INTERNET VOTING VIOLATES NBA CONSTITUTION, SAYS GADZAMA

  • SEEKS INCLUSION OF YOUNG LAWYERS IN STANDING COMMITTEES

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN has warned that a reform of the association’s electoral process has become “urgent,” adding that the NBA Constitution does not envisage internet voting as currently used for past NBA elections.

In a memorandum to the NBA Constitution Review Committee, Gadzama argued that “It is my humble but firm personal view that the electronic voting envisaged in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Constitution is voting without the use of internet. Indeed, the universal suffrage stipulated by NBA Constitution is a welcome development and can be achieved transparently with strict adherence to electronic voting.”

According to the leading litigator and arbitrator, “Electronic voting will entail voting at all the branches of the NBA at their respective election centers and in the presence of the agents of the various candidates, through the use of dedicated computers or electronic voting machines for members to cast their votes. Upon casting of votes, there could be a paper backup to enhance the accountability, transparency and auditability of the election. Significantly, all these are not obtainable with internet voting. This electronic system has been adopted and used in the past by the NBA Abuja branch for its branch elections.”

Gadzama noted that current NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata “expressed initial concerns over the 2020 electoral process shortly before the election,” adding that “Mr. Dele Adesina, SAN who was a Presidential contestant at the said election rejected the outcome of the election which rejection almost tore the Bar apart but for the intervention of eminent members of our noble profession.”

Below is the full text of the memorandum.

MEMORANDUM TO THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION (NBA) CONSTITUTION REVIEW COMMITTEE

BY

JOE-KYARI GADZAMA, OFR, MFR, SAN, FNIALS, FICMC, FCIArb, Chartered Arbitrator.
Chairman, Mentorship Committee of the Body of Benchers
Formerly: Pioneer Chairman, NBA – SPIDEL; Vice Chairman, NBA – SLP; Council Member, NBA – SBL & Chairman, NBA Abuja Branch.

1.0 INTRODUCTION:

1.1 This memorandum is in response to the call by the NBA Constitution Review Committee for submission of memoranda on further amendments to the provisions of the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended). As a major stakeholder in the process, having contested the 2016 NBA National Officers’ election, this memorandum is my modest contribution to this genuine reform process. In the light of the foregoing; I hereby recommend some Constitutional amendments and other proposed reforms outlined hereunder for consideration by the Committee in line with your terms of reference.

2.0 YOUNG LAWYERS’ REPRESENTATION AT NEC:

2.1 It is my view that young lawyers ought to have constitutional representatives at the NEC meetings in order for them to feel a sense of responsibility and belonging in this noble profession and for them to realize that their interests are being protected. Section 7 (1) only provides for National Officers, All past Presidents and General secretaries, all chairmen and secretaries or registered branches, one other representative of each branch, chairmen and secretaries of sections and other deserving members of the Association which include Senior Advocates of Nigeria, senior members who are over 25 years post-call and special interest groups/active members who are over 10 years post-call.

2.2 It is my humble recommendation that the affairs of young lawyers can be statutorily represented at the NEC meetings by amendment of Section 7 (1) by the introduction of a new Section 7 (1) (f) to specifically list at least the Chairman of Young Lawyers’ Forum as statutory member of NEC. The current 7 (1) (f) can now be the new Section 7 (1) (g).

3.0 YOUNG LAWYERS’ MEMBERSHIPS AT STANDING COMMITTEES

3.1 By the interpretation of Section 12 (3) (b) under the membership of standing committees and Section 10 (10) of the third schedule of the Constitution, it states that the Chairman of each committee shall be a member of not less than 10 years post-call while the Secretary shall be a member of not less than 5 years post-call. There is no explicit involvement of young lawyers in the make-up and representation of the members in the standing committees.

3.2 It is my view that Young Lawyers can be statutorily represented in these committees by drafting them in various committees and thereby making sure that they are actively involved in the affairs of the NBA. Therefore there can be new Sections 12 (3) (c) & Section 10 (10) (c) of the third schedule of the Constitution which explicitly mention the involvement/representation of young lawyers from 0- 7 years post call in various standing committees. The current Sections 12 (3) (d) can now be 12 (3) (e) and Section 10 (10) (f) of the third schedule of the Constitution be changed to Section 10 (10) (g).

