Paul Usoro

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday ratified the election of Paul Usoro (SAN) as the President-elect of the association.

Usoro was last Monday declared winner of the NBA presidential election by the Electoral Committee of the association, ECNBA.

The president-elect polled 4,509 votes to beat Chief Arthur Obi Okafor (SAN), who scored 4,423 votes and Prof Ernest Ojukwu (SAN), who got 3,313 votes.

Also in the election, Stanley Chidozie won the race for First Vice President with 6,188 votes, while Dada Olayemi was elected Second Vice President with 4,242 votes.

Taidi Gunu won the post of General Secretary with 3,574 votes, beating Mobolaji Idris who polled 1,993 votes and Balogun Oyeyemi who got 1,630 votes.

However, Okafor and Ojukwu faulted the result, insisting that the election was rigged.

In a letter to the outgoing NBA president, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), Okafor rejected the result and called for a post-election audit.

He said: “I participated in the aforesaid election to conclusion. It is in my candid view that the election was rigged by which I was denied victory.

“In the course of the election, my team made complaints of obvious malpractices including harvesting of voters’ details using some funny email domains. These complaints were not attended to.

“I do hereby reject the result of the elections. Whilst considering various options open to me, I call for a participatory post-election audit of both the verification process and voting.”

On his part, Ojukwu, a former Law School Deputy Director-General, claimed that he contested against corruption, rigging and a skewed process, but said he would not challenge the