AKPATA WINS: AJIBADE, ALEGEH, YLF, EBF, MID-WEST FORUM HAIL HIM

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

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.”

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

EDITORIAL: NBA ELECTIONS 2020 – WHY WE MUST GET IT RIGHT

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.

ELECTORAL C’TE RELEASES VOTING GUIDELINES

The eagerly awaited guidelines for tomorrow’s elections have now been released by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA).

Setting out the voting protocols in its ECNBA STATEMENT NO 017, the electoral committee assured that voters would receive a certificate after voting.

Below is the text of the statement:

GUIDELINES FOR ELECTRONIC VOTING

  1. Ballot shall open at 11:00 PM on Wednesday 29th July, 2020 and end at 11:00 PM on Thursday 30th July, 2020 (24 hours).
  2. Every voter shall receive an Email and/or SMS notification for the declaration of the opening of polls to all eligible voters on the day of the election
  3. Every voter is expected to click on the personalized voting link provided via the received Email and/or SMS notification;
  4. The voter would then enter his/her Supreme Court Number beginning with “SCN…” after which the voter would click on the “authenticate” button to proceed;
  5. The voter would proceed by viewing the list of available positions and candidates and selecting his/her choice of candidate or abstain from voting. A voter must make a choice at this stage;
  6. The voter would either verify his/her choice made by submitting the ballot or change his/her choice by editing the ballot before submission.
  7. Upon submission, the voter will receive a ballot submission verification code on the device screen as well as his/her registered email.
  8. The voter should keep the verification code safe for audit purposes.

Dated this 28th day of July 2020

Tawo E. Tawo, SAN

Chairman

EXCLUSIVE: CONCERNS MOUNT ON VOTING PLATFORM FOR NBA ELECTION

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

‘NO CAUSE FOR ALARM,’ SAYS ECNBA

There are strong indications that the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) is making frantic efforts to fortify the NBA Election Portal and deploy it for the election now shifted to commence tomorrow evening.

The electoral committee had in its latest statement moved the election from midnight today to 11 pm tomorrow, even as it gave no reason for the shift which is coming barely a few hours to the earlier commencement schedule.

But CITY LAWYER reliably gathered that the shift may not be unconnected with strong indications that the electoral committee is yet to conclude a clean-up of the voters’ list. The ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Tawo SAN had told a stakeholders’ meeting yesterday that the clean-up would be concluded by midnight, while a final list of verified voters was expected to be published today by the electoral committee. A source who is familiar with the process however told CITY LAWYER that the clean-up is still ongoing and may not be concluded until tomorrow. The committee had stated that over 30,000 eligible voters participated in the verification exercise.

CITY LAWYER also gathered that the electoral committee may have insisted on deploying the controversial NBA Election Platform delivered to it by the current administration for the election, even as it is making efforts to plug the gaps on the portal.

However, the ECNBA told CITY LAWYER today that there is no cause for worry, adding that the technology to be deployed for the election would be “seamless.” 

According to a source who is familiar with the process, “They (ECNBA) are still updating the NBA platform up until now. The database of the election collation is now being hosted on another IP. They will only make that one active on the day of the election.”

Continuing, the source said: “The only option they have is implement a third party election collation system like VOTE NOW api, then use it within the NBA portal environment. I believe they are integrating to use a third party collation system within the platform. That is using a system like VOTE NOW but within the NBA or another IP as they know this present one is closely monitored.”

But ECNBA Secretary Cordelia Eke told CITY LAWYER that some of the stakeholders “assumed we were going to use the NBA Election portal.” She however said that the electoral committee “wants the best” and would abide by the advice of its IT Consultants. 

According to the ECNBA scribe, “We have done test runs. The platform we will use tomorrow will be endorsed by our IT Consultants. It is to be noted that the number of eligible voters for the election is a critical factor in deciding on the voting portal. This is the highest number of eligible voters so far when compared with the two previous elections. But rest assured that the process will be seamless. We all have our integrity and we will want to complete this assignment with our integrity intact. We will deploy the best platform for the election.”

Continuing, she said the “silence” on the part of the committee was to ensure the security of the process, adding that some mischief makers were bound to attempt to truncate the process “whichever platform you use.”

She assured that voters will receive a certificate after voting aside from an audit of the entire election, adding that the committee is making extra efforts to clean up the voters’ list and ensure that no eligible voter is disenfranchised. Her words: “Be assured that the voters’ list would be published before the voting exercise.”

It is recalled that some candidates have raised concerns on the reliability of the voting portal, even as the electoral committee refused yesterday to confirm whether the election will be hosted on the NBA Election portal as speculated. The Dele Adesina SAN (DASAN) Group had queried the electoral process, saying: “We are yet to receive any information from the ECNBA regarding the Service Provider who would conduct and manage the electoral process in respect of accreditation, voting, computation of votes, and declaration of results.”

The group also queried compilation of the voters’ list, saying that “the Voters List for Abuja and Lagos Branches, as typical examples, are tainted by severe irregularities which are yet to be addressed, even though official petitions have been written to the ECNBA.”

