- Awera lawyers did not adopt Gadzama, says Garungabas
By Alex Enumah in Abuja
As the election into various offices of the national body of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) begins to gather momentum, no fewer than 31 persons have shown interest in replacing the current President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh (SAN).
In all, a total of 14 positions would be contested for at the election.
Among those who have shown interest in contesting the forthcoming election of the association are renowned lawyer, Joe Gadzama (SAN) and A. B Mamoud (SAN) who are vying for the position of the NBA President.
Gadzama and others emerged at the formal opening of expression of interest/nomination form, which was done in the presence of aspirants, their representatives and observers at the NBA national headquarters, Abuja.
The Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Kenneth Mozia (SAN), who supervised the opening of the forms, assured the aspirants and members of the NBA that his committee would do its best in conducting not just a free, fair and credible election but one that would serve as a model for future elections in the country and beyond.
The chairman disclosed that the committee would immediately go through the forms and published the names of successful candidates, so that those with a special case can know what to do.
“I want to assure you all that the committee would do its best to provide a level playing ground for all contestants. The nomination forms that are been opened publicly is an attestation that we desire to be as transparent as possible.
“The next thing for us now is to go through the forms and publish the names of those that meet the requirement while those that have any complains can also know how to address them,” he said.
He disclosed further that the association is at the verge of compiling a comprehensive and credible voter register, and advised branches that have not been maintaining an effective register to be up to date to guide against being disenfranchised.
He disclosed that the committee plans to experiment with electronic voting at its NEC meeting in Benin, before the main election, adding that a further stakeholders’ meeting would be held where members can bring in their IT specialist to give more advise on the e-voting.
Mozia, while adding that the rules guiding the conducts of the election would be strictly upheld, however, stated that the guidelines would for the elections would be updated and uploaded on the platform (website) of the NBA and advised aspirants to endeavour to visit the website in order to be properly guided.
He observed that some candidates are already by their conducts running contrary to the electoral laws as well as the constitution of the association and warned that the committee would not hesitate to apply the law on any offender.
However, both aspirants and observers at the opening of the nominations form have commended the chairman and member s of the committee for restoring confidence in the NBA’s election.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Adegboyega Awomolo, who noted that the committee had been very transparent and careful in all its conducts, charged them not to relent in their efforts, adding that the NBA is a reflection of Nigeria and it must do everything to be the best.
“With what I am seeing here today, I am confident that this committee has taken the right steps that will make the NBA election a model for future elections in the country,” Awomolo said.
Meanwhile. the Secretary of Arewa Lawyers’ Forum and Attorney General of Jigawa State, Hon. Sani Garungabas, has emphatically denied claims by Gadzama that the forum adopted him as the only presidential candidate in the NBA election.
In a swift reaction to the rumoured adoption, Garungabas argued that there was no such adoption which was being stage-managed by a section of the executive committee members in conjunction with Gadzama which view does not enjoy the approval of the generality of the Arewa Lawyers’ Forum; and this was made clear in the meeting of the forum on January 29, 2016.
“This claim is fraudulent,” said Garungabas, “it is false and unfounded as we have not sat down at the executive to pick a candidate or adopt a candidate for the election. It is therefore a premeditated manoeuvre of the electoral procedure to snatch an endorsement that has not been given. No candidate should jump the gun. We are giving a level-playing field to the candidates.”
The South-West Lawyers’ Forum had also denied Gadzama’s claim that the forum had adopted him as the sole presidential candidate in the forthcoming elections of the NBA.
In a press release headlined: “We did not adopt any NBA presidential candidate …” – South-west (Yoruba) Lawyers’ Forum, the Secretary of the South-west Lawyers’ Forum, Adebola Lema categorically denied Gadzama’s claim, adding that he had attempted to muscle himself into the forum through the back-door, and such an attempt did not enjoy the approval of the executive members.