NBA election was rigged-Emeka Ngige

Main opposition candidate in the just concluded Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) election, Emeka Ngige, has faulted the outcome of the election.

Mr Ngige made this known in a statement he signed and released in Lagos.

He alleged that the election held in Abuja on Tuesday was seriously manipulated and rigged to truncate the true wishes of the delegates.

He specifically accused the outgoing President of the NBA, Joseph  Daudu and the electoral committee  of manipulating voters’ register in favour of Okey Wali, adding that the displayed voters’ register contradicts the actual voters’ register used for the elections

According to him:“The National Executive Committee (NEC) list was manipulated to include non-NEC members and even those who are constitutionally disqualified from being NEC members.

He cited Mrs. Ranti Bosede Daudu and Mr. Paul “Tunde” Daudu, wife and son of the incumbent NBA President, J. B. Daudu who he says were smuggled in as ‘NEC members’ without the mandatory approval of the NEC as required by the NBA Constitution.

Mr. Ngige says “Given the gross and programmed irregularities that attended the delegates election, the NBA has been placed in a most difficult and uncomfortable position in its mission to promote the rule of law.

He wondered “What moral right the NBA leadership now or in the future would have to criticize INEC in the event of electoral malpractices?”.

Mr. Ngige however concluded that he will not pursue legal redress towards asserting the will of the electorate but warned of the grave dangers ahead if urgent steps are not taken by all NBA members from reclaiming the association from those he tagged as hawks.

He however said he will not seek redress in a court of law ” I have been under immense pressure from my supporters, stakeholders and concerned Nigerians to pursue legal redress towards asserting the will of the electorate. While I respect such position, moreso as this will check a recurrence, I believe that this line of action may throw the NBA into serious crisis and distraction, reminiscent of the 1992 crises which started in Port Hacourt”.

Mr. Okechukwu Wali won the election with 688 votes to Emeka Ngige’s 449 and the third contestant, Blessing Ukiri, polled 2.

Read the full press statement below:

I am compelled to note serious manipulations and grave anomalies in the just concluded Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) biennial Delegates Conference that was held in Abuja to elect national officers.

May I state that I was a candidate for the post of president in the said elections. Permit me to further state that the entire process for the elections were marred by irregularities and gross abuse of the electoral process, all aimed to achieve a desired outcome.

It is noteworthy that, given my deep concerns that the electoral process might be rigged to truncate the true wishes of the delegates, I wrote to the General Secretary of the NBA, Mr. Olumuyiwa Akinboro on 28th June 2012 requesting especially for a copy of the Delegates/Voters List.  The letter was duly acknowledged by the Secretariat. The list was never issued to me by the current NBA leadership.

In my bulk messaging alerts to members, I equally raised alarm on several occasions that even 48 hours to the elections, the Delegates List was still shrouded in secrecy. The list was eventually released for public scrutiny barely 24 hours to voting. True to our worries, the displayed list was riddled with serious anomalies, irregularities and contradictions.

Even more worrisome is the fact that the displayed voters’ register totally contradicts the actual voters’ register used for the elections. A few examples will suffice.

1. The National Executive Committee (NEC) list was manipulated to include non-NEC members and even those who are constitutionally disqualified from being NEC members. For example, Mrs. Ranti Bosede Daudu and Mr. Paul “Tunde” Daudu, wife and son respectively of the incumbent NBA President, J. B. Daudu (NBA), were smuggled in as ‘NEC members’ without the mandatory approval by NEC as required by the NBA Constitution. In fact, Mr. Tunde Daudu is less than 10 years at the Bar and is therefore disqualified from becoming a NEC member.

2.     The total figures of delegates for some branches perceived to be favourable to the adjudged winner of the presidential election were reduced in the displayed voters’ register to avoid being queried by other aspirants while the actual voters’ register used for the elections was padded with additional names to favour the adjudged winner of the presidential race. An example is Port Harcourt Branch which had only 28 members on the displayed list while additional 15 names were added into the actual voters’ register to bring the Port Harcourt list to a whopping 42.

3.     Names of deceased persons from Port Harcourt branch were added to the voters’ register. Examples are Chief Nwobidike Nwanodi, SAN and Chief C. A. B. Akparanta, SAN, both deceased.

4.     Some members included as NEC members under the “special interest groups” category are constitutionally disqualified from being NEC members by virtue of the mandatory minimum 10-year post-call requirement for membership. For example, while Mr. Chidi Ezenwafor was called to the Bar on 21st May, 2008 (a mere five years at the Bar), Mr. Monday Adjeh was called to the Bar in November 2005. Their inclusion violates Section 9(a)(v) of the NBA Constitution.

5.     Some names were duplicated in the voters’ register, giving room for impersonation of such candidates – moreso when the pictures of some of the duplicated delegates were missing from the list. Instances include names such as Mr. Dele Oye who appeared under Category F/Co-opted NEC Members and Abuja Branch as well as Mr. Anthony Ani who appeared under Category F/Co-opted NEC Members and Category E/Benchers.

6.     Some branches whose delegates were perceived to be favourable to my candidacy had their number of delegates slashed without any explanation and without an opportunity to query such arbitrariness.

7.     Some delegates who were perceived to be favourably disposed to my candidacy could not find their names on the voters’ register.

8.     The voters’ register was padded with strange names, moreso when such names were bereft of accompanying photographs.

9.     The displayed voters’ register was not properly numbered, leading to certain tranches of numbers missing from the list. For example, numbers 31 to 39, 85 to 90 and 178 to 180 were missing from the displayed voters’ register, giving rise to posers on what might have happened.

It is apparent from the foregoing that the voters’ register was grossly manipulated to favour the presumed winner of the presidential election. It is indeed highly unfortunate that the Daudu Administration cannot conduct a successful, free and fair election for mere ‘1471’ delegates.

Given the gross and programmed irregularities that attended the delegates election, the NBA has been placed in a most difficult and uncomfortable position in its mission to promote the rule of law. What moral right has the NBA leadership now or in the future to criticize INEC in the event of electoral malpractices? It is now apparent that NBA’s programmes aimed to effect electoral reforms are a mere charade aimed to hoodwink the unwary.

I have been under immense pressure from my supporters, stakeholders and concerned Nigerians to pursue legal redress towards asserting the will of the electorate. While I respect such position, moreso as this will check a recurrence, I believe that this line of action may throw the NBA into serious crisis and distraction, reminiscent of the 1992 crises which started in Port Hacourt. The NBA is bigger than all of us. I have decided to take the moral high ground than descend into the arena of malfeasance with my traducers and persons bent on turning the NBA into their personal patrimony and oligarchy.

I must however warn of the grave dangers ahead if urgent steps are not taken by all NBA members from reclaiming our cherished association from these hawks. The NBA must remain a voice for the voiceless masses of our people; it must be wrested from the conniving clique so as to act as a bulwark against tyranny and oppression. I am ready and willing to be a part of this movement, even as I call on the incoming NBA presidency to urgently initiate electoral reforms towards ensuring that our elections reflect the real wishes of the delegates. This is the least it should do, being a beneficiary of a grossly flawed process.

Permit me to note that I have no grudges whatsoever with my brother silk, Mr. Okey Wali, SAN. My concerns are entirely against the way and manner the electoral process was mindlessly manipulated by the outgoing leadership.

I thank my numerous supporters for their unflinching confidence and trust. Let me assure you all that the struggle continues. You can always count on me.

Thank you and God bless our NBA.