification where the need arise.

QUESTION: Is it possible to avoid the method of allowing someone to vote on your behalf or by proxy even if they are Control Room staff and they have your details? How does the election manager avoid identity theft?

ANSWER: Rather than use codes for elections, verify using unique identifier and records of participants eligible to vote.

QUESTION: What steps can be put in place to ensure that the information of verified voters from the various branches will not be tampered with? We have heard of instances where such information have been altered during the process of transmission to the Service Provider(s). What fail-safe measures can you recommend to stop an Operator who is intent on manipulating the process from the get go?

ANSWER: In forensics, there is a method to validate information. We can validate the integrity of the records generated before it is shared for upload. If it changes by anything as little as a single character, we can determine the change and hence know the record was manipulated.

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Foremost litigator and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (OFR, MFR, SAN) has stated that a key requirement for a rancour-free 2020 NBA Elections is “real time monitoring of votes.”

In an exclusive interview with CITY LAWYER, Gadzama, the first presidential candidate to drag NBA to court to challenge the outcome of its national election conducted by electronic voting, also warned that all “principal actors” in the electioneering process must eschew throwing up a preferred information technology specialist to midwife the election.

Giving in insight into the character of the newly appointed Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA), Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo (SAN), Gadzama stated that lawyers in the Abuja axis especially view him “as a man of integrity,” adding however that he “hopes” Tawo would sustain the rating.

His words: “There should be a mechanism to allow real-time monitoring of votes during the voting exercise.”

On the selection of an information technology specialist to partner with the ECNBA to deliver the elections, the leading arbitrator said: “This is a crucial time in the legal profession as we prepare to elect National Officers who will pilot the affairs of the association for the next two years. Any IT company to be engaged must be competent and reputable. Requisite due diligence must be conducted on any prospective IT company before engagement. It must be a company that has no real interest in who emerges as winners of the election other than a reflection of the wishes of the majority of members of the Bar.

“In engagement of an IT company, mechanisms should be put in place to ensure, as much as practicable, that the Principal Actors here do not have any affiliation, interest in or influence over the IT company. I am aware that the ECNBA has issued a request for proposal for IT consultancy. Bearing in mind the above considerations and the pre-qualification requirements in the issued RfP, if strictly adhered to, it should result to the engagement of a competent IT company.”

Speaking on growing concerns that a preferred bidder may be chosen as an IT Specialist for the elections, Gadzama said all efforts should be made to dispel such claim. His words: “You will recall that the outcome of the 2016 and 2018 NBA elections were challenged in Court and as an association, we must do everything reasonably and humanly possible to ensure that the 2020 election is conducted in a transparent manner acceptable to the majority, if not all. This process of course includes the selection of an IT company for the election. Any legitimate concern by stakeholders about the process must be taken seriously and adequately addressed. Remember that confidence and trust are key here.

“As pointed out earlier, there should be clear yardsticks and objective basis for selection of an IT company for this process and all Candidates (particularly presidential candidates) should be carried along. With the considerations already highlighted, I believe that the concerns of stakeholders can be adequately addressed. No system is perfect but once appropriate checks and balances are put in place, these concerns will be sufficiently, if not completely, addressed.”

Gadzama also weighed in on the controversy surrounding participation of NBA staff in the elections. Asked the extent to which the staff should be involved in the elections, Gadzama said: “No doubt, the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended in 2019) vests the responsibility of conducting National Officers Elections on the ECNBA. Particularly, Paragraph 2.3 (c) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution makes it the duty and responsibility of the Electoral Officers to control, conduct and manage the elections. Also see paragraph 2.1 (a) of the Second Schedule.

“However, there is still some level of involvement of the National Secretariat which, of course, is manned by NBA Staff. For example, paragraph 2.1 (c) of the Second Schedule to the Constitution provides that completed forms received in respect of elections into national offices shall be forwarded to the National Secretariat and thereafter referred to the Electoral Committee. In further demonstration of possible roles of the National Secretariat in the process, I also refer to Paragraph 2.3 (d) of the Second Schedule which gives the National Secretariat the responsibility, in conjunction with the ECNBA, to publish the full list of all legal practitioners qualified to vote.

He adds: “The NBA Secretariat is manned by NBA Staff and, as highlighted above, there are certain roles and activities to be performed by the Secretariat in the process. Because NBA Staff are also human and may have personal interest in the outcome of the election, it is advisable that their participation in the process should be limited and/or restricted to assuage the genuine fears of those who may have cause to worry that they may be used to manipulate and/or confer undue advantage on any candidate.”

Given that he took the unprecedented step of challenging the 2016 presidential election in court, CITY LAWYER asked the popular Bar Leader to plot a roadmap to a rancour-free 2020 National Officers Elections. Gadzama advised that aside from availing all candidates a level-playing field, the ECNBA must eschew arbitrary disqualification of aspirants. Also, voter registration and verification must be transparent while the candidates must be given access to interrogate the electoral process.

