NBA’s President, Olumide Akpata
The President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Olumide Akpata, has appointed new National Election Appeals Committee (NBA-NEAC) to receive and determine complaints and disputes (petition) from candidates, who took part in the recent elections.
The fresh appointment followed resignation of all NBA-NEAC members initially appointed to handle petitions regarding the conduct of election into the National Executive Committee of the NBA and the General Council of the Bar (GCB), which was held July 16, 2022.
Three presidential candidates contested the election won by Yakubu Maikyau (SAN). In line with the provisions of Section 14(1)(L) of the NBA Constitution 2021 (as amended) Akpata had set up the NBA-NEAC with the mandate to, amongst other responsibilities, receive and determine complaints and disputes (petition) from candidates, who took part in the election.
But Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN), one of the presidential candidates, who lost, in a letter to Akpata, informed him that he would not approach the NBA-NEAC for redress due to concerns on its neutrality.
The erstwhile Appeals Committee members, in their resignation letter dated July 30, 2022, stated that it was to pave the way for a new National Election Appeals Committee to be constituted.
However, in a statement signed by NBA president, he said a new committee has been appointed. Members of the new committee are: the former Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) as Chairman, former president of the NBA, Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), member and Cecilia Madueke as Secretary.
“The new Appeals Committee will have Mr. Rotimi Ogunyemi as its resident expert on IT and Mr. Olumide Babalola as counsel. Considering the lapse of the period of 10 days (from the date of announcement of the election results) allowed by the defunct Appeals Committee for the filing of election petitions, the new Appeals Committee, shall indicate the time within which petitions may be filed following this announcement.
“The new Appeals Committee is empowered to direct, at the request of a petitioner, or in its discretion, an independent audit of the July 2022 elections, if the justice of the matter requires it, or if it would be necessary to further entrench confidence in the process,” Akpata explained.
He, therefore, expressed his gratitude to members of the Mrs. Funmi Roberts-led committee, who resigned their appointments, for accepting to serve the association.
“The circumstances leading to their resignation are most unfortunate, yet the moral high ground that they have taken will forever be remembered and appreciated,” he stated.
Gadzama, in a letter to Akpata, signed by Chukwudi Oli and O. E. Oluwabiyi, his Director-General and Admin Officer respectively, had stated that he would not be exploring the option of approaching the committee on the grounds that some members of the committee and the Chairperson, Mrs. Roberts, are “more of supporters of Maikyau.”
The team also said they doubted the neutrality of former NBA National Officer and Appeals Committee member, Mr Okey Ohagba, saying that he “was an active coordinator in Port Harcourt for Maikyau.”
They again alleged that another member of the Appeals Committee, Mrs Huwaila Muhammed Ibrahim, “actively and openly posted contents on her Facebook platform projecting Maikyau.”
The group lamented:” The refusal of the ECNBA to allow an election audit, which would have examined the Election/Result logs and the platform for the election as requested by our candidate’s agent, Andrew Agbo-Madaki in his letter dated Saturday, July 16, 2022 further renders our cause a herculean task, if not an impossible one before the Committee, whose duty is essentially fact-finding.”
Following this complaint, the entire committee members resigned, paving the way for the constitution of a fresh body of arbiters.