Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Less than 24 hours to the general election of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Joe-Kyari Gadzama Campaign Organisation has asked the NBA leadership to shift the date of the polls.
The campaign group cited lack of transparency and shoddy preparations by the Electoral Committee of Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA),
It also accused the NBA President, Augustine Alegeh (SAN), of openly supporting and canvassing for votes for one of the candidates in the election.
The Gadzama campaign organisation, which spoke through one of its members, Prof. Maxwell Gidado (SAN), told a press conference in Abuja yesterday that there was the need to shift the election so as to accommodate all the updates in the voters register and to ensure that eligible voters were not disenfranchised in the process.
Gidado said the introduction of the “universal suffrage” for the election was commendable because it would give every lawyer equal participation in the choice of the NBA leadership but, regretted that the noble idea was being negated by certain actions and/or inactions.
According to him, the J.K Gadzama Campaign Organisation has chronicled the anomalies and brought them to the attention of both the ECNBA and the NBA president for necessary correction to guarantee a free and fair elections.
Gidado said the NBA was supposed to act as the conscience of the nation and to show examples especially in issues of democratic practices.
He however said the brazen show of preference for and serious capital and human resource investment into promoting one candidate over another by the NBA president undermined the integrity of the entire elections.
“The president’s actions and utterances at several fora and on national television whereby he openly canvassed support for his preferred candidate, vilified and cast aspersions on the other, dampens confidence of objective-minded lawyers to repose confidence in the ability of his appointed ECNBA to deliver free, fair and credible elections,” he pointed out.
Gidado said many members of the association who have met the basic requirement for voting (i.e. payment one’s Bar Practising Fee and Branch Due for 2016 on or before March 31, 2016) still did not have their names captured in the Voters Register which was uploaded on the NBA website since June 22, 2016 even though such names were forwarded by the Branches to the National Secretariat.
He said: “There are instances of multiple registrations; names appearing in multiple branches; names of persons appearing in branches whose chairmen have dis-avowed, etc.
“It is alarming that as at today when the election is just two days away, the final Voters Register is not yet ready. This is in breach of Article 2.3 (d) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution 2015.
“The total sum of the foregoing is that the ECNBA is not yet ready for this election and it is better to address all these issues and for the President to allay these justifiable fears before the election in order to prevent a repeat of the sad event of 1992 in Port Harcourt especially as this year’s Annual General Conference (AGC) is also scheduled to hold in that same city,” he said.