Nigerian lawyers need to move away from unproductive shenanigans at this time. We need to begin to ask relevant questions about important issues.
Going by the time table and guidelines published by the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA), the 2018 NBA polls will open in less than 30 days. I am not sure the ECNBA has unveiled the service provider it has engaged to power the e-voting. No procedure for the election has equally not been set out. I have engaged about 80% of the candidates for the elections and the common response is that ECNBA has not invited anyone to any forum or meeting in relation to the election to discuss the procedure for accreditation and voting.
We, the electorate, have not been told anything by the ECNBA. Have we all become experts in the procedure we do not even know? Experience shows conclusively that e-voting is suitably more convenient for the voters when everything associated with it is clearly set out, devoid of complexities. But, it certainly would be the greatest means of disenfranchising the greater majority if the right mechanisms are not put in place and the procedure adequately explained. This is so because it is a process that requires a lot of “do it yourself”. How and when are we going to be educated on the process of this e-voting so as to ensure that the process is fair to all and does not occasion gross injustice to the greater majority? This is a critical question.
So many persons were rightly or wrongly disqualified from contesting the forthcoming election. Although the ECNBA chairman came out to clarify that it is not disqualification but a request for clarification, hence the phrase “Not Cleared”, but the letters written by the ECNBA to the affected persons betray this clarification. More importantly, it would appear that the constitutionally prescribed 14 days for the determination of the appeals lodged by the aggrieved persons have lapsed, yet the ECNBA has not pronounced on the fate of the appeals! Many may be calm because the candidates they support were “Cleared”, but I tell you, things do not go bad suddenly. Today, it’s not your candidate. But truth is, tomorrow it may be. For whatever it is worth, this is the time to ask the ECNBA to clearly make its pronouncement on the disqualified or “Not Cleared” candidates. For posterity and for the sake of our Association, the ECNBA owes it to us to act in utmost good faith, knowing that the members swore to an oath which binds them in the performance of their onerous responsibilities. The major task before the members of the ECNBA is to hold an even keel and ensure that the confidence reposed in them remains on a high scale until they conclude their work and take a bow out.
These should be the relevant questions.
What more?!! With the furore generated by the interim voters list published by ECNBA and the seeming maladroitness displayed by the body so far, it is doubtful if the Committee can resolve up to 25% of the complaints of the voters. Already, it is less than 28 days to the election, yet the final voters list has not been published by the committee in line with the stipulation in Paragraph 2.3 (d), 2nd Schedule to the NBA Constitution. Isn’t this, in itself, an infraction of our Constitution?! If the committee that is saddled with the organization or conduct of the election in line with the constitution itself disregards the constitution, will it have any legal or moral core to proceed against or call out any candidate who by his conduct, overtly or covertly, commits an infraction of the same constitution? Why is everything about the 2018 NBA election shrouded in gratuitous secrecy?
Discerning lawyers ought to be more concerned about these issues, rather than turn ourselves to pugilists over who is an “adopted child” or a “legitimate child”.
May the good spirits of our forebears in this profession not desert us.
Aikhunegbe Anthony Malik wrote in from Abuja