By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – An Abuja High Court sitting at Apo, on Friday, admitted series of documents into evidence, in a suit seeking to sack the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, from office over an allegation that the election that produced him in 2016 was electronically rigged.
Among over 30 documents the court admitted into evidence in the matter, included two letters dated June 30 and July 11, 2016, wherein an erstwhile President of the legal body, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, allegedly queried the legibility of the register used for the election.
Olanipekun had in the said letters which the court admitted as Exhibits P27 and P28, complained that his name was among those that were omitted from the voters’ register that was used for the NBA poll.
Justice O. A. Adeniyi admitted the exhibits which the plaintiff and runner-up at the election, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN, tendered on a day he appeared to testify as the sixth principal witness, PW-6.
Other documents the court entered into evidence were series of letters the plaintiff exchanged with NBA and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, between July 15 and August 28, 2016, alleging irregularities in the election process that involved electronic voting.
As well as a copy of Guidelines/Timetable for the election, which the plaintiff insisted was grossly violated.
Meantime, Justice Adeniyi has adjourned the case till March 22 for the PW-6 to enter his Evidence-in-Chief before the court.
Specifically, the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/2364/2016, is among other things, seeking for: “A declaration that the defendants jointly and/or severally, are bound by the provisions of the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association amended and adopted in August 2015 and must in all matters relating to, connected with the business and or affairs of the Association obey and give effect to the provisions thereof.
“A declaration that the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election as it relates to the office/position of the President held on 30th and 31st July, 2016 under the supervision of the 8th to 14th Defendants (now 2nd to 8th Defendants), which purportedly produced the 15th Defendant (now 9th Defendant) as President, was in total violation and disregard of the mandatory provisions of the NBA Constitution 2015, Election guidelines set down for the said Election fell short of established standards and international best practices, thereby making the said Election null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
“A declaration that the Internet voting mechanism, method and system adopted for the conduct of the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election as it relates to the office/position of the President held on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st July, 2016, was not in conformity with the mandatory provisions of the NBA constitution 2015, in that all the pre-requisite preparations, obligations and duties provided for under the Constitution to guarantee free, fair, credible and transparent Electronic voting system were ignored, disregarded and or not complied with by the Defendants.
“A Declaration that the integrity of the 2016 NBA Election as it relates to the office/position of the President organized by the 8th – 14th Defendants (now 2nd to 8th Defendant) on 30th and 31st July, 2016 which purportedly returned the 15th Defendant (now 9th Defendant) as President was fundamentally and incurably compromised by undue influence, overbearing, biased conduct and utterances of the 14th Defendant (Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN, immediate past President, Nigerian Bar Association) [now 8th Defendant] through the media and at Bar meetings before and during the Election and thereby robbed the conduct of the election of every element of impartiality, independence and transparency as required by established standards and international best practices.
Likewise “An order of this honourable court nullifying and setting aside the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election as it relates to the office/position of the President held on the 30th and 31st July, 2016 which purportedly returned the 15th Defendant (now 9th Defendant) as president”.
Cited as defendants in the suit are the Incorporated Trustees or the NBA, Mr. Kenneth Mozia (Chairman, Electoral Committee of NBA), Mr. Oluwaseun Ajoba (Secretary, ECNBA), Hajia Safiya Balarabe (Member, ECNBA), Mrs Amaka Ezeno, (Member ECNBA), Mrs. Eucharia Pepple (Member ECNBA), Grace Infotech Limited, Mr. Augustine Alegeh, SAN (immediate past President of NBA) and Mr. Mahmoud (current NBA President).