A technical report by consultants hired by another presidential candidate, Mr. Olu Akpata was more damning on the integrity of the voting portal. In a petition to ECNBA, Akpata stated that “Even more distressing is the fact that the NBA portal on which the verification exercise is being conducted appears not to be secure and can be easily manipulated.”

The report by the ICT experts stated that “we carried out a vulnerability assessment of the web platform with IP 130.61.106.164 and came up with the following deductions: That the NBA Portal is built on Drupal 8, an Open Source Content Management Software. The platform is a template edited for the NBA; That the NBA portal has a vulnerability severity rating between 4 – 7 based on discovered vulnerability exposures.”

The report noted 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.”

The experts recommended the following remedial measures:
* A Unique Customized Secure Platform Built Specifically For The NBA: An organization with such repute and standard as the Nigerian Bar Association requires a unique software architecture and security framework used to build a customized web portal for all its services.
* Remediation of Security Vulnerabilities: This refers to the process by which vulnerabilities identified are resolved and further threats to the platform is prevented.
* Constant Vulnerability Assessment: There should be a set standard procedure for running assessment and penetration test constantly to keep the platform updated in line with global security standards and its defence capable of deterring any such cyber-attacks.

But in a searing reposte, the electoral committee lampooned Akpata for the petition, accusing him of gaining “unauthorized access” to the NBA portal. Said Tawo: “The committee therefore deprecates in strong terms the various attempts by individuals who in an attempt to force the hand of the ECNBA, some of who are members of the profession, to gain unauthorized access to the NBA website and going further to publish a report showing perceived weaknesses of the site to the world. This action is so sad to say, not expected of gentlemen of our noble profession.”

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

NBA ELECTION’LL BE TRANSPARENT, INCLUSIVE, FREE AND FAIR – TAWO TAWO

At today’s meeting of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) with candidates and other stakeholders, ECNBA Chairman, MR. TAWO TAWO SAN in his welcome address assures all that the committee is leaving no stone unturned to deliver free and credible polls 

ECNBA UPDATE ON THE NBA NATIONAL OFFICERS ELECTIONS 2020 PRESENTED AT THE STAKEHOLDERS INTERACTIVE SESSION HELD ON THE 27TH OF JULY 2020

PREAMBLE
The ECNBA welcomes you all to this interactive session to update Bar leaders, Candidates and Voters of the current state of affairs towards preparation for the NBA National Officers Elections. We had hoped that this session would take place earlier in the electoral process but the global health emergency response by Government compelled a change of the course of activities initially outlined by the Committee to accord with extant regulations on the pandemic and yet accord with the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution 2015(as amended). We do however consider it necessary at this stage of the electoral process, to hold this session albeit remotely, due to the prevailing conditions, to enable us rub minds with stakeholders in the process towards ensuring that we all have a National election that we can be proud of as Lawyers and as an Association.

COMMENCEMENT OF DUTIES
The ECNBA was appointed by the NBA NEC and inaugurated by the NBA President of the 12th day of March 2020 pursuant to the provisions of the NBA Constitution which prescribes for the appointment of the Committee at the first NEC meeting of an election year. The Committee was given the task of conducting the NBA National Officers election within four (4) months. This was at a time when the COVID19 pandemic had just broken out in the Country. Undeterred, the Committee was set to commence work immediately, even if working remotely, knowing that time was of the essence. The effect of the pandemic however significantly slowed down responses and affected schedules and timelines.

COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES
From the time of inauguration of the Committee till date, the ECNBA has carried several activities and has kept members informed through its several releases in ECNBA Statements Nos.1-15.

It is noteworthy that in the course of its activities, the ECNBA has constantly updated members via Statements and publications in total of fifteen (15) as at date. We would however like to specifically address some areas perceived to be of concern to members and Candidates in the election.

THE ELIGIBLE VOTERS REGISTER

The importance of a credible voters list to the NBA 2020 elections cannot be over emphasized. The Nigerian Bar Association Constitution 2015 (as amended) in Paragraph 1.3 (d) Second schedule stipulates that the register of eligible voters is to be compiled by the ECNBA in conjunction with the Nigerian Bar Association. As such the said task is not one that could be done without recourse or input from the NBA or its Staff. In furtherance of this provision, while engaging with the National Secretariat, the ECNBA also engaged with Branch Chairmen to supply lists of members that had met the Constitutional criteria for eligibility to vote, being payment of Branch Dues as at 31st March of 2020. The National Secretariat was also requested to produce the list of members who had paid their Bar Practice Fees as at March 31st 2020. This task suffered some delays due to the fact that the NBA National Secretariat and some Branches of the NBA were closed and not fully operational due to the Government lockdown in Abuja and other parts of the country, making it difficult to access some necessary documentation for the exercise. It would also be recalled that Access Bank was not fully operational at this time and needed time to supply the data on payments of BPF. Eventually, the National Secretariat succeeded in producing the comprehensive data on the BPF payments, but the lists from the NBA Branches were however more challenging to gather as shown in the several statements already published by the ECNBA to that effect.

