By Innocent Anaba
An aspirant, contesting for the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, presidential position, Mr. Olumide Akpata, on Tuesday, warned that “anything short of a fully transparent, free, fair, credible and user-friendly electoral process in the forthcoming elections would thoroughly offend the collective sensibilities of the members of the NBA, which the Electoral Committee of the NBA, ECNBA, was constituted to serve.”
Akpata, one of the leading candidates for the office, in a protest letter to ECNBA, warned of “looming disenfranchisement of voters and possible manipulation” of the elections.
The three-page letter to the electoral committee by the former NBA Section on Business Law, NBA-SBL, Chairman, was entitled: “The urgent need to avert the looming disenfranchisement of voters and possible manipulation of the forthcoming NBA 2020 elections.”
In the letter, he said: “I am constrained to register respectfully my reservations concerning the persistent issues affecting the voters’ register and verification process, in three major areas, including seriously flawed final voters’ list, frustrating and cumbersome verification process, and opacity regarding the technology and modalities for the elections.
“The general opacity regarding the conduct of the forthcoming elections, while I am keen to see that the elections are free, fair and transparent. The realities surrounding the electoral process presently, with respect, do not suggest that this would be the case, as I explain below.
“The final voters register, as published by the ECNBA, is fraught with tell-tale duplicity of names. While the final voters’ list contains both duplicated and non-existent names, I am informed that it omits a significant number of NBA members who paid their BPF and Branch Dues on time.”
On the verification exercise, Akpata said: “It appears to have the effect of preventing prospective voters from exercising their franchise.
“In many cases, it takes days for verification emails to be sent, while some members simply do not get verified no matter how many times they try.
“More distressing is that the NBA portal on which the verification exercise is to be conducted appears not to be secure and can be easily manipulated.
“A report, from an IT consultancy firm recruited by me to assess the vulnerability of the NBA portal, shows clearly that the portal is extremely porous and has serious vulnerabilities, which could be exploited by anyone to manipulate the process in favour of or against particular candidates.”