The Nigerian Bar As-sociation, NBA, is enmeshed in a fresh scandal
following an allegation that two dead lawyers were among those that
voted in the election the body conducted last Tuesday.
The said election which was held in Abuja, afforded the umbrella body
of legal practitioners in the country, the opportunity to select those
that will pilot the affairs of the association in the next two years. The tenure of the incumbent national officers of the NBA led by Chief J.B Daudu, SAN, is due to expire in August.
However, barely three days after the election, one of those that
contested for NBA presidency, Chief Emeka Ngige, who is also a Senior
Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, has alleged that names of dead lawyers were
used in rigging him out.
Ngige who came second after polling 449 votes, as against 688 votes
that was garnered by the winner, Chief Okechukwu Wali, SAN, said he was
shocked upon discovering that “names of deceased persons from Port
Harcourt branch were added to the voters’ register.”
He gave names of the two deceased lawyers he identified from the
voters register as, Chief Nwobidike Nwanodi, SAN and Chief C. A. B.
He further alleged that notwithstanding his application that the
voters’ list be displayed 48 hours before the election as required by
the rules, the list was only made public 24 hours before the election.
He said: “True to our fears, the displayed list was riddled with
serious anomalies, irregularities and contradictions. The National
Executive Committee (NEC) list was manipulated to include non-NEC
members and even those who are constitutionally disqualified from being
NEC members. For example, Mrs. Ranti Bosede Daudu and Mr. Paul “Tunde”
Daudu, wife and son respectively of the incumbent NBA President, J. B.
Daudu (NBA), were smuggled in as ‘NEC members’ without the mandatory
approval by NEC as required by the NBA Constitution. In fact, Mr. Tunde
Daudu is less than 10 years at the Bar and is therefore disqualified
from becoming a NEC member.”
Nevertheless, the NBA, yesterday, dismissed his allegation as
balderdash, saying it was convinced that Ngige must be suffering from
either “post election stress, depression or failure of expectation.”
Addressing a press conference yesterday, NBA, through its outgoing
General Secretary, Mr Olumuyiwa Akinboro, said it never knew that the
two lawyers were dead, adding that their names were obtained from a
register of living lawyers it said was published by the Supreme Court
two months ago.
Insisting that the electoral process was free, fair and credible,
NBA, maintained that contrary to the impression Ngige has created with
the allegation, strict measures were taken with a view to ensuring that
no delegate voted twice during the election, noting that tags ssued to
the voters had accompanying picture for easy identification.
Akinboro told newsmen that the NBA electoral committee would forward
the election result to the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the
organization, adding, “that is where the issues that has been raised by
Ngige who is also a member of the NEC, will be tackled, not on the pages
of the newspaper.”
He said though the NEC is billed to meet in 3 months time, however,
the legal body decided to address the press on the issue so as to put
the records straight.
“We are not doing PDP or ACN election, we are not politicians and
this is a professional body which requires that all its members must
abide by the constitution and laid down procedures,” he added.
Justifying the inclusion of the wife and son of the outgoing NBA
President, Chief Daudu, SAN, in the voters list, Akinboro, said whereas
Daudu’s wife voted in her capacity as a member of the NBA NEC, her son
on the other hand, participated owing to his position as the President
of the Young Lawyers Association of Nigeria, a group he said was
co-opted into the process alongside other “special interest groups.”
“There were two sets of register that was used to scrutinize all the
delegates that voted. One of the register was for accreditation and the
other was for voting. Each delegate signed at the accreditation point,
the voting point and thumb printed after voting. The records are there.
It is therefore very funny for someone to say that dead persons voted at
the NBA election. This for us amounts to a deliberate attempt to
discredit the NBA. The association is bigger and larger than all of us.
I may not agree with the outcome of the election but it has come and
gone. In any election, somebody must win and somebody must lose,” NBA
Ngige had in his protest letter, alleged that “the total figures of
delegates for some branches perceived to be favourable to the adjudged
winner of the presidential election were reduced in the displayed
voters’ register to avoid being queried by other aspirants while the
actual voters’ register used for the elections was padded with
additional names to favour the adjudged winner of the presidential race.
An example is Port Harcourt Branch which had only 27 members on the
displayed list while additional 15 names were added into the actual
voters’ register to bring the Port Harcourt list to a whooping 42.
“Some members included as NEC members under the “special interest
groups” category are constitutionally disqualified from being NEC
members by virtue of the mandatory minimum 10-year post-call requirement
for membership. For example, while Mr. Chidi Ezenwafor was called to
the Bar on 21st May, 2008 (a mere five years at the Bar), Mr. Monday
Adjeh was called to the Bar in November 2005. Their inclusion violates
Section 9(a)(v) of the NBA Constitution.”