The challenges to the exercise ranged from but were not limited to: lack of Bank statements showing payment of dues by members, failure of members to submit their payment details to their Branches for compilation, incomplete membership information and documentation from Branches, inaccurate lists submitted by some Branches, amongst others. The general impact of the lockdown across the country is also acknowledged as a major factor that affected the exercise.

In combating these challenges, the ECNBA had to device creative solutions, to sort through the various lists and payment details submitted in order to sieve those persons truly eligible to vote in compliance with the provisions of the NBA Constitution.

It must at this stage be clarified that due to complaints by members in respect of lists submitted by their Branches and the desire to ensure that no eligible Voter is disenfranchised, the ECNBA gave an opportunity to members whose names may have been omitted or had errors, to submit same directly to the Committee with proof of payment of their Branch dues and Bar Practice fees for compilation in the voters register. It is noteworthy that these activities had deadlines assigned to them because the Committee was also bound by timelines imposed by the NBA Constitution, which still remains effective in the face of the COVID19 pandemic. While some colleagues responded to the publications and extensions given within the time stipulated, some failed to do so and only awoke much later (after expiration of the deadlines) to demand that their names be included on the final Voters list. However, there must be an end to that exercise and as such the final list of names had to be published in accordance with the NBA Constitution.

VOTERS VERIFICATION EXERCISE
By the ECNBA Statement No. 008, the Committee called on eligible voters to ensure they verified their details on the NBA website preparatory to voting in the elections. The importance of the Exercise cannot be overemphasized as it is not only a form of accreditation for eligible Voters, but also a source of authentic data about members supplied by the Voters themselves. It also ensures that Voters have access to their portal in the event that the site would be used for the voting exercise. The verification exercise for voters has now ended by 6PM on Sunday 26th July 2020. We can confirm from records of the exercise available to us now, that over 30,000 Voters on the published Voters have now verified their details.

ELECTION PLATFORM AND IT CONSULTANT

Security and integrity of the voting platform for the NBA national officers election 2020 is of paramount importance to the ECNBA. The authenticity and security of votes cast at the elections are issues that have not been taken lightly. A lot of work has gone into ensuring that all but only legitimate votes count at the elections. It would be recalled that in the ECNBA Statement No.006, the Committee outlined its efforts at engaging an IT expert to work with the ECNBA in the determination of the proper platform to be used for voting and also the modalities for the electronic voting. We can confirm that further to our Request for Proposals, applications were received from several IT firms, which went through various stages of screening and interviews and at the end, a firm which was adjudged to have the requisite experience and expertise and competence in such matters was engaged to work with the ECNBA on this project. At the time of engagement of the Consultant, the ECNBA had not taken any decision as to the platform to be used for the elections as mentioned in our Statement No. 006 and were open to exploring all viable options, inclusive of the newly developed election portal of the Nigerian Bar Association. We had intimated that the decision as to what platform would be used for the elections would be based on the recommendations of the technical experts, in this case our engaged IT Consultants, not foreclosing recommendations from other experts. The Committee therefore deprecates in strong terms the various attempt by individuals, who in an attempt to force the hand of the ECNBA some of whom are members of the profession, to gain unauthorized access to the NBA website and going further to publish a report showing perceived weaknesses of the site to the world. This action is sad to say, not expected of gentlemen of the legal profession.

The ECNBA is confident of the competence of our OT Consultants who are to advise us on the technical aspects of the electoral process and will abide by their professional recommendations.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, and as we count down to the elections, the ECNBA wishes to express its gratitude to members of the Bar for their patience with the ECNBA, our Bar leaders for their constant advise and contributions and the National Secretariat for cooperation thus far in this process. Needless to say that we all are stakeholders in this process and must continue to work together to ensure a smooth transition process in our association for the benefit of us all. On its part the ECNBA will continue to keep its promise of doing its very best to conduct a transparent, inclusive, free and fair 2020 polls. We therefore urge you to keep an open mind on issues and make constructive contributions that will engender progress and promote the general good of our dear Association.

Thank you and God bless you.

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

ECNBA MEETS CANDIDATES, KEEPS MUM ON VOTING PORTAL, OTHERS

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

* BAYO OJO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES, OTHERS SPEAK
* OVER 30,000 VOTERS TO ELECT NEXT NBA PRESIDENT
* ECNBA BLASTS AKPATA FOR ‘OPEN LETTER’ 
* AKPATA REPLIES ECNBA, INSISTS NBA PORTAL IS ‘VULNERABLE’
* ECNBA WARNS CANDIDATES AGAINST ELECTION ‘HELP DESKS’

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) today held a virtual meeting with candidates in the forthcoming NBA Elections and other stakeholders, assuring that the poll will be free, fair and credible.

Tagged “Online interactive session with all Candidates in the NBA National Officers Election 2020, Bar leaders, and Stakeholders,” the meeting was monitored by CITY LAWYER and attended by the three presidential candidates among others, even as some candidates shunned the parley.

