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NBA Elections: I Stand By My Position, Says Ngige

The presidential candidate in the recently concluded Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) election, Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN) insisted at the weekend that the election was flawed, saying the response by the NBA leadership has failed to answer the posers raised by him.

The presidential candidate in the recently concluded Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) election, Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN) insisted at the weekend that the election was flawed, saying the response by the NBA leadership has failed to answer the posers raised by him.

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The NBA General Secretary, Mr. Olumuyiwa Akinboro had while addressing the press, attempted to debunk the allegations made by Ngige that the election was fraught with irregularities and manipulation. But Ngige described Akinboro’s response as “baseless and without merit,” saying the NBA scribe carefully avoided frontally addressing his allegations.

Debunking Akinboro’s claim that he conceded defeat in the presidential election, Ngige said: “Nothing can be further from the truth.” He said he merely shook hands and embraced Mr. Wali “and went my way. Even when journalists (including AIT) besieged me for my reaction, I told them that I would like to review the entire process before issuing an official statement. To now insinuate that my charitable gesture towards Mr. Wali amounted to conceding defeat or acknowledgement of the fairness of the election is highly mischievous.”

The presidential aspirant noted in a statement by his media aide, Emeka Nwadioke that “even if I had congratulated him (Wali) and subsequently discovered that the process was grievously manipulated, I am not estopped thereby from bringing such malfeasance to the attention of all stakeholders. Consequently, the shaking of hands with Mr. Wali is a non-issue.”

On the challenge by Akinboro that Ngige should furnish “hard, incontrovertible and unshakable evidence” to buttress his allegations, Ngige said it was incontrovertible that on 28th June, 2012 he wrote to Mr. Akinboro requesting for the official National Executive Committee (NEC) members list as well as the delegates list as submitted by the branch chairmen. “I must mention that when the letter was delivered to the NBA Secretariat, the desk officer refused to endorse the acknowledgement copy on the instruction of Mr. Akinboro,” he said. “It took my personal intervention for the acknowledgement copy to be endorsed. This explains why the General Secretary has not denied receiving my letter.”

While Mr. Akinboro had asserted that the General Secretary is not constitutionally empowered to release the delegates’ list to contestants, Ngige stated that the NBA Constitution “does not prohibit the General Secretary from issuing the delegates’ list to the aspirants.” He added that the matter equally revolved around global best practices whereby electoral agencies are required to show that the electoral process is manifestly transparent.  His words: “We are aware that even in the general elections, rigging starts with the voters’ register. This was why I kept insisting on the publication of the voters’ register or being furnished with same as a candidate. Subsequent events have now confirmed my fears.”

Ngige also poked holes in Akinboro’s contention that aspirants source for voters’ list from branch chairmen, saying that “the tradition is that the voters’ list as compiled is sent to all the branches for circulation to interested branch members. At any rate, why should the voters’ register be shrouded in secrecy if not that someone is up to some mischief?”

He stated that the assertion of the NBA that the General Secretary’s role in the electoral process had been taken over by the Electoral Committee “cannot be further from the truth.” According to him, both the NBA President J. B. Daudu, SAN and General Secretary had insisted that everything pertaining to the compilation and distribution of the list of accredited delegates lay with the General Secretary. “That was why the branch chairmen were directed to submit the delegates’ lists to the General Secretary and to no other person. For the General Secretary to now turn around and claim that his role had been taken over by the Electoral Committee is the height of mischief.”

On the contention that Mr. Paul Babatunde Daudu, the NBA Presient’s son, became a NEC member by virtue of his being the Secretary of Young Lawyers Forum (YLF), Ngige described this as “not only false but misleading.” He stated that the Chairman of YLF, Mr. Precious Igbuan was never co-opted into NEC by the NBA leadership. “That is why his name did not appear in the voters’ register as a co-opted member but as a delegate under Benin Branch, thereby making him a legitimate voter in the election.” Ngige argued that subsequent to the release of the NEC membership list by the NBA President at the Gombe NEC meeting of 24th – 26th November, 2010 Mr. Igbuan’s name continued to appear in the minutes of subsequent meetings as a mere “observer.” “It is therefore very clear that the inclusion of Mr. Paul Daudu in the voters’ register as a co-opted member is an exercise in illegality,” Ngige insisted.

