Below is the response from Victor Abasiakan Etim to the Preliminary Report of the Arthur Obi-Okafor SAN’s Techncial Team’s report on alleged irregularities at the just concluded NBA election:
I have read the Preliminary Report that was prepared and released by Mr. Olumuyiwa Olowokure, the Leader of the Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN’s Technical Team, alleging irregularities that the Team purportedly identified in the just concluded NBA Elections. In the Report, Mr. Olowokure attempts to rubbish the NBA Elections and calls on “the current leadership of NBA to act and cancel this fault laden process that declared Paul Usoro SAN the winner of the election”.
The election processes had its significant challenges which would need to be looked into and addressed by the incoming NBA administration, but the election itself, as far as I observed, met the standard of substantial compliance and Mr. Usoro won the Presidency of the NBA straight and square. The current negative narratives by Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN’s Team amounts to unnecessary bellyaching and an attempt to call a dog (the Elections) by a bad name in order to nullify it.
The Elections results have been hailed by the majority of lawyers across the geographical spread of Nigeria and Mr. Usoro is positioned to take over as the 29th President of the NBA, by Divine Grace. I know and can confirm that Mr. Usoro is focused on and determined to effect significant reforms in the NBA with the aim of making the NBA an institution of pride to all lawyers and non-lawyers alike. Typical of him, he has been magnanimous in victory and has graciously extended his hand of friendship and brotherhood to both Prof Ernest Ojukwu, SAN and Chief Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN.
“Openmailbox.org”; “firemail.cc”; “airmail.cc” Domains
The crux of the AOO Report relates to the allegation that there were certain irregularities in the Election in regard to the verified voters’ list and the use of three main domains – “Openmailbox.org”, “firemail.cc” and “airmail.cc” – by some lawyers in their e-mail addresses in the said list. According to the AOO Report, the lawyers’ actual e-mail addresses were supplanted by unknown persons with e-mail addresses from these three domains that did not belong to the named lawyers. I took active part in Mr. Usoro’s campaign and represented him in meetings with ECNBA and can state categorically that Mr. Usoro’s Campaign Team was not aware of nor privy to any such actions assuming that they happened at all.
What is rather troubling and extremely alarming to me is the admission by Mr. Olowokure in the AOO Report that he and his Team may have hacked into and/or compromised the Crenet and Chams servers in the course of the Elections. According to Mr. Olowokure, “a day before the election” he and his Team purportedly “discovered from the verification portal the incidences of some strange looking email addresses that surfaced as lawyers alleged email addresses for the first time. These email addresses predominantly came from three domains “openmailbox.org”, “firemail.cc” and “airmail.cc”.
As we recall, at all times material to the verification, the candidates and indeed all lawyers were able to access the verification portal but could only see the names of lawyers, their Enrolment Numbers and Branches but definitely not the telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. The technical people in the PU Campaign Team who attended meetings of ECNBA with me and also acted as agents for Mr. Usoro during the elections inform me that these additional pieces of information could only be accessed from the backend of the servers – whether Crenet or Chams. The backends of these servers were accessible only to the Crenet and Chams administrators and no other; in particular, they were not accessible to the candidates.
So, assuming that the AOO Team are telling the truth, how did they come by the information which they purport to have had and which the other candidates did not have? For the avoidance of doubt, I have investigated and confirmed that none of the candidates nor their agents were permitted or allowed any access to the backend of the Crenet and/or Chams’ servers. Mr. Olowokure and his Team may either therefore be lying about what they claim to have known or they had actually compromised and hacked into the service providers’ servers in the course of the Elections. Only these circumstances would explain their purported e-mails to the ECNBA which were not copied to other candidates.
As at 17, 18 and early hours of 19 August 2018 when they purported to have sent those e-mails to ECNBA alerting the Committee to the use of those three domains, none of the candidates had been given the Crenet verified list of voters that contained the details and information which Mr. Olowokure and his Team purport to have had. It was not until 5,53pm on Sunday, 19 August 2018, following the further loading of data on to the Chams portal that the ECNBA released to the candidates’ agents the revised list of verified voters that contained the voters’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses. By that time, as Mr. Olowokure now claims in his Report, his Team already had that data and information with them.
Given this scenario and the possibility that Mr. Olowokure may have illegally compromised and/or hacked into the Crenet and/or Chams’ servers, what moral or even legal right has he and his Team to raise issues of irregularities in the recently concluded NBA Election? With his Team having purportedly had such unauthorized and illegal access to the servers as they now admit to having had, what could, or may they have done to the Election data and processes that the rest of us may not have been aware of?
Purported Evidence – Annexure G
Still on the integrity quotient of Mr. Olowokure and his Team, Annexure G to his Report does great disservice to his integrity and that of his Team. I have confirmed that Annexure G to Mr. Olowokure’s Report was not issued and/or given by the ECNBA to Mr. Olowokure and his Team. So, where did Mr. Olowokure and his Team get that document come from? It is either that the document was fabricated by Mr. Olowokure and his Team or they, as is now becoming obvious, had compromised and hacked into the Crenet and/or Chams servers to obtain the data. I leave you, dear readers, to make your judgment on the credibility and probative value of documents of that nature, whether fabricated or illegally obtained. Beyond that, I leave you to judge the integrity quotient of the people who engage in such illegalities and malpractices
In all of these, it is rather intriguing to me that the AOO Team, in the ECNBA’s Election Situation Room and beyond, were, while voting was under way, literally jubilating, back-slapping, gloating and rejoicing at the prospect of success, believing that they had won the Presidency of the NBA as witnessed by all in the ECNBA’s Situation Room. This euphoria continued until Mr. Usoro closed in on and overtook Chief Okafor in the evening of Sunday, 19 August 2018. Assuming that that upset did not occur and Mr. Okafor had proceeded to win the Election, would Mr. Olowokure and his Team have seen and come out with the “warts” that they now claim to see in the processes of the Election? Definitely not.
We know that it is a Nigerian attitude to always blame election losses on malpractices and irregularities, but we should strive to be different in the NBA Elections. Losing an election does not make one any less of a Bar Leader and the respected Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN can still make tremendous contributions to the Bar under the leadership of Mr. Usoro, to the Glory of God and man. I therefore most respectfully implore him to accept Mr. Usoro’s olive branch and let peace and progress reign, in the overall interest of the Bar.
Victor Abasiakan Ekim