In a 12-minute opening speech, ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Tawo SAN went down memory lane, recalling how the electoral committee conducted the compilation of voters list and the verification exercise. He stated that the committee chose the election portal in line with operational recommendations of its Information Technology Consultant, adding that the process will ensure that “all but only legitimate votes count” and that it is a “national election we can be proud of.”

Tawo thanked Bar Leaders and NBA staff for their cooperation, even as he singled out NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro for commendation for giving the committee a free hand to conduct the election.

On the choice of IT Consultant for the election, Tawo stated that at the end of the committee’s screening exercise, “a firm which was adjudged to have the requisite experience and expertise and competent in such matters was engaged to work with ECNBA on this project as our consultants. At the time of the engagement of the consultant, the ECNBA had not taken any decision as to the platform to be used for the election, as mentioned in our statement No. 006.”

Indicting one of the presidential candidates, Mr. Olumide Akpata for what he termed “unauthorized access” to the NBA website, the electoral committee chairman said: “The committee therefore deprecates in strong terms the various attempts by individuals who in an attempt to force the hand of the ECNBA, some of who are members of the profession, to gain unauthorized access to the NBA website and going further to publish a report showing perceived weaknesses of the site to the world. This action is so sad to say, not expected of gentlemen of our noble profession.” He stated that the committee is confident of its IT Consultants and their expert advice on the technical aspects of the election.

In his remarks, former NBA President, Chief Bayo Ojo SAN warned all stakeholders that “we are in this together,” noting that having criticized the government on electoral misfeasance, “now is the time to show how to do it and do it well.” He urged the electoral committee to ensure that the election is “free, fair and credible,” adding that the candidates must exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship, as only one person can win the race.

Following several questions from some candidates, Mr. Alozie Echeonwu was invited by the electoral committee chairman to throw more light on some aspects of the election.

Said Echeonwu: “The chairman did not say that the election will be on the NBA website. The chairman has not disclosed the election protocol. The platform upon which this election will be run is considered a sensitive election item. The protocol will be released to everyone whose name is on the voters’ list and who has properly done his verification. The protocol is a do-it-yourself form of protocol and everybody’s unique credentials will be delivered to him. Each credential is unique to each voter and under no circumstance should these credentials be shared with any other person.

He assured that “the architecture for the election is reliable,” adding that the ECNBA is the “only umpire” for the election and that the consultant “is not conducting the election. We take responsibility for the election.”

He stated that there would be proper voter education directed to eligible voters, emphasizing that the voting platform is “very secure; very secure. You can go to sleep. The architecture is such that you may be given access to monitor the election wherever you are; and after the elections, there will be a post-election audit. A post-election audit will expose everything for anybody who is minded to do further study on it to please go ahead.”

Stating that each voter would be availed proof of his voting, Echeonwu said: “The architecture is automated. Everybody voting can verify; in fact, when you vote, you get a certificate. Each voter will receive a certificate as to the activities he carried on. You can self-audit the process.” He assured that eligible voters will receive their credentials, voter education and details of the protocols “in good time.”

Addressing the thorny issue of voters’ list, Tawo said though the committee had published the “final voters’ list,” the ECNBA had stated that the list “was being cleaned because of the duplications. We expect to publish the clean list after the outstanding verifications, the backlog has been cleared tonight. So, that will be done.”

In his remarks, Akpata noted that he sent in over 12 questions to the electoral committee, adding that “the issue of transparent and credible election lies at the heart of every election, and it must be seen and felt by all participating in the process.”

Responding to the allegation of unauthorized access to the NBA website, Akpata said: “Obviously, that reference was to me. Mr. Chairman, access to the portal is open to all. Maybe that’s the point some of us are making. It is free to all to study. As you know, Mr. Chairman, this is the first meeting we are holding with ECNBA in this entire process – two days to the election. So, we have not had information. The only information we have had is that the portal – in fact, the infographics released (shows) that is where the election will be held. Some of us (are) concerned about that website, that portal and the fact that it appears vulnerable. And we asked experts, please advise.”

He stated that he was aware the website was not developed by the electoral committee, adding that he was “not ascribing blame to anyone. We are saying, ‘Let’s be careful because this portal may be vulnerable.”

Noting that “We are all stakeholders and the cost of silence is too high,” Akpata queried: “Can it (voting portal) withstand multiple concurrences for about 40,000 voters?” He also expressed worry that “there’s little information out there.”

While Echeonwu stated that the NBA website was “for verification,” ECNBA Secretary Cordelia Eke asserted that “I do not believe the ECNBA at any time said election will be conducted on website.” But Akpata insisted that the infographics state otherwise.

Continuing, Echeonwu said: “Let me make it absolutely clear that the protocol for the election has not been released by ECNBA. Someone had alluded that ECNBA released the election protocol. Please consider it an unhealthy and malicious circulation. When ECNBA releases its protocol it will come directly to you and everybody will know.
“We are working with a timeline. We have assured you it is a seamless process. It is a do-it-yourself process. You don’t need to contact any help desk other than the ECNBA Help Desk to help you. You don’t need to set up any Help Desk; you will be crossing the boundaries if you do that. We would consider that crossing the boundary.”

