By Dayo Benson
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA has concluded plans to use electronic voting in its forthcoming general elections slated for July. The NBA president, Mr Augustine Alegeh, SAN, reaffirmed this at the just concluded National Executive Council, NEC meeting held in Benin, Edo State capital.
According to Alegeh, the web administrators have assured him that a fail-proof system has been put in place to ensure that there would be no systems failure on the day of the election. He also informed NEC that the administrators further assured that the portal can handle over 100,000 voters at the same time, an innovation which was highly commended by lawyers.
During proceedings, the NBA boss also informed NEC that the Dafe Akpedeye Election Monitory Committee of the NBA reported that 79 branches have successfully conducted their branch elections free of rancor. All the other branches that have not conducted their branch elections were urged to do so before the end of June, in line with the guideline expressly provided in the new association’s constitution.
However, the elections in Ikeja, Bukuru and Otuocha branches were canceled, due to noncompliance with the new NBA constitution and electoral guidelines. For Bukuru and Otuocha branches, the earlier candidates who met the requirements for elections were ordered to be deemed as returned unopposed and NEC approved this.
As for Ikeja Branch, the election for the office of Chairman was canceled and all the three candidates disqualified for not meeting the new requirements as provided in Section 6(3) of the new NBA constitution. Essentially, two of the candidates were disqualified for having held offices on two previous occasions and the third for non-payment of branch dues as at when due.
Mr. Nurudeem Ogbara, pioneer Chairman of Ikorodu Branch was mandate to oversee the affairs of Ikeja branch as Caretaker Committee Chairman which must conduct election into the office of chairman before the end of June as provided by the new NBA constitution.
The NEC also condemned in the strongest terms, the recent nationwide rampage of the Fulani herdsmen which claimed several lives, while expressing dismay at the lackadaisical attitude of the government over the wanton attacks on communities across the nation.
Citing the recent mass murder of indigenes of Nimo farming community in Enugu State, Chief Okafor Ofodile SAN and Chief Niyi Akintola SAN who raised the motion at the meeting urged the Augustine Alegeh leadership of the NBA to draw the attention of the government and its relevant agencies to the continued massacre of innocent Nigerians by these herdsmen.
The NEC meeting started with a cocktail hosted by the Chief Judge of Edo State, Hon. Justice Cromwell Idahosa at the State High Court in Benin City. NEC members thereafter moved to the Edo State Government house to pay a courtesy call on Governor Adams Oshomole. The NBA President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN also hosted NEC members to a dinner at his private residence in Benin City.
Governor Oshiomole who declared the meeting open enumerated his administration’s achievements to the delegates , which he said were only possible because of NBA’s staunch belief and adherence to the rule of law which made it possible for him to reclaim his mandate as Governor of the state eight years ago.
Oshiomole, while praising the NBA President and said, “Nigeria will remember the Bar under your leadership for being on the side of the people, at the most critical times. Nobody could buy or monetarily induce the NBA under your watch and your tenure would most certainly be well remembered for this in the history of the Association.”
He also acknowledged commendations from lawyers for his bold steps which led to abolition of the state’s Customary Courts of Appeal and upgrading them to the status of High Courts, a model which many states have emulated and replicated across the country.
One of the highlights of the NEC meeting was a practical demonstration of the e-voting system which the NBA will use for its national elections in the next few weeks. Mr. Ope Olugasa, the CEO of Law pavilion who will power the e-voting portal explained in explicit terms how lawyers should access the portal to cast their votes on the day of the election.
NEC also approved the new conference fees for the 2016 conference which will hold in Port Harcourt from August 19-26. The interim Alternate Conference Planning Committee Chairman, Mr. Greg Laminkara read out the new conference fees as follows:-