These are not the best of times for the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA). The conduct of its election for national officers is hanging in the balance as myriads of controversies have continued to trail the preparation for the polls.
The election that was initially billed for 31st July was however shifted by the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA), to 19th and 20th of August 2018.
Apart from the hullabaloo that emanated from the disqualification of the association immediate past general secretary, Barr. Mazi Afam Osigwe, who was running for the position of the president, the NBA is also embroiled in serious strife on the issue of multiple aspirants vying for a single seat.
Barr. Osiegwu has however sought legal redress over this issue, his matter came up last week and it was adjourned to September.
A group under the aegis of the NBA, who was alleged to have further fuelled the crisis brewing in the association was Egbe Amofin, it was learnt that the group has adopted one candidate out of three contesting for the office of general secretary. Though, the adoption has been faulted by many legal practitioners on the basis that it was against the constitution of the association and it cannot in anyway determine the fortune of any candidate aspiring for the seat.
Also causing discordance tune in the association is the choice of Chams Plc, an ICT company, contracted to conduct the election process. It was learnt the company has a link with one of the presidential aspirants, Paul Usoro (SAN).
Other presidential aspirants in the race are; Arthur Obi-Okafor (SAN) and Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN.
In order to address the allegation that the Chams might compromise its integrity considering its relationship with Usoro SAN, it was gathered that NBA agreed to include other ICT firms to monitor the harvest of online votes.
Chams Plc will provide the e-voting platform, other ICT firms will conduct the pre-election and post-election verification and audit respectively.
The chairman of the Ilorin branch of the NBA, Barr. Muhammed Idowu Akande, speaking on this backdrop, stressed that the verification process of the service provider contracted for the online voting has not been working ultimately.
According to him, the conduct of the poll might not be feasible at the fixed date considering the fact that significant numbers of eligible voters have not been able to complete their online registration process.
80 per cent of lawyers in Ilorin Bar have not been able to do the online registration, the process is very slow. Because NBA want to satisfy everybody and to address the allegation levelled against the presidential aspirant, it involved another service provider. I don’t see the possibility of the poll holding on the fix date because I’m not sure if all concerned lawyers would have all been verified by then.
Meanwhile, the NBA President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), had given the assurance that the election would be free, fair and devoid of irregularities.
He further disclosed that about 32,000 lawyers were eligible to take part in the election, which will usher in a new leadership that will pilot the affairs of the association in the next two years.
The list of eligible voters, according to Mahmoud, was collated from the 125 branches of NBA in Nigeria and the Supreme Court.
Mahmoud had previously explained that the NBA election earlier scheduled for last month could not hold as scheduled due to issues raised in some quarters surrounding the credibility of the verification process.
Names of past NBA Chairmen with dates:
*Christopher Sapara Williams – (1900–1915)
*Sir Kitoyi Ajasa – (1915–1937)
*Eric Olawale Moore – (1937–1944)
*E.J. Alex Taylor – (1944–1950)
*Sir Adeyemo Alakija – (1950–1952)
*Jubril Martin – (1952–1959)
*Frederick Rotimi Williams – (1960–1968)
*Peter Thomas – (1968–1969)
*Chief B.M. Boyo – (1969–1970)
*Chief Richard Akinjide – (1970–1973)
*Chief Adebayo Ogunsanya -(1973–1974)
*Dr. Mudiaga Odge – (1974–1975)
*Dr. Nwakanma Okoro – (1976–1978)
*Chief B.O. Benson – (1978–1980)
*Chief Adetunji Fadairo – (1980–1982)
*A.N. Anyamene – (1982–1984)
*Prince Bola Ajibola – (1984–1985)
*Ebele Nwokoye – (1985–1987)
*Alao Aka-Bashorun- (1987–1989)
*Charles Idehen – (1989–1991)
*Chief Clement Akpamgbo -(1991–1992)
*Priscilla Kuye – (1991–1992)
Between 1992 and 1998 the NBA had no president, functioning only in branches. After the crisis, presidents were:
*Chief T.J.O. Okpoko, SAN -(1998–2000)
*O.C.J. Okocha, SAN – (2000–2002)
*Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN -(2002–2004)
*Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN – (2004–2005)
*Prince Lanke Odogiyo – (2005–2006)
*Olisa Agbakoba – (2006–2008)
*Chief Olurotimi Akeredolu, SAN – (2008–2010)
*Joseph Bodurin Daudu, SAN – (2010 – 2012)
*Okey Wali, SAN – (2012 – 2014)
*Augustine Alegeh, SAN – (2014 – 2016)
*Mahmoud Abubakar Balarabe, SAN – (2016 till date)