Ngige also stated that the reference to Mr. Opayinka as a co-opted member and voter was misconceived. “The records at my disposal clearly show that Mr. Opayinka was never on the voters’ register for 2008 elections because he was then not a NEC member, notwithstanding that he was the YLF Chairman. It was not until Chief Rotimi Akeredolu’s tenure that he was duly appointed a NEC member and subsequently a delegate to the 2010 elections.

Maintaining his position that Mrs. Ranti Daudu, wife of the NBA President, is not a NEC member, Ngige said: “From the minutes of NEC meetings at my disposal, she was not a NEC member until the voters’ register surfaced 24 hours to the elections, clothing her with NEC membership as a co-opted member.” He added that the General Secretary had refused to incorporate the names of the co-opted NEC members at the Gombe meeting in the minutes. “This is apparently to give room for the kind of manipulations that we now complain about. The President is free to nominate his friends, cronies and minions to NEC, but this must not be done whimsically. There must be NEC approval endorsing such nominations. This has not been done, as can be confirmed from all the minutes.”

Speaking further on the manipulation of the NEC list, the respected senior advocate explained that “the General Secretary is conveniently avoiding the issue. We specifically mentioned the transfer of names of 20 Senior Advocates from the list of co-opted members in the voters’ register, leaving the list of co-opted members at 100. Again, if you remove at least 14 Benchers from the list of co-opted members, the list cannot be more than 86. Therefore, it is now beyond doubt that the 100 names representing list of co-opted members contains names of non-NEC members.”

Ngige further stated that it was “incorrect” that all the names submitted by branch chairmen were included in the voters’ register. “The names of Messrs Ikenna Egbuna, William Akika and Aham Ejelam, to name a few, were duly submitted to the NBA secretariat, they transported themselves to Abuja only to find their names missing from the voters’ register,” he observed.

He added that contrary to Mr. Akinboro’s assertion, Port Harcourt Branch had only 28 delegates on the displayed voters’ list while 42 delegates voted, as contained in the voters’ register. Also, Abuja had 35 delegates on the displayed voters’ list “while the General Secretary admitted that 45 delegates actually voted during the election. It was only Lagos that had 43 delegates on the register while 43 voted.”

He debunked NBA’s claim that the list of SANs was sourced from the Supreme Court, saying the list was sourced from a recent publication entitled Compendium on Senior Advocates of Nigeria (2nd edition) published by GEM Communications Resources, “moreso when the striking resemblance of the photographs in the voters’ register and the said compendium is glaringly unmistakable.” Continuing, Ngige said “The alibi that the death of these SANs’ was not brought to the attention of the NBA secretariat is blatant falsehood, as the said publication clearly indicated their deceased status. It is equally on record that the NBA was duly represented at the valedictory sessions for the deceased SANs. It is therefore false that their statuses were not known to the NBA secretariat, moreso when they died in May and the register was compiled two months later in July.”

Ngige stated that while the deceased SANs could not have voted, “We assert that such deceased persons were most likely to have been impersonated, moreso as the General Secretary has shown a propensity to mislead the public as to the actual number of those that voted at the election.”

He said there were no mechanisms by the NBA to check multiple voting, moreso as virtually all the “suspect delegates” had no photographs attached to their names. “At any rate, the non-inclusion of these photographs is a breach by the NBA leadership of the electoral rules it issued which required that every delegate must submit his photograph for inclusion in the voters’ register,” Ngige concluded.

Emeka Nwadioke, Esq.
Director of Publicity
Emeka Ngige Campaign Organisation

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