The Eastern Bar Forum (EBF) at a stakeholders meeting held on Wednesday, 22nd August, 2018 has rejected the outcome of the recently concluded Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Election and calls for an independent post-election audit. This was contained in a statement issued by the Forum at the end of its deliberation at Asaba, the Delta State capital.
While commending all its members for their exemplary support and good conduct throughout the NBA elections, the EBF cited several irregularities:
“i) The EBF had previously rejected the choice of CRAMS PLC as the IT service provider for the elections on the grounds of relationship with one of the Presidential candidates suggesting a real likelihood of bias, and incompetence in the handling of the earlier verification process.
ii) The worrisome retention of the same CHAMS PLC to handle the voting process despite their demonstrated incompetence in and compromise of the voter verification process.
iii) The elections were characterized by well-chronicled incidents of irregularities in the voters verification process, a compromised accreditation and voting process in which the commencement of voting was delayed for almost seven hours, and over 3000 verified voters suddenly disenfranchised because their names were omitted from the voting portal allegedly in the course of data transfer from the verification platform In addition, there were numerous reports of voter identity theft, and thousands of voters could not vote because their passwords were not sent to them until after the conclusion of the election.
iv) The EBF is alarmed that the ECNBA released the election results and declared winners without first carrying out a participatory post-election audit contrary to ECNBA published electoral guidelines and their agreement with the candidates.
On the strength of the above revelations, the EBF resolved as follows:
- The EBF totally condemns and rejects the processes leading to the conduct of the 2018 elections and the declaration of the results especially in relation to the office of NBA President.
- The EBF calls on the ECNBA to urgently carry out an independent post-election Audit by a credible international audit firm with the participation of the presidential candidates as previously agreed, and publish the report.
- The EBF deprecates the inability of the NBA to conduct elections devoid of controversy for the second consecutive time and laments the resultant consequence on the role of the NBA to its members and the Nigerian masses.
- The EBF acknowledges the growing sense of unease and outright dissatisfaction with the NBA on the part of an increasing number of lawyers who feel their views no longer matter.
- The EBF urgently calls on the elders of the Bar to step in and prevent further degeneration and imminent disintegration of the NBA.”
It would be recalled that Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN the adopted candidate for the Easter Bar Forum lost in the NBA Presidential polls to Paul Usoro SAN. The EBF had convened an emergency meeting of its key members to review the outcome of the election and the processes leading to the election.
The NBA is however going ahead with preparation for the swearing in of the newly elected executives and has announced Friday, 31st August for the handover.