One of the presidential candidates, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN expressed worry that the electoral committee barred campaigns via travels and the electronic media, noting that eligible voters need “information dissemination to make informed decision.”

Responding, a member of the committee, Prof. Augustine Agom stated that the electoral committee’s guidelines were informed by the NBA Constitution. He added: “The election is going to be free; it is going to be fair. It is going to be credible. You can take this to the bank.”

On his part, another presidential candidate, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN commended the committee for “operating under unusual circumstances,” a veiled reference to the coronavirus pandemic. He however sought clarification on when the election protocols would be made available to the candidates as well as the modalities for deploying election agents in the ECNBA Situation Room.

Responding, the ECNBA Chairman promised that “We will communicate (this) to candidates in the shortest possible time.”

Aside from the presidential candidates, others that attended the virtual meeting are Messrs Adebayo Akinlade, Sulayman Adamu, Kazeem Adeyemo and Alex Muoka. Others are Joyce Oduah, Okey Ohagba, Christopher Yakemewerigha, Anne Agi, Uche Nwadialo, Sabastine Anyia, Kunle Edun and Olayinka Sokoya.

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

ECNBA SET TO ROLL OUT VOTING GUIDELINES, MEET CANDIDATES

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• BARS ELECTION DEBATE PLATFORMS
• EXTENDS VERIFICATION DEADLINE
• MAY VARY VOTING FRAMEWORK
• WARNS CANDIDATES AGAINST FLOUTING CAMPAIGN RULES

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) will soon issue guidelines for voting in the forthcoming NBA National Officers Elections.

In a statement today titled “On the march” and made available to CITY LAWYER, the ECNBA also allayed concerns that it is not carrying along some key stakeholders in the electoral process, saying it would soon meet candidates in the elections.

Apart from extending the deadline for the troubled verification exercise, the electoral committee also warned candidates to “take down all help desks, debate platforms (virtual or physical), and or voting desks set up for the purpose of the elections and which are capable of compromising the integrity of the process,” adding that “The Committee will not hesitate to sanction any candidate who deliberately flouts the provisions of the Constitution and the ECNBA Guidelines for the elections.”

In an indication that it may depart from the previous voting framework adopted in two previous elections, the electoral committee said in the statement signed by the electoral committee Chairman, Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN that the voting guidelines “shall amongst other things provide for a place, time and platform to be utilized for electronic voting for the elections to enable our members to vote without difficulty.”

Paragraph 2.4(c) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution (as amended) provides that “The ECNBA shall issue guidelines for conduct of electronic voting, which shall amongst other things provide for verification of voters, place, time and platform to be utilised 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.”

The committee also warned candidates against breaching the electoral guidelines, saying: “The candidates, their supporters, as well as NBA Branches, are advised to take down all help desks, debate platforms (virtual or physical), and or voting desks set up for the purpose of the elections and which are capable of compromising the integrity of the process. The Committee will not hesitate to sanction any candidate who deliberately flouts the provisions of the Constitution and the ECNBA Guidelines for the elections.”

Below if the full text of the statement.

ON THE MARCH

1.0 Preamble

As we gradually approach the NBA National Officers elections slated for July 29, 2020, we deem it imperative that we keep our esteemed members informed and clarified on salient issues that may impact on the electoral process.

2.0 Qualification of Aspirants & Publication of Lists of Voters

Following the call for nominations and expression of interests, the ECNBA determined the qualifications of the Candidates and circulated a full list of properly nominated candidates for the 2020 National Officers elections after exhausting all constitutional processes.

3.0 Verification.

The ongoing verification exercise is a very important stage in the election process primarily to ensure smooth access to one’s portal on the NBA website and verify or update one’s details and password (where necessary) before the 2020 elections. While verification has been an ongoing exercise for all members of the Association, it is more critical for eligible voters to ensure a hitch-free log-in for the elections. All voters who have successfully completed the process will be notified of same before the elections. Furthermore, the exercise shall also take care of the observations made on the published eligible voter’s list. We commend all who have duly verified in readiness for the elections and those yet to do so are advised to proceed without delay. Members are also advised to utilize the NBA help desks for the purpose of verification support and refrain from disclosing their log in details and passwords to others in order to avoid the danger of proxy voting.

In response to the commendable upsurge in verification of members, the ECNBA has decided to extend the deadline for verification of Voters to Monday 20th July 2020. The number of verification support lines will also be increased.

4.0 Going Forward.

The Committee frowns at activities that detract from the objectives of an inclusive free, fair, and credible poll for our Association. The Constitution has prescribed the manner of and mode for campaigns for the elections; as such, any electioneering campaign activity outside of this is unacceptable to the Committee. The candidates, their supporters, as well as NBA Branches, are advised to take down all help desks, debate platforms (virtual or physical), and or voting desks set up for the purpose of the elections and which are capable of compromising the integrity of the process. The Committee will not hesitate to sanction any candidate who deliberately flouts the provisions of the Constitution and the ECNBA Guidelines for the elections.

In the coming days, the Committee will put forward the Guidelines for electronic voting which shall amongst other things provide for a place, time and platform to be utilized for electronic voting for the elections to enable our members to vote without difficulty. Further education in the process will also be made available to Voters.

