There has been a flurry of reactions following the publication by the ECNBA of the Interim/Provisional Voters Register for the NBA 2020 National Election
(“ECNBA Statement No. 005”) on the 30th day of May 2020, which has made it imperative and necessary for me to clarify and reassure all our members that
no Lawyer with proof of eligibility to vote will be excluded and/or
disenfranchised howsoever from the elections. However there must be proof of
eligibility to vote based on the provisions of the Nigerian Bar Association
Constitution, 2015 (as amended) (“NBA Constitution”).
As I mentioned in the ECNBA Statement No. 005, the NBA Constitution
stipulates two main requirements for eligibility, to wit, payments of Bar
Practice Fee (“BPF”) and Branch Dues. In regard to the Bar Practice Fees, all
payments are made to the designated Bank Account and there cannot be any
disputation over the list of compliant members. In similar fashion and to
ensure absolute transparency and credibility, the ECNBA has insisted on proof
of payment of Branch dues from the branches in the form of Bank Statements,
tellers or the like.
Most of the Branches inexplicably, are reluctant to release to the ECNBA their
Bank Statements or tellers or to provide such other credible documentary
evidence in proof of Branch dues payments by its eligible members. They would
rather that the ECNBA take the words of the Branch Executives and the lists
produced by those Executives some of which merely stated dates of such
purported payments without more. The ECNBA is at pains to explain that this
is not about trust; it is all about such proof of Branch dues payments that
would clothe the electoral process with absolute credibility and transparency.
Without such credible proof of payments, the ECNBA opens itself up to all sorts
of accusations including but not limited to importation or exclusion of names
into or from the Register and it would be impossible to transparently and
credibly address and resolve such accusations.
We therefore respectfully urge all the Branches that are yet to submit such
proof of payments of Branch Dues by the eligible voters in their respective
Branches, in the form of Bank Statements, tellers or the like, to please do so
immediately and not later than the 6th day of June 2020. In the absence of
such credible proof, the ECNBA has no choice but to depend on the only
evidence of payments that it has i.e. the names of members who have applied
for and were issued stamps. Stamps applications are routed through NBA
Branches and, we know that no Branch Executive will ratify any application for
stamps where the lawyer is in default of his or her Branch dues. That, for the
ECNBA, is sufficient and credible proof of the said payment coupled with the
fact that those Branch dues payments receipts are usually and required to be
attached to the applications for stamps in support thereof.
We further urge Branches to submit their lists of eligible members in the
format stated in the Statement earlier published with full particulars of
members as requested.
Once again, the ECNBA wishes to assure all Lawyers that, by God’s special
grace, it would conduct a free, fair, transparent and credible NBA 2020
National Elections that would be a standard, not only for the NBA but for the
Nigerian polity. In particular, no eligible voter, with proof of eligibility, will be
disenfranchised howsoever and the time to correct any such perceived anomaly
is now, to wit, by prevailing on Branches that are yet to submit credible proof of
payments of the Branch Dues by eligible voters in their respective Branches to
do so now. Furthermore we implore eligible members whose names were
omitted, wrongly spelt or any other correction should bring same to the
attention of the ECNBA through their branch Chairmen and not individually.
We shall continue to count on the cooperation of all lawyers to ensure a
successful and rancor free electoral process.
Dated this 1st day of June 2020