• Sunday, June 16, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Despite Akpata’s victory, reforms must be made now in NBA – Ubani

The recent national election of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has been trailed by controversy leading to agitations for reforms in the legal body by lawyers. Monday Ubani, immediate past vice chairman of the NBA in this exclusive interview with INIOBONG IWOK, speaks on the election and the reforms that need to be carried out. Excerpt:

What is your take on the recent NBA election?

Let me be sincere with you, if what we gathered from social media and from the whole NBA is anything to go by, if you conduct that election two or three times Akpata would still emerge. That is because the majority of the young lawyers’ constituency wanted a change from the issue of having a SAN to a non-SAN as president. Also, the memo that was written by a certain Senior Advocate of Nigeria did not help matters; it makes a lot of them want change. They were ready to vote a non-SAN in that position to carry out some of the complaints of NBA, welfare of lawyers and what people are benefiting from the NBA. So, they now feel it is high time we gave a non-SAN opportunity to see what he can do in the next two years. So, the sentiments of the young lawyers were for Akpata to the extent that if you cancel it and conduct another, he may still win.

But one of the candidates said the result should be cancelled because it was manipulated?

Related News

Akpata winning does not mean that there were no flaws; there were some of them in the system. Especially on the requirement of the law on the publishing of names of the voters before election it was done in a few hours to election, while the law says twenty or more days. Another flaw was the issue of the Diaspora branch; I don’t think the constitution recognised that. The third one was the removal of the branch names; there was no good reason why they were no more there. Why were some names omitted? Who pays their practice fees on time? Who pays their branch fees on time? Why were their names removed in the final voting list? There are questions to be answered. The issues would be cleared and challenged if the voters’ names were published on time; but because it was a few hours to the election nobody could raise any objection to that which would have led to correction. And let us be sure that there is no interference in the e-voting process, that there is transparency in the voting process, we must make it hundred percent so that it would remove suspicion whatsoever.

But some lawyers have also complained about the clause that a member must previously hold a position as chairman or secretary of their local branches to contest for NBA national office. What is your view?

Non-state executive aspires; we put that clause there so that when you are aspiring for the offices at the national level, you would have knowledge of the working of the NBA. For you to be the president of the NBA; you can’t just come from anywhere without having any idea of the bar. We said you should be a member of the NEC to contest; it was not there for putting sake. You must have an idea of what the position is all about, when you have no knowledge or whatever, what would you do?

Those you want must have some responsibility in the bar before the president can be handed over to them. That is how I understand that clause. If we don’t have a free and fair election in the NBA, then we have no basis criticising and monitoring the national elections, in order to make sure that there is any doubt as to the fairness of the process. We don’t want all the time people go to court after the election. Like almost all the previous elections, we have had that process. But as for whether Akpata would have won? I think even if it was corrected from what I learnt, the majority of the lawyers were on Akpata, it does not mean the process was without its problems. The other candidates have their supporters who voted for them if the process was hundred per cent credible. But from my own view and like somebody who have been monitoring elections in the NBA over the years, his wining was not a shock like some of other elections that we have had over the years, where people we never expected won. But this one, before the election, fillers indicated that Akpata may carry the day; it does not take away the flaws discovered in the election.