The ECNBA in the coming days will also interact with stakeholders within the limits of the Presidential Task Force Covid-19 Protocols and with due regard for the safety of our members and the need to obey the laws of the land. Participants to the interactive sessions will be communicated in due course.

5.0 Conclusion

The Committee remains committed to inclusive free fair and credible elections and solicits the cooperation of our highly respected members in our march to 29th July, 2020.

Dated this 14th day of July 2020.
Tawo E. Tawo, SAN
Chairman, ECNBA

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

ELECTORAL C’TE SETTLES FOR NBA WEBSITE AS VOTING PORTAL

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) may have resolved to deploy the NBA website as the voting portal for the forthcoming National Officers Elections.

An indication to this effect was given today by the NBA Assistant Publicity Secretary, Mr. Akorede Habeeb Lawal while responding to concerns raised by lawyers on a CITY LAWYER whatsapp platform.

This may have laid to rest speculations on whether the newly built NBA Election Portal will be deployed by the Electoral Committee for the elections.

While one Osa Akpata had expressed worry over the challenges being encountered by lawyers in the verification exercise, Lawal said that the verification process was not commenced with the elections in mind. His words: “Although the ECNBA has chosen to conduct the election on the NBA membership portal, the verification exercise was not commenced primarily because of election. And we will not compromise its essence on the altar of politics. Verification takes some time and that time is used to ensure from the backend that the applicant for verification is indeed the owner of the bar certificate he/she uploads. It is far beyond the election – greater than politics.”

Debunking the charge that the verification process is “flawed,” the NBA publicist said: “No one who had been verified would state that the process was flawed. A lot of members got verified and paid their BPF during the lockdown in March. And there was no complaint about the process.

“We also have to acknowledge that not all of us are versatile with the use of technology and as such, while others have a seamless verification exercise, some have troubles with it. It is for this reason that we’ve set up a help desk in this respect. Members with issues may and indeed have been reaching out to me and other national officers. I can be reached through this WhatsApp line.

“While not holding the brief of the ECNBA, the Chairman of the Committee has stated number without times that no eligible voter will be disenfranchised. If you cannot trust them, then, at least you give them the benefit of doubt.”
On the controversy surrounding some strange names found on the final voters register, Lawal said: “We have no non-living things/duplicated names on the verified list. With respect, you are confusing the voters list with a verified list. In fact, there is no such thing as a verified list.”

Akpata had raised concerns on duplicated names on the voters’ register, adding that this may adversely impact the outcome of the election. She said: “The process is fraught with flaws; we have non-living objects on the verified list, we have names duplicated, we are days to the election and we have tons of lawyers who have not been verified due to the onerous and flawed online process.

“I’ve been trying to assist a colleague to verify for over a week with no success, how you can disenfranchise Lawyers who have paid their Practising fees and Branch Dues as required by the NBA out of no failure on their part simply because of the very flawed process. If we do not trust the process, how do we trust the outcome?”

Another lawyer, Favour Hart however agreed with Lawal, saying: “May I humbly align myself with your position. The process for verification on the NBA Portal might take a while but it doesn’t mean you’d not get any response from them. All those I’ve helped with verification have been successful! Agreed, the back and forth might be frustrating but that doesn’t meant (sic) it’s fraught with flaws. We need to leave politics aside when making some comments.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Tawo SAN had in a statement noted that the NBA had developed an Election Portal, adding however that its deployment would depend on the advice of an information technology expert. His words: “There is no gainsaying that the success of the elections would depend to a large extent on the electronic or IT platform that would be deployed for the election. The need to procure such a platform has been a priority. 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.

“Further to the said briefing, the ECNBA decided that in spite of the advantages of such a portal, exploring the use of other viable e-voting platforms if necessary is not foreclosed. As such there was the need to engage an independent IT Consultant that would examine the NBA portal and critique same, its integrity, functionality and suitability or otherwise for the purpose of the elections as well as advise on other options. The Consultant would also be required to identify avenues for possible threats, and advise on how to contain same. Other issues to be addressed include the training of staff and all those associated with handling any part of the e-voting process by the consultant. They would be expected to verify electronically, the votes cast at the end of the exercise. Notwithstanding the above, the platform or portal to deploy for the election by the ECNBA would largely be dependent on the advice and report of the IT Consultant.”

Clarifying some controversy surrounding the NBA Election Portal, Tawo told a national newspaper that the portal was not designed to rig the forthcoming election. His said: “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.”

Arguing that there is wisdom in having a permanent NBA Election Portal, the Electoral Committee chairman said: “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?”

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

‘POSTPONE NBA ELECTIONS NOW,’ BAR LEADERS, SBL, EX-YLF CHAIR TELL ECNBA

  • SAY NBA ICT TEAM IS MANIPULATING VERIFICATION PROCESS

  • ASK ELECTORAL C’TE TO WAIVE VERIFICATION, BRANCH DUES

  • WORRY ABOUT NON-DISCLOSURE OF VOTING FRAMEWORK

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

A major twist has emerged in the run-up to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Officers Elections as some Bar leaders and the NBA Section on Business Law have asked the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) to postpone the elections in order to secure its credibility.

