Intrigues as lawyers elect new President
By Tasie Theodore
It is a season of intrigues in the Nigerian Bar Association as lawyers file out to elect a new president for the association.
The elections which are being conducted electronically, would expectedly produce a new President and other members of the National Executive Council of the umbrella body of legal practitioners in the country.
It is the second time the polls are being held electronically.
Observers say that beyond even the mere fact of the election of a new executive, all eyes are on the lawyers to see if they would come out with a befitting executive that would once more restore public confidence and trust in an association that has for some years now, being widely seen as performing below the mark.
The trio of Adesina, Apata and Ajibade are front-runners in the polls whose outcome is due to be released later today, pundits say.
In what observers see as a quite testy run, Nigerian lawyers are presently set to elect a new executive to pilot the affairs of their umbrella body, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA.
At the moment, bookmakers say the bets are on three frontline candidates that could emerge out of the range of contenders in the NBA presidential race. They are two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Mr. Dele Adesina and Dr Babatunde Ajibade; as well as a former Chairman of the NBA Section on Business Law, Mr Olumide Akpata.
To get to this stage of the process, the Chief Tawo Tawo-led Electoral Committee of the NBA, had on Wednesday, released a list of 29,635 lawyers who had been accredited to vote in the e-election, scheduled to commence at 11pm on Wednesday.
In its “Statement No.18” on Wednesday, the ECNBA said the 29,635 accredited voters excluded “1,604 names with duplicate phone numbers and/or email addresses.”
The electoral committee urged lawyers to conduct themselves “in the respectable manner for which the legal profession is known,” and advised all the candidates in the elections and their supporters to stop campaigning.
The ECNBA said voters could observe the election real time from the comfort of their locations by following a given link.
Meanwhile, in what appears to be the threat of yet another seed of controversy that is presently brewing, a former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja branch, Mr Adesina Ogunlana, has vowed to challenge the verdict of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, which affirmed his disqualification from the NBA presidential race, which is being conducted through an electronic poll.
At a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday, Ogunlana explained that he was disqualified by the electoral committee on the basis that he failed to supply a letter of good standing from his local branch.
He blamed the incumbent Chairman of the Ikeja NBA, Mr Dele Oloke, for not only refusing his application for a letter of good standing but also issuing a May 25, 2020 letter, accusing him of failing to refund N11.65m “withdrawn by you from the branch’s insurance account into your personal account.”
Ogunlana argued that Oloke had no right to bring up the N11.65m issue as he was already being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the matter was therefore subjudice.
He maintained that he ought not to have been disqualified from the NBA election because a letter of good standing was not one of the eligibility conditions set out in Section 8(3)(c) of the NBA constitution.
Ogunlana’s attempt to stop the NBA election completely had hit a brick wall last Friday when Justice Adedayo Oyebanji dismissed his application for interlocutory injunction.
The judge said having admitted his failure to submit a letter of good standing to the electoral committee, Ogunlana had no legal right to be protected by the court.
However, Ogunlana said he was displeased with the court’s verdict and would be going on appeal.
He predicted that the NBA elections would be fraught with rigging and end in chaos.
Ogunlana said, “We of the Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association foresee chaos in the election as the vexatious issue of rigging and manipulation of the electronic voting method adopted by the Nigerian Bar Association with the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association (2015 as amended) is rearing its ugly head again.
“Almost all the candidates in the national elections have expressed their doubt with the integrity of the electronic voting platform.
“We categorically demand that to rest this vexatious issue of electronic voting manipulation and rigging, the exercise should be decentralised with same to be conducted at branch levels before central collation at the national level. We also call for the abolition of rotational presidency on tribal arrangements as currently exists.”
The outcome of the poll is expected to be made public later today.