With the emergence of Olumide Akpata as the new chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA); a former dean, Faculty of Law, Imo State University, Prof. Nnamdi Obiaraeri has slammed the conduct of the recently-concluded elections.
He described the NBA election as ‘predictable’.
Further, he has implored the new leadership to focus on improving on the welfare of young lawyers.
Obiaraeri made these suggestions via an interview on Saturday, August 8.
The professor stated that championing the emancipation of the judiciary from the suffocating influences of both the executive and legislature among others; should be amongst the mandate of the Akpata-led NBA.
1st News had reported that Akpata emerged winner of the NBA national elections; after defeating two other contestants who are Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).
The victory makes him the NBA’s first non-SAN President in years.
Meanwhile, Akpata won the election with a total of 9,891 votes of the total 18,256 ballots cast; while his closest rival, Babatunde Ajibade (SAN) polled 4,328 votes and Dele Adesina (SAN) polled 3,982 votes.
Obiaraeri lamented the plight of the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA); which he says was never given a chance to conduct a free and fair election.
“In the conduct of the 2020 NBA national election; cynics never gave the ECNBA a chance to “perform magic” as the ominous signs of failure were visibly hovering around.
“Beginning with incomplete registration of lawyers duly cleared by their respective branches; to injection of ghost names in the voters’ list; to the epileptic online voting process for accredited voters; and to outright disenfranchisement of thousands of eligible or verified voters; everything seemed to suggest that the 2020 NBA general election was programmed to fail or that its outcome will be marooned in controversy.
“Consequently, not a few lawyers predicted that the 2020 NBA Election is incapable of being free and fair or any different from the contentious outcomes of the two previous online elections which held in 2016 and 2018 respectively,” he explained.
According to him, the flawed process that sprung Akpata as the winner is being challenged by Dele Adesina; who was one of the candidates in the NBA elections.
“It is public knowledge that the ECNBA has declared Olumide Akpata Esq as the winner and elected President of the 2020 NBA Presidential election ahead of two other contestants, Dr Babatunde Ajibade SAN and Dele Adesina SAN.
“While in the interest of a United Bar, Ajibade has congratulated the declared winner of the Presidential contest irrespective of glaring irregularities that characterised the said election; on his part, Adesina has openly rejected the result announced by the ECNBA dismissing it as a monumental fraud and a complete embarrassment to the legal profession.
“Adesina is livid with rage and has petitioned the Board of Trustees of the NBA demanding total cancellation of the said election citing constitutional breaches, disenfranchisement of eligible voters, fraudulent manipulations, and other forms of irregularities.”
In a bid to unite the body; Obiaraeri appealed to Akpata to ensure all the ranks are pacified in order to move the association forward.
He further criticised the ECNBA for the shoddy electoral process; whilst suggesting ways of avoiding such nasty eventuality in future elections.
“The high level of impunity and mindless constitutional breaches by the ECNBA in the conduct of the 2020 NBA general election is not anything different from what any of the INEC registered political parties will do in the conduct of their respective party primary elections.
“Truth be told, the ECNBA did a sloppy or haphazard job in the conduct of the 2020 NBA general election.
“This is, therefore, to clearly advise the newly elected President of the NBA; Olumide Akpata, and his entire executive members to reach out immediately to all other aspirants and the Elders and members of the Bar across the country to enable them to have a United Bar to preside over as NBA officers when they assume office shortly.”