A day to the scheduled national elections of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the campaign organisation of Mr. Joe Gadzama has alleged that the electoral process to be supervised by the Electoral Committee of Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) is riddled with anomalies.
The alleged anomalies were announced at a press conference addressed by Professor Maxwell Gidado, a member of the Joe Gadzama Campaign Organisation. Notably, said Gidado at the press conference, the electoral process lacks transparency and is characterised by brazen partisanship. According to Gidado, the incumbent NBA President, Augustine Alegeh, has demonstrated preference for a candidate and has significantly invested in his candidature.
“The President’s actions and utterances at several fora and on national television whereby he openly canvassed support for his preferred candidate, vilified and cast aspersions on the other dampen confidence of objective-minded lawyers to repose confidence in the ability his appointed ECNBA to deliver free, fair and credible elections,” he said.
Gidado also alleged that the ENCBA is ill-prepared to adequately deliver on its mandate of credible polls. This situation, he said, is evidenced by a number of factors.
The first, said Gidado, is the fact that many NBA members, who have met the basic requirement for voting (payment of Bar Practising Fee and Branch Due for 2016 on or before March 31, 2016) are yet to have their names captured in the voters register uploaded on the association’s website since 22 June.
This, he added, was despite the fact that such names were forwarded by the branches to the National Secretariat.
Gidado also alleged that there are instances of multiple registrations, with names appearing in multiple branches and names of persons appearing in branches whose chairmen have disavowed.
“It is alarming that as at today when the election is just two days away the final voter register is not yet ready. This, he argued is in breach of Article 2.3 (d) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution 2015.
Gidado noted that the NBA Secretariat is in possession of the complete database of lawyers, following the issuance of Stamps and Practice Licences to lawyers on fulfilment of those same requirements stipulated for eligibility to vote. Despite this, he said, NBA branches, are still being required to submit the said data to the ECNBA. Gidado also raised issues related electronic voting for which he said the ENCBA has shown inadequacy. He argued that the association’s constitution prescribes electric voting. However, he explained that the constitution also spoke about internet access to voters in their respective locations, something the ENCBA seems to be ignoring
“The last two elections of Abuja Branch have been by e-voting, which uses cards at a designated location (and not over the internet) and they have been relatively free, fair, transparent and credible, although there is room for improvement on it.
“We are aware that other branches also used the same method.
“This is the spirit and letter of Article 2.4 (c) of the NBA Constitution, which appears to stipulate the holding of e-voting at each branch taking into consideration the peculiarity of the IT infrastructure of the branches,” he added.
He concluded that the ECNBA is not yet ready for the elections, arguing that it is better for it to address the issues identified and for the President to allay the fears they have generated.