….NBA President Usoro refutes claim
A candidate in the 2020 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential election, Mr Dele Adesina SAN, Monday shed light on his claim that the process was manipulated.
Adesina renewed a call he made last week for the cancellation of the poll, in a letter to the NBA’s Board of Trustees Chairman, Dr Olisa Agbakoba.
His allegations were however refuted by outgoing NBA President Paul Usoro.
Former NBA Secretary-General Adesina and his brother Silk Dr Babatunde Ajibade last Thursday lost the race for the NBA Presidency to a non-SAN, Mr Olumide Akpata.
Akpata will succeed Usoro SAN later this month.
But in his petition seen by The Nation, Adesina alleged that the election was marred by over-voting, disenfranchisement of some eligible voters, and non-compliance with the provisions of the NBA constitution.
According to him, the voters register verified by the Electoral Committee of NBA (ECNBA) was found to be “manipulated, doctored and padded”.
Adesina said the register contained “4,464 names of purported Lawyers without Branches ascribed to any of them from Serial Number 25171 to 29635. This List obviously provided cover for harvested voters without Branches;
“86 names of Lawyers (were) under the category ‘International Diaspora’ from Serial Number 12182 to 12268, a clear violation of the provisions of the Constitution of the NBA. International Diaspora as a Branch is unknown to the NBA Constitution.”
He alleged that there were cases of inflation of the list of some Branches, including “For instance, Obollo-Afor Branch had only 39 names from Serial Number 30424 to 30462 on the Final List for Verification. Strangely, this increased to 662 on the Verified Voters List published on the date of the Election.”
According to him, there was also deletion/removal of names of many members from the final list. “For example: Ikeja, Ibadan, Enugu, Ife, Ado-Ekiti and many others had their number of voters substantially reduced without any explanation whatsoever or howsoever,” Adesina said.
In another instance, he alleged that the voting site had predetermined election data.
He added: “A close examination of the recorded result at different timelines shows percentage movement of the Presidential Candidates as 54%, 23% and 21% with little or no variation.
“The system was obviously programmed to distribute votes at either +1 or 1 throughout the 24-hour period.
“Besides, about forty percent of voters could not vote as they were not sent with the links to do so. Again, ECNBA admitted this fact by stating that notices were delivered in batches what ought to be delivered at once to all prospective voters.
“Out of about 29,000 prospective voters, about 14,000 were not able to vote by the reasons stated above. As if that is not enough, instead of the recorded system stating that Mr. Olumide Akpata leads by 54% barely from about 20 minutes after voting started, the system stated that Olumide Akpata is winning by 54% in order to hoodwink and bias the mind of the voters in an election that is supposed to be free and fair.”
However, Usoro, in a memo last month to NBA Past Presidents & Trustees, refuted some of the allegations in Adesina’s letter.
Usoro said: “To reinforce the explanations in the ECNBA Statement No. 19, I further explained to Mr. Adesina that (a) all the names in the Verified Voters’ List were drawn from the Final Voters’ List that was published by the ECNBA on 01 July 2020 and that no new names were added;
“(b) all the names in the Verified Voters’ List are lawyers and had paid their Bar Practicing Fees and Branch Dues and had therefore met the eligibility qualification to vote in the Elections;
“and (c) the Elections would be determined, not on the basis of NBA branches but based on universal suffrage of the members which is the voting system enshrined in the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution, 2015 (as amended) and we should therefore not be fixated on the electronic glitches that assigned wrong branches to members.
“I stand by those explanations…”
He added: “It is strange that Mr. Adesina claims that there were members ‘who received the link’ but ‘could not vote’. The overwhelming evidence that I received and also read on social media was to the effect that the voting process was ‘seamless’ and very easy for our members. I have so far not received any report from any member claiming that he or she had challenges in voting on the basis of the unique link that were sent to members from and by the Election Platform server.”