Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) has asked an Abuja High Court to strike out the suit filed by Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN) challenging his election.
Gadzama is praying the court to nullify the election for being characterised by malpractices and to order a fresh poll.
But, Mahmoud, through his counsel Paul Erokoro (SAN), said Gadzama did not first channel his complaints to the NBA Dispute Resolution Committee before suing.
“This suit has not complied with the requirements of due process. The condition-precedent to the commencement of this suit was not fulfilled,” Mahmoud said.
In a supporting affidavit deposed to by Kingsley Odey, a lawyer in the law firm of Paul Erokoro & Co, Mahmoud said that it was the duty of the Dispute Resolution Committee to hear appeals and resolve disputes amongst aggrieved members.
“The plaintiff never filed any complaint before the NBA Dispute Resolution Committee challenging the conduct or outcome of the said NBA election,” said the NBA president.
Mahmoud said Gadzama’s suit was, therefore, premature and robs the court of jurisdiction.
“We submit that this Honourable Court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain this action, given that the suit is premature, having regards to Section 16 of the NBA Constitution as amended in 2015.
“We submit that the plaintiff’s claims are unmeritorious and we humbly urge this Honourable Court to so hold.
“It would be in the interest of justice to strike out the plaintiff’s suit,” Mahmoud prayed.
Gadzama told the court that he polled 2,963 votes in the election rather than the 2,384 announced by the electoral committee.
He said Mahmoud, who was said to have won the election with 3,055 votes, actually polled 2,465.
Gadzama, in his statement of claim, said: “The Plaintiff avers that contrary to the result declared by the eight Defendant (Mr. Kenneth Mozia (SAN), Chairman, Electoral Committee of the NBA), at the close of voting, at 12:00 midnight on Sunday, 31st July, 2016, the result of the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election as it relates to the office/position of the President, as collated from and contained on the official voting domain/platform was as follows: Joe-Kyari Gadzama, 2,963; Abubakar B. Mahmoud, 2,465.”
Gadzama said he consulted ICT experts who, with the aid of advanced reporting tools, accessed the stack-trace, logs and other database files on the host server of the voting system.
He said it was discovered that the election portal was set up on more than one domain, contrary to established standards and international best practices.
Besides, he said there were multiple administrators/webmasters who accessed the backend of the portal and remained active throughout the period the voting lasted, contrary to established standards and international best practices.
Gadzama alleged that there was continuous manipulation of data on the system throughout the period the voting lasted, which he said compromised the integrity of the outcome.
“Voters were casting their votes on two different portals/domains, contrary to the Election Guidelines released by the ECNBA and international best practices. It amounts to, if voting was to be by manual ballot, different voters casting their ballots in two different ballot boxes but for the same office,” Gazdama said.
Defendants are NBA trustees, Including Abdullahi Ibrahim (San), Chief Wole Olanipekun (San), Thompson Joseph Onomigho Okpoko (San), Chief Priscilla Kuye, Alhaji Murtala Aminu And Chief Anthony O. Mogbo.
Others are the Incorporated Trustees of NBA, Chairman, NBA Electoral Committee Mr. Ken Mozia (SAN), Mr. Oluwaseun Ajoba (Secretary, NBA Electoral Committee) electoral committee members Hajia Safiya Balarabe, Mrs Amaka Ezeno, Mrs. Eucharia Pepple, Grace Infotech Limited, NBA president MR. Augustine Alegeh (SAN) and Mahmoud.
Gadzama is seeking a declaration that the election was in total violation and disregard of the mandatory provisions of the NBA Constitution 2015, Election Guidelines set down for the said Election fell short of established standards and international best practices, thereby making the said Election null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
Gadzama is seeking an order nullifying and setting aside the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election as it relates to the office/position of the President held on the 30th and 31st July, 2016 which purportedly returned the 15th Defendant as the President.
He also wants an order directing the first to seventh defendants to set up a newly constituted Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) which will issue Guidelines and conduct a fresh 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election as it relates to the office/position KEYof the President.
Gadzama is also praying for an order that the election as it relates to the office/position of the President should be held through Electronic voting in all branches of the NBA or at least at the three (3) zonal levels established by the NBA Constitution, 2015 and that results should be collated at branch or zonal levels and transmitted to the ECNBA Secretariat for final announcement.