By Onuzure Dania
President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, ECNBA and other stakeholders at the weekend in Abuja assured Nigerian lawyers of their unwavering and collective commitment to conducting a transparent, free and fair election of new national officers for the association.
Mahmoud announced that elections into the 14 national offices of the NBA, which were initially scheduled for July 27 and 28, will now hold on August 19.
He assured that every lawyer who is qualified to vote will vote in the election.
He announced that the execution of the electoral process had now been broken down into three stages, namely: Pre-election audit, e-Voting and Post-election audit, with each stage being undertaken by an independent service provider in order to ensure credibility, integrity and transparency of the exercise.
He said: “I am happy to say that the process is proceeding smoothly, the verification is going on now and will be on while accreditation and voting will go on as announced by the ECNBA.
“There were initial hiccups with the earlier verification exercise held in July and this process has started all over again and is proceeding smoothly. I want to assure our colleagues and members of the public that the elections will be completely free and fair and credible, going by the measures we have put in place and we have been carrying along representatives of all the candidates especially the presidential candidates.”
In his explanations, the Alternate Chairman of the ECNBA, Mr. Babatunde Busari, SAN, gave full details of the electoral process, he said: “Upon the inauguration of the Electoral Committee of the NBA, we issued notices to all the branches and also issued guidelines that were complied with.
“We went on to invite members of the NBA who were interested in contesting for the national offices to put in their nomination, and went through a process of screening of the candidates upon which we invited the branches to submit lists of their members. It is with these lists of the members submitted by the NBA branches, together with the enrolment list of the Supreme Court of Nigeria that we generated the total list of eligible voters. Now, we have come to the verification of the list that we have because they have to meet certain criteria.
“However, due to recent developments, we had to start the process of verification afresh, extend the time-frame so as to ensure that none of our members is disenfranchised. All the technical advisers of all the candidates have been allowed to test the process and take part in major decisions as to the platform to use, mode and manner of verification, mode and manner of accreditation, mode and manner of the e-voting that we intend to employ.
“To make the process more transparent, we have split the process into three, Pre-election audit, e-Voting, Post-election audit and it is an all-inclusive arrangement in which all the candidates and their technical advisers have participated in the choice of the platforms and service providers.
“The verification has been extended, thereafter there will be a handover of the database to the service provider that will conduct the e-voting, which commences as announced by the ECNBA.
“We need to mention that the verification platform is more user-friendly, we call on all our members to go back to the platform and do their verification so that we can have a good turnout for accreditation and the voting proper.”