4.0 VOTING METHOD UNDER THE NBA CONSTITUTION:

4.1 It is my humble but firm personal view that the electronic voting envisaged in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Constitution is voting without the use of internet. Indeed, the universal suffrage stipulated by NBA Constitution is a welcome development and can be achieved transparently with strict adherence to electronic voting. This view is fortified by the express provision of section 9(4) of the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution which states thus:

“Section 9(4) – Election into National Offices shall be by universal suffrage and electronic voting as set out in Second Schedule.”(Emphasis ours)
Paragraph 2.4(a) of the said Second Schedule of the NBA Constitution provides that;
“Voting at the election shall be by electronic means (E-voting).”(Emphasis mine)

4.2 The true intention of the Constitution, I humbly submit, for conduct of elections electronically without the use of the internet can further be discerned from paragraph 2.4 (c) of the second schedule which provides for verification of voters, place, time and platform to be utilized for electronic voting for each particular election year taking into consideration the state of available technology and information technology infrastructure of the branches in order to afford all registered voters the opportunity to vote.

4.3 Voting over the internet has proven to be non-transparent and problematic which has led to the challenge in Court of the outcome of the 2016 and 2018 NBA elections conducted using internet voting. The system of voting over the internet is highly susceptible to manipulations and experience has also shown that genuine cases of disenfranchisement of eligible voters keep recurring. Recall that the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, expressed initial concerns over the 2020 electoral process shortly before the election while Mr. Dele Adesina, SAN who was a Presidential contestant at the said election rejected the outcome of the election which rejection almost tore the Bar apart but for the intervention of eminent members of our noble profession. This dissatisfaction was a result of some of the inevitable challenges associated with internet voting.

4.4 As stated earlier, the electronic voting envisaged under the NBA Constitution is different from internet voting which was used to conduct the 2016, 2018 and 2020 NBA National Officers’ election as a result of the misinterpretation of the relevant sections. Internet by definition is a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols. Electronic, on the other hand, can be said to be a device having or operating with components such as microchips and transistors that control and direct electric currents.

4.5 It is clear that while internet voting requires the use of electronics, electronic voting does not require the use of internet. I-voting (which has been used over time by NBA at the National level) relies totally on the use of the internet, whereas E-voting, envisaged under the NBA Constitution, does not require the internet. E-voting envisages a situation where all the branches of the NBA at their respective election centers and in the presence of the monitoring agents of the various candidates, will use dedicated computers or electronic voting machines to cast their votes.

4.6 Electronic voting will entail voting at all the branches of the NBA at their respective election centers and in the presence of the agents of the various candidates, through the use of dedicated computers or electronic voting machines for members to cast their votes. Upon casting of votes, there could be a paper backup to enhance the accountability, transparency and auditability of the election. Significantly, all these are not obtainable with internet voting. This electronic system has been adopted and used in the past by the NBA Abuja branch for its branch elections.

5.0 POSSIBLE AMENDMENT OF NBA CONSTITUTION:

5.1 Although it is my interpretation that the NBA Constitution envisages electronic voting (without use of internet), we can still continue with internet voting considering that it is more convenient and in line with the global trend. For these reasons, I will also be inclined towards internet voting provided that the vote of each voter is revealed instantly to show who the voter casts his ballot for. After all, we are all members of the same professional family of lawyers. Indeed, this will make the system more transparent and any result that it produces will be generally acceptable by the majority. In that case, it would be ideal to amend section 9(4) of the NBA Constitution and paragraph 2.4 of the schedule to eliminate any ambiguity and to bring it in line with the adopted electronic voting system.

6.0 OPEN BALLOT SYSTEM:

6.1 As stated earlier, if internet voting is to be adopted for future elections which appears to be the preference due to convenience and the fact that it is in line with the global trend, it will therefore be my strong recommendation that there should be full real-time disclosure of the names of voters and who they cast their votes for. This is akin to the Option A4 voting system in conventional elections. Display of the votes as they are being cast, showing the choice of voters, will indeed enhance accountability and transparency of the process.

6.2 I understand that some persons may prefer that their votes remain anonymous, if this is the position adopted by the NBA, then the choice of the voters may be kept hidden whilst the real-time tally is revealed to everyone. Furthermore, there should be a hidden trail to show who a voter opted for which would only be revealed in the instance of a dispute as to the result or credibility of the election.

