Pilot Law

Paul Usoro emerges NBA president 


By Kayode Adeoti

After series of controversies that trailed the conduct of the Nigerian Bar Association {NBA} election, four {4} days ago, lawyers were able to decide through their votes who governs them for the next two administrative years.
In what was described as a keenly contested election among three Senior Advocates of Nigeria who vied for the association topmost seat, Barr. Paul Usoro, SAN polled highest votes of 4,509 to emerge winner.
Usoro who is the founder and Senior Partner of Paul Usoro & Co. defeated his closest contender, Okafor Obi SAN who polled 4,423 with just 86 votes while Ernest Ojuwkwu SAN had 3,313 votes.
For the General Secretary which some legal practitioners often refer to as ‘association hot seat’, the three Kwara indigenes, Mobolaji Idris, Rafiu Oyeyemi Balogun and Mus’d Alabelewe who gunned for it were defeated by Taidi Jonathan Gunu who polled the highest votes of 3,574.
Alabelewe had 2,237, Mobolaji also polled total votes of 1,993 while Balogun got the votes of 1,630.
Since the announcement of the result on Monday, there have been allegation of fraud, favourism, as well as alleged incompetence of the service providers that were contracted to conduct the electronic exercise.
It was learnt that 3,631 could not vote out of 16,115 eligible voters. This development has however led to the complaints by some lawyers who are of the view that the publication of the results was premature, adding many lawyers have been disenfranchised.
It was further noted that lawyers had hard times generating passwords for voting; they however posited that more time ought to have been given to the pre-election exercise rather than disenfranchising those who could have equally voted.
For Arthur Obi Okafor SAN, he withdrew from the race and rejected the expected outcome of the results even before they were published.
In his concession statement posted on media, Prof. Ojukwu alleged that the election was filled with “corruption, massive vote buying, rigging and skewed process.”
He said the irregularities demanded that the outcome be challenged but maintained that he would not challenge it due to his belief in a regenerated Bar.
Thanking his supporters, he said: “With the kind of passion you have and expressed in various actions recently to create a Bar of our dream, our destiny is still in our hands.”
“Keep moving on the task of Setting-A-New-Bar. The Bar is yours. It is your right to have the kind of Bar you desire. It is also your responsibility,” he added.
Also, in his reaction, Okafor thanked his supporters for believing in his vision of ‘All-Inclusive Bar’.
“Throughout the electoral process, you exhibited a high level of discipline, decency, consistency, integrity; and were neither swayed by money or other sentiments,” he said.
“As we close this chapter today, I can without any iota of doubt, beat my chest with pride and boast that I worked with the best set of lawyers in actualizing our desire to lead our noble association and return it back to the path of honour and integrity.”
Ojibara has also reacted to the poll in a press statement he tagged ‘I wish the Bar well’
The former NBA chairman, Ilorin branch appealed to his supporters to consider the overall interest of the Bar by cooperating with the incoming executive.
“…Unfortunately despite our best efforts I have been reliably informed that the bar preferred another.
“It is important I place on record my immense gratitude to all those who stood by me and the ‘MIO4NBAGS’ (Campaign Team) in these last two years,” he stressed.
The legal luminary in his statemanship gesture however appreciated those who have suported him during the period of electioneering campaign saying, “I am indeed very lucky to have worked with noble and decent people, lawyers with integrity not swayed by money politics or campaign of calumny. You are of the finest calibres consisting of a quality mix – respected seniors and juniors, esteemed ladies and gentlemen of the bar.
“Together we ran a very decent, modest but efficient campaign devoid of bitterness or calumny even in the face of provocation. Having put your faith, hope and industry in me these past two years, I promise you that despite our loss, I will forever be grateful to you all. Indeed your steadfastness, courage and perseverance humbles me.”
Meanwhile, outgoing President of the association, Abubakar Mahmoud has commended the electoral committee for the conduct of the election
Mahmoud, said the election was the fairest exercise held so far.
Usoro’s Background
Usoro was born in Ukana Ikot Ntuen town in Essien Udim LGA of Akwa Ibom State on 07 September 1958. He studied Law at the University of Ife, Ile-Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife), Osun State, Nigeria where he obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree (with Honours) in 1981. During his compulsory National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) he had a stint with the Benue State House of Assembly and thereafter served at George Uloko & Co in Makurdi where he cut his teeth in advocacy practice.
In 1983, he joined Sani Mohammed Kuso & Co in Kaduna. His hard work and intellect resulted in a rapid elevation to Head of Litigation, leading the Firm in complex litigation matters including about 12 (twelve) House of Assembly election petitions in Niger State sequel to the 1983 elections and also the representation of 3 (three) key persons before the Awoniyi Commission of Inquiry in Niger State in 1984.
Usoro, SAN was elevated to the Inner Bar as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2003.
He represents domestic and multinational companies, public agencies, governments and inter-governmental institutions in various sectors.

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