In a letter to the ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Tawo SAN dated 6th July, 2020 and obtained by CITY LAWYER, the Bar Leaders listed several challenges besetting preparations for the elections, warning that unless these issues are tackled, the NBA may witness another controversial election as was the case in 2016 and 2018.
Titled “Urgent concerns regarding the upcoming 2020 NBA Elections,” the letter was personally signed by frontline Bar Leader, Mr. Ade Okeaya-Inneh, SAN; Mr. Ayuli Jemide, Vice-Chairman, NBA Section on Business Law; Professor Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Co-Convener, Open Bar Initiative, and Ms. Barbara Omosun, Chairman, NBA Young Lawyers Forum (2014-2016).

Noting that the ECNBA has “a sacred duty which may have been marred by faulty starts,” the Bar leaders said: “We think with all sense of responsibility and to the extent that the NBA constitution allows, the ECNBA may consider requesting the NBA for a short postponement of elections to enable it to discharge its duties creditably.”

They urged the electoral committee to “take these issues raised very seriously to avoid a dent on the image of the ECNBA, the NBA, and all Nigerian lawyers,” adding: “We are rested in the fact that you understand that if the NBA which is a known bastion of governance fails to conduct credible elections, it will be a travesty of untold proportions unfolding under your watch.”

ECNBA_LETTER

The petitioners hinged their quest for a postponement on several factors, listing the issues under headings such as ‘Missing Names on Voters List,’ ‘Voters List Verification,’ ‘Voter Eligibility,’ ‘Verification and Transparent Process for Voting.’

Noting that “It is with all sense of responsibility as lawyers and members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that we have decided to formally record our concerns about the upcoming NBA elections,” the Bar Leaders chronicled the background to their request for a postponement, adding that “The NBA elections in 2018 was fraught with electoral glitches that raised questions for many members of the profession and interested Nigerians as to its credibility, rightly or wrongly.”

Stating that the ECNBA “must consider it a sacred duty to ensure that the 2020 elections redeem the dent on the NBA’s image arising from the questions raised about the conduct of the 2018 elections,” the Bar Leaders said that the call is for the ECNBA to “ensure that the playing field is level and the NBA can on the back of the 2020 elections regain its pride of place as a credible voice for governance and rule of law in Nigeria.”

They warned that disenfranchisement of any voter “due to technical glitches or administrative errors on the part of ECNBA cannot be excused. A technical disenfranchisement is still a disenfranchisement,” noting that “Thousands of members have complained that despite having paid their Bar Practising Fees and Branch Dues and armed with receipts, their names are still not on the voters list.”

According to them, the ECNBA “must create a fast track process that addresses these voters as a matter of urgency,” adding that “If these names are on the list of paid members provided by any of the banks, they should be allowed to vote. Some other lawyers have complained that their names had appeared on the list and disappeared at a later date. If these persons have their receipts of payment of Bar Practising Fees, they should not be disenfranchised.”

Turning to the thorny issue of verification, the Bar Leaders observed that “a list of credible voters needs to be obtained with greater simplicity and that every candidate should exercise their rights to review the voters list and its source well ahead of elections. The most credible way to achieve this in our view is to simply procure a bank certified print out of the names of NBA members who have paid their Bar Practising Fees which the candidates may then verify and compare with voters list already circulated by ECNBA.”

In a damning indictment of the verification process, the Bar Leaders said: “The unfortunate news going around on social media about names like ‘Opening Balance’’ being on the Voters List can only be refuted by a transparent process verified by all the candidates as we now suggest.”

On voter eligibility, the petitioners said: “To avoid disenfranchising many eligible voters and to create further simplicity, we suggest to ECNBA that for the 2020 elections the ECBNA should waive the pre-condition that voters must have paid their NBA branch dues. Our reasons are that that it is public knowledge that COVID19 occasioned lifestyle changes in the month of March in many cities (Lagos was most affected) that deterred many NBA members from paying their branch dues before 31st March 2020. Your Committee may wish to note that the first confirmed case of COVID19 in Nigeria was reported on 27th February 2020, and Punch Newspapers of 9th March 2020 reported that Nigeria had its second case of COVID19 and by 24th of March Nigeria had 44 cases, and the lockdown in Lagos and FCT commenced March 29 – which means the 30th and 31st being working days fell into the lock down period. As the ECNBA would know, the payment of branch dues for most branches entails members commuting to branch offices to present tellers to officers and it is characteristic with members to pay within the month of March particularly the last 2 days of the 30th and 31st of March.”

The Bar Leaders noted that the process for online accreditation “is semi manual, cumbersome, and akin to a technical disenfranchisement of thousands of voters. For example, we do not see why a member who has a Supreme Court Number (SCN) should also be required to upload a Call to Bar Certificate.”