7.0 EARLY SET-UP OF ELECTORAL COMMITTEE:

7.1 The responsibility of conducting the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Officers’ election rests squarely with the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA). It is my fervent recommendation that this important committee should be set up early enough to begin preparations for the election in every election year in good time. Since the deadline for payment of Bar Practicing Fees is end of March in every given year, we should consider setting up the ECNBA in April so that they can commence work in good time and possibly release guidelines in May of the election year. This will go a long way in ensuring that adequate preparations are made in advance for every NBA elections.

8.0 INVOLVEMENT OF SITTING NBA PRESIDENT IN THE PROCESS:

8.1 Another issue that has to be addressed frontally is the involvement of the sitting NBA President and indeed the sitting NBA EXCO in the election process which sometimes confers an undue advantage on any candidate ‘anointed’ by the incumbent NBA President. In 2016, the then incumbent President was openly partisan and he engaged in open campaigns and endorsements of my opponent at that time and these contributed to the absence of a level playing field for all candidates in that election. Another worrisome trend is the appointment of all ECNBA Chairmen from the zone of the sitting President. In 2016, Mr. Ken Mozia, SAN who is from the same zone with the then sitting President – Mr. Augustine Alegeh, SAN was the ECNBA Chairman. In 2018, Prof. Auwalu Yadudu was the ECNBA Chairman and was from the same zone as the then NBA President, Mr. A. B. Mahmoud, SAN. In 2020, Mr. Tawo Tawo, SAN from the same zone with the then NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN, was appointed as the ECNBA Chairman. No doubt, all three former NBA Presidents did their best to uplift the Bar during their tenure and all the ECNBA Chairmen appointed during their respective regimes are respectable and reputable senior members of the Bar, but that is not the issue. The issue here is the perception of the majority of members of the Bar. Could this be a coincidence or a deliberate ploy, as assumed by many, to ensure that only those supposedly very close to the NBA President are appointed as ECNBA Chairman? I believe that deliberate efforts should be made to discourage a pattern whereby only someone from the same zone with the sitting NBA President is appointed as ECNBA Chairman. No doubt, this will go a long way in building confidence in the process. By all means, the ECNBA should be able to maintain sufficient independence from the NBA leadership, particularly the President.

9.0 REAL TIME MONITORING OF VOTES & AUTOMATIC COLLATION OF RESULTS

9.1 The votes as they are being cast should be displayed real time in a transparent manner accessible to all members of the Association. Collation of votes should also be automatic after the last ballot is cast unlike what we had in 2016 when there was a delay of over one hour and twenty minutes before releasing the results on the display screen after the close of polls at 12 midnight on Sunday, 31st July 2016.

10.0 DUE PROCESS FOR ENGAGEMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SERVICE PROVIDER

10.1 For future elections, there should be clear yardsticks, objective basis and/or set parameters for engagement of any IT service provider that will provide any IT infrastructure and/or support for the NBA elections. Mechanisms must be put in place to ensure that only qualified, experienced and competent IT Companies without interest in the outcome of the election are engaged. Due diligence must be conducted on any prospective IT Company before engagement. As I stated earlier in an interview, it should 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. Importantly, the selection and/or appointment of IT Company should not be done or influenced by the NBA President; rather it should be done independently by the ECNBA with the active involvement of the candidates (especially the Presidential candidates). Candidates should also be allowed to audit the infrastructures of the IT Company before it deploys its facilities.

11.0 SEAMLESS VOTER REGISTRATION PROCESS

11.1 Voter registration is an integral aspect of any election. It is a pre-condition for voting in NBA election as stipulated in paragraph 2.2(f) of the second schedule to the NBA Constitution. The NBA electoral process should be configured in such a way that all eligible voters, who have paid their Bar Practicing Fees (BPF) by 31st March of every given year, are allowed and given the opportunity to vote seamlessly for candidates of their choice. The list of financially up-to-date members should be automatically collated and made public shortly after the deadline for payment of BPF. In the past, there have been genuine and verified complaints of the inability of some of our eligible members to register for the voting process. To my mind, the registration process should be stress-free and transparent without any impediments.

11.2 Another pre-condition for voting in the NBA election as stipulated in paragraph 2.3 (d) of the second schedule to the NBA Constitution is that the full list of all legal practitioners qualified to vote shall be published at least 28 days before the date of the election. This provision can be reviewed and the time frame changed to at least 60 days to enable those whose names may have been inadvertently left out of the register to have ample time for same to be rectified. This would solve the issue of eligible voters claiming that they have been disenfranchised. It would be ideal to create a longer time between publication of the names and the date of the election given what had transpired in the past elections.

12.0 INVOLVEMENT OF NBA SECRETARIAT IN THE PROCESS

12.1 The NBA Constitution currently vests the responsibility of conducting National Officers’ elections on the ECNBA. However, there is still some level of involvement of the NBA National Secretariat in the process and since the secretariat is also manned by NBA Staff (some of whom are lawyers), the issue of partisanship cannot be overruled. See paragraph 2.3 (d) of the second schedule to the Constitution which gives the National Secretariat the responsibility, in conjunction with the ECNBA, to publish the full list of all eligible legal practitioners. This committee should consider a mechanism or system that will result in reduced involvement of the NBA Secretariat in the system. Currently, paragraph 2.1 (d) of the second schedule to the NBA Constitution provides that completed forms received in respect of the elections shall be forwarded to the NBA Secretariat and thereafter referred to the Electoral Committee. To reduce and/or check any possible interference by the NBA Secretariat, it is desirable to amend the referenced provision to constitutionally allow completed forms to be submitted directly to the ECNBA. Furthermore, the feasibility of the ECNBA liaising directly with the NBA Branches for data should also be looked into. In conclusion, there must be a level playing field in any NBA elections and all candidates must be given access to interrogate every stage of the electoral process. It should be a fair contest.

13.0 CONCLUSION
13.1 The urgent need for the reform of the NBA electoral system cannot be overemphasized. It is indeed a collective responsibility of all of us to meaningfully & timely contribute to this electoral reform process in our little way. It is my fervent hope, genuine desire and humble prayer that these proposals will be duly considered in the overall interest of the entire Bar and towards minimizing the spate of disputes arising from future NBA elections so that together we can earn our deserved respect in the eyes of Nigerian politicians and Nigerians generally.

Thank you.
Dated 19th April, 2021.

MEMO_GADZAMA

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NBA PRESIDENCY: AJIBADE JOINS THE RACE

  • THROWS SPANNER IN THE WORKS

Leading corporate lawyer, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade has joined the race to succeed Mr. Paul Usoro SAN as Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

The entry of the cerebral lawyer into the already crowded field has thrown spanner in the works, as many consider him a serious contender for the coveted seat. In fact, asked what Ajibade’s chances are to clinch the sought-after seat, a former NBA chieftain told CITY LAWYER that Ajibade is a “potential NBA President.”

Though seemingly a late entrant into the presidential race given that some of the aspirants have been making discreet moves for several months now to push their ambitions, CITY LAWYER gathered at the weekend that Ajibade is not leaving anything to chance in his quest to win the NBA Presidency.

A source close to the NBA Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL) Advisor told CITY LAWYER that Ajibade has commenced aggressive consultations to intimate especially Bar Leaders on his ambition. Although a familiar face in the continuing legal education circuit where he is routinely engaged as a facilitator, there are strong indications that the recently concluded International Bar Association (IBA) conference in Seoul, South Korea may have offered Ajibade a platform to sell his candidacy.

To put the matter of his quest beyond debate, CITY LAWYER gathered from unimpeachable sources that the highly successful corporate lawyer has started telephoning and visiting key Bar Leaders to formally intimate them on his ambition. At least two Bar Leaders confirmed to CITY LAWYER that Ajibade spoke to them on his desire to lead the Bar while a former NBA chieftain said that Ajibade contacted him through a proxy.

In line with the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended), the next NBA President will emerge from the South West Zone comprising. According to Article 2.2(b) of the Second Schedule to the amended NBA Constitution dealing with ‘Election of National Officers,’ “The positions of the President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, 3rd Vice President and General Secretary shall rotate among the three zones. In determining the eligibility of a candidate to contest for any of the rotated offices, regard shall be had to a candidate’s Geographical Zone of origin and not the geographical Zone where he/she carries on legal practice.” On the other hand, Article 2.2(e)(iii) lists the States under “Western Zone” as Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo.

Other aspirants who have been touted for the post of NBA President are another leading and successful corporate lawyer, Mr. Olumide Akpata; former presidential candidate and NBA General Secretary, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN and another erstwhile NBA General Secretary, Mr. Olumuyiwa Akinboro SAN.

Ajibade’s entry into the race has substantially altered the political dynamics for the NBA Presidency race. Aside from being a hugely successful corporate lawyer, Ajibade, like Akpata, is also from NBA Lagos Branch which has always had the largest bloc of votes in NBA elections. Though some question his credentials as a “Bar-man,” many view him as highly cerebral, self-effacing and not having any integrity deficit.

Several Bar Leaders who responded to CITY LAWYER enquiries on his candidacy stated that he is not only eminently qualified for the position but must be seen as a serious contender, adding that other aspirants would ignore him at their own political peril.

While Akpata was before now seen as perhaps the ‘anointed candidate’ of NBA House, impeccable sources told CITY LAWYER that his campaign may have suffered some reversals lately. CITY LAWYER reliably gathered that there is a major schism in Akpata’s camp, with speculations that a major power broker and backer may be having a serious rethink on his support for the highly successful corporate lawyer, immediate past Chairman of the NBA-SBL and Co-Chair of the recently concluded NBA Annual General Conference (AGC). Unless the rift which a source close to the power broker described as having “far reaching consequences” is resolved prior to the opening of ballot, it may eclipse a major support base for Akpata.

Like Alegeh, he is also from Edo State. This is seen as perhaps his biggest hurdle. What is more, Article 2.2(d) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution provides that “Where a position is zoned to any particular geographical zone, the position shall be rotated and held in turn by the different groups and/or sections in the geographical zone.” Akpata is seen as having the brightest chance to wrestle the NBA Presidency from the rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria who have dominated the post for a long time. A similar potent quest by fiery former NBA General Secretary, Mr. Afam Osigwe was aborted midstream, as he was disqualified by the electoral body. He however blames his ‘political detractors’ for his fate.

Bar watchers told CITY LAWYER at the weekend that unless both Ajibade and Akpata are able to reach an understanding before the elections, they are bound to split their key support base – NBA Lagos Branch – down the middle. Usoro is a member of the branch. Ajibade’s emergence on the scene may have put him in a quandary, even as speculations are rife on whether the NBA President is privy to his quest.

Ajibade’s emergence has also seemingly torpedoed several permutations. A source close to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), Lagos Zone Chairman told CITY LAWYER thus: “You will know that he would not have resolved to run for NBA Presidency without the support of past and present Bar Leaders.”

Some analysts however argue that his entry into the race has only given additional boost to Akpata’s quest, adding that the Bar is set for a repeat of the 2014 NBA presidential race when three core South West candidates ran against former NBA President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN. With the three candidates – Mrs. Funke Adekoya SAN, Chief Adeniyi Akintola SAN and Mr. Dele Adesina SAN – splitting the South West votes, Alegeh coasted to victory with a total of 691 votes. His runner-up, Adesina, SAN polled 370 votes, Adekoya garnered 255 votes, Akintola received 126 votes while Osas Erhabor brought the rear with 17 votes. The three core South West candidates polled 751 votes, 60 votes more than Alegeh’s.

Some analysts also argue that Ajibade is not a ‘Bar-man,’ adding that his candidacy is not materially different from Akpata’s since they are both successful commercial lawyers from the “Corporate Bloc” of the NBA. But his camp disagrees, saying that his litany of services to the Bar is there for all to see.

The advent of Alegeh has led to a string of successive NBA Presidents emerging from the corporate bloc or ‘big law firms.’ Feelers by CITY LAWYER at the weekend indicate that the face-off between the ‘corporate’ and ‘Bar-men’ blocs will continue and intensify in the forthcoming elections, as the ‘Bar-men’ are desperate to wrest power from their heavy spending corporate counterparts.

A veteran of sorts in the NBA Presidency race, Adesina has his major support base in Ikeja Branch where he held several posts. Ditto for Akinboro who is also a czar of sorts in the Abuja Bar circles. Both are seen as no push-overs in the forthcoming NBA Elections, though some Bar watchers contend that there are a few chinks in their armours which would become apparent as the campaigns heat up.

Ajibade is touted as a go-to lawyer by several international rating agencies including Who is Who Legal, Chambers Global and IFLR 1000. According to a biography by Who is Who Legal, Ajibade is the Managing Partner of SPA Ajibade & Co, a leading corporate and commercial law firm with offices in Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja, Nigeria.

“Babatunde is a dispute resolution specialist and has substantial expertise in international commercial arbitration, especially in the fields of company law, energy law, labour law, hospitality law and investment treaty law. He has acted as counsel in arbitration proceedings involving complicated shareholder disputes arising from alleged breaches of restrictive pre-emptive rights and damages claims arising from alleged breaches of hotel development and management contracts. He has also conducted several ad hoc references and is currently coordinating an investment treaty arbitration claim against a host state. Babatunde also sits as an arbitrator and is currently presiding as sole arbitrator in an international commercial arbitration with its seat in Lagos involving alleged breaches of the terms of an international executive employment contract and as a co-arbitrator in a complicated energy dispute involving crude oil handling, also with its seat in Lagos.

“Babatunde also has extensive experience in all aspects of corporate and commercial litigation. He has prosecuted and defended numerous claims relating to corporate disputes acting on the instructions of shareholders, directors or their companies. He has also prosecuted and defended several claims on behalf of and against banks and insurance companies. He has a firm grasp of the commercial issues involved in such litigation.

“Babatunde also has extensive experience in transactional corporate and commercial legal practice and has been involved in the formation, maintenance and regulation of all types of business entities in Nigeria. He has been involved in the Nigerian capital market as a solicitor in several public offers of securities and in mergers and acquisitions and was the pioneer secretary, vice chairman and is a past chairman of the Capital Market Solicitors Association. He was vice chairman of the rules and regulations sub-committee of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s capital markets committee, a member of council and vice chairman of the banking, finance and insolvency sub-committee of the Nigerian Bar Association’s section on business law.

“Babatunde is a vice president of the ICC Arbitration Commission’s steering committee, a member of the ICC’s Africa Commission, a director of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce International Arbitration Centre (LACIAC), a member of the LCIA’s African Users Council, a member of the Lagos Court of Arbitration and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) Nigeria branch.

“Babatunde was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1989. He obtained a LLM degree in corporate and commercial law in 1990 and a PhD in private international law in 1996, both from King’s College London. He was elevated to the rank of senior advocate of Nigeria in December 2007. He was awarded the International Practice Fellowship of the International Bar Association in Madrid in October 2009 and he became a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators UK in January 2015.”

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NBA ELECTIONS: EFCC GRILLS MAHMOUD, YADUDU TODAY

The last may not have been heard on the controversial Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Elections as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will today grill former NBA President, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN and Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) Chairman, Prof. Auwalu Yadudu on their roles in the elections. Also to answer queries from a battery of EFCC operatives is ECNBA Secretary, Mr. Bolaji Agoro.

According to an impeccable source who is familiar with the investigation, though the EFCC operatives had earlier scheduled to interview the trio before now, they had requested that the interviews be done in Abuja.

“EFCC turned down the request,” the source told CITY LAWYER. “Instead, it opted to reschedule the interviews to Friday, 24th January, 2019.”

CITY LAWYER also gathered that the anti-graft agency has invited over 50 other lawyers from several NBA branches to its office in its bid to unravel allegations of rigging and sundry infractions during the elections. The investigation is being conducted by EFCC’s Cybercrime Unit.

It is recalled that the EFCC had barely a month after the elections requested a certified true copy of the list of eligible voters for the poll from CHAMS Plc, one of the ICT firms that conducted the elections.

In a letter to the ICT company dated 10th September, 2018 with reference number CR:3000/EFCC/LS/STF/STF3NBA/VOL.7/382, the EFCC stated: “This commission is investigating a case of conspiracy and Cyber Crime in respect of the above-mentioned election featured.”

Signed by its Zonal Head, Mr. Akaninyene Ezima and titled “Investigation activities, Re: 2018 Nigeria Bar Association elections,” EFCC stated that the request was made pursuant to Section 38(1) of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 and Section 21 of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended.

In the letter to the managing director of CHAMS Plc, the anti-graft agency further stated: “In view of the above, you are requested to avail us with certified true copy of the list of all eligible voters to include but not limited to Name(s), Phone Number(s), Email Address(es), Branch(es) and Voters ID.

“Any other information that may assist the Commission in its investigation.”

Mr. Paul Usoro SAN was declared elected as NBA President by the ECNBA. Usoro polled 4, 509 votes to beat Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN who scored 4, 423 votes while Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN) polled 3, 313 votes. Both Obi Okafor and Ojukwu rejected the results, alleging that irregularities marred the elections.

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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 www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.