His words: “The need for an acceptable NBA election cannot be over-emphasized. The outcome must reflect the choice of the majority of members. The ECNBA must ensure a level-playing field for all candidates.

“In the past, there have been genuine complaints against unjustifiable disqualification of aspirants for elections. A National Publicity Secretary in the previous administration had to challenge his disqualification in Court which gave judgment in his favour. These sorts of things should be avoided. The process of screening of aspirants should be transparent in line with the provisions of the Constitution and no aspirant should be victimised and/or unjustly disqualified.

“All candidates must also be treated equally by the ECNBA. It should be a fair contest. No candidate should be given undue advantage whether knowingly and unknowingly. The candidates must be allowed to investigate and interrogate every step of the election process without interfering with the work of the Committee.

“It is important that the guidelines to be issued by the ECNBA as required by paragraph 2.4(c) of the Second Schedule should be in line with the provisions of the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended in 2019). The need for the principle of universal suffrage as enshrined in the Constitution to be upheld and given effect cannot be over-emphasized. Universal Suffrage to my mind in this context is the right of all eligible members of NBA to freely vote for candidates of their choice without let or hindrance. Paragraph 2.2(f) of the Second Schedule to the Constitution is also instructive here. Thus, all foreseeable obstacles and/or impediments capable of disenfranchising any member should be contemplated, addressed and eliminated in advance in order to ensure a smooth and acceptable process. There should be a mechanism to allow real-time monitoring of votes during the voting exercise.”

He adds: “Another important area which will be covered in the guidelines is the voter registration process. Voter registration is a pre-condition for voting in the election as stipulated in paragraph 2.2(f) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution. Thus, the registration process should be seamless and transparent. We should be able to have an accurate and verifiable number of registered voters at different levels at the end of the process. Also germane here is that the verification of votes intended in paragraph 2.8 of the Second Schedule should indeed reflect a verifiable process capable of ascertaining the authenticity of any collated votes.”

Though there have been concerns on whether the ECNBA will maintain sufficient independence from the NBA leadership, Gadzama however said its chairman is well regarded by the legal community in Abuja where he practices.

His words: “I want to commend the ECNBA for the good work the Committee is already doing. I have seen the preliminary notice of election dated 15/04/20 already issued by the ECNBA. I am confident that the Committee under the able leadership of Tawo Tawo, SAN will do a good job that we will all be proud of as an association. Tawo is already known to many of us here in Abuja as a man of integrity but this is an opportunity for those who do not know him to review our assessment of him as well as judge his personality. I hope, pray and wish that he sustains the accolade we have given him.”

Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN was declared winner of the presidential election in the NBA National Officers Elections conducted via electronic voting. He polled 3,055 votes while Gadzama garnered 2,384 votes. But Gadzama rejected the results, stating that the election was fraught with irregularities.

A statement by Mr. Garba Gajam and Mr. Steve Abar, Director General and Secretary respectively of the Gadzama Campaign Organisation, said: “Having reviewed the situation and circumstances before and during the elections, to wit: the non-credibility of the elections; the lack of transparency; the non-automatic collation of the results on the display screen; the open partisanship of Mr. Austin Alegeh, SAN (who worked with the ECNBA) for the declared winner; and the delay for over one hour and 20 minutes before releasing the results after the close of polls at 12 midnight on Sunday, July 31, 2016, all these in total disregard for the concerns we had hitherto raised in our previous correspondence with the ECNBA, we hereby, reject the results of the elections and call for the immediate cancellation of same for failing to be credible, transparent, free and fair, and for failing to comply with the provisions of the NBA constitution and the Electoral Guidelines. We also call for the conduct of fresh electronic, not Internet, elections that will be credible, free and fair and in compliance with the provisions of the NBA constitution and the Electoral Guidelines.”

Gadzama was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in 1986 and the Bar of England and Wales (Lincoln’s Inn) in 2008. He took Silk in 1998 – being the first among his 1986 set – and was the Chairman of the National Working Group on Domestication of the Rome Statute in Nigeria. A leading arbitrator and member of several domestic, regional and international arbitral centres, Gadzama has participated as presiding arbitrator, party nominated arbitrator, sole arbitrator and lead counsel in several landmark commercial arbitration matters.

He was Chairman of NBA Abuja Branch and pioneer Chairman of the NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL). A chartered arbitrator, Gadzama is a fellow of several institutes, including the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC).

Please send emails to Copyright 2018 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 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.


Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN is obviously one of the most important stakeholders in Nigerian Bar circles today. In fact, it is believed that the fate of Africa’s largest Bar association may depend on what he does or fails to do in the coming weeks leading up to the 2020 National Officers Elections of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). Continue Reading