Worried that the verification process is allegedly being programmed to rig the polls, the Bar Leaders said: “More so, it takes an average of three days for one to get the email of temporary log-in password instead of an automated process. This has raised suspicions, and rightly so, that persons behind the scenes use these three days to vet and calculatedly refuse certain voters from certain branches accreditation for the benefit of certain candidates.”

They urged the electoral committee to take a “brave decision in the interest of inclusiveness to drop the verification part of the eligibility process. In our view, anybody who has paid his or her Bar Practising Fees is an eligible voter and should not be put through rigours that are reminiscent of the nightmares millions of Nigerians went through to obtain PVC’s during the 2019 general elections. Technology is so advanced that simple algorithms can void a person whose name is not on the bank certified list who happens to gain unlawful access to the voting platform.”

Speaking on what they termed “Transparent Process for Voting,” the Bar Leaders described as “fearsome” the fact that barely three weeks to the elections “the voters and candidates do not know how the election technology works,” saying: “The ECNBA should know that any credible elections include a public briefing of candidates and the electorate on the process for voting. Questions that are being asked by members include: Is there an automatic process for collation of votes? Is that process transparent? What are the transparency features in the server? Which systems are in place to ensure that this server cannot be hacked? Any election that is not transparent is subject to manipulations and consequently subject to slanders which cannot be rebutted. This is the reason why votes are counted in public at polling booths during the Nigerian general elections. All voters are involved in the counting and go home knowing the results.”

The NBA Elections are scheduled to hold on July 29 and 30, 2020 via electronic voting.

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

‘NBA IS CONTROLLING YOU TO RIG ELECTION,’ ONU WARNS ECNBA

  • SAYS VERIFICATION MODEL WILL FOSTER FAKE VOTERS

  • ‘SAFEGUARD YOUR GOOD NAME,’ ONU TELLS TAWO TAWO

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The Co-Convener of Open Bar Initiative, Mr. Silas Onu has petitioned the Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) over the exclusion of his name and that of his colleague from the voters’ register for the forthcoming NBA Elections, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

In a letter dated 6th July, 2020 and titled “Conplaint (sic) against a foreseeable calculated attempt to disenfranchise me and other junior lawyers in the forthcoming national election of the Nigerian Bar Association,” Onu noted that while he has always discharged his financial responsibility to the NBA and is entitled to all benefits deriving from his membership of the association, “I have to make the point here that there is no benefit whatsoever that I have ever enjoyed as a faithful member of this Bar.”

Noting that “the only privilege that I have received by virtue of my membership is the right to vote and be voted for as enshrined in our constitution,” Onu stated that “this right itself has been stolen from me in the past and another concerted effort is underway to steal it from me again.”

Onu alleged that he was disenfranchised in 2018 by the Prof. Auwalu Yadudu-led electoral committee “in the total control of A. B. Mahmoud SAN,” adding that this was “due to my support for a candidate other than their endorsed candidate, even with evidence of all qualifying payments.”

Alleging that the current NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN “is the main beneficiary of that illegality,” Onu stated that “I fear that he (Usoro) is also controlling your committee to deliver the same outcome as the one that brought him in.”

Warning that he “will have a reason to seek redress and demand damages” if the right to vote is “taken away from me for the second time in a row,” the Abuja based lawyer also said that such “will determine my further need to pay anything to the Bar as the conduct of those running its affairs is gradually becoming a brazen acts (sic) of fraud with no fear for any consequence.”

Onu, who showered encomiums on the ECNBA Chairman, however warned him to steer clear of acts that may impugn his integrity, saying: “Mr. Chairman Sir, I have known you for many years. You have remained one of the few Senior Advocates who I deeply appreciate and respect because of how you have carried yourself with dignity of your station in life and respect for those who are behind you. You have earned yourself a good name by hard work and persevering in integrity. The task that you are currently chairing is one that can broaden your horizon in the path that you have been or completely deplete the good name that you have done for many years. The latter is easily achievable if you do not insist on managing the entire process that will lead up to the election. If you allow the certain regular partisan individuals occupying offices in the Secretariat to manage the process, then we will end up with a disputed election that can bring the NBA to its knee.”

Onu noted that there is a need to ensure that the electoral process “is more credible than the past and as transparent as the voting itself,” adding that the compilation of the voters register was a “shameful exercise” as it reflected a list “a list put together from names sent from various Branches of the Association.”

He alleged that the register is “replete with duplicate names or bogus names,” querying : “Can you sincerely say that a credible election is about to be conducted when thousands of qualified voters are unable to verify for the election?” He stated that many names on the voters register were without email addresses, adding that those assigned to administer the Help Desk “have become professional liars promising so much and delivering nothing to members with verification challenges.”

Providing their personal details, Onu said: “With the information given herein, there is no reason why we should not be able to do our verification before the last day scheduled for it, except if the bid to deny us this right is actually deeper than we thought.”

Onu warned that “lawyers verification should not have anything to do with this election,” and observed that opening the NBA portal for verification by all comers may be a recipe for a flawed election. His words: “This needs to be addressed urgently as allowing it as it is will open a window to all verified lawyers to gain access into the election portal even without having paid BPF for the year.”

The NBA Election is scheduled to hold on July 29 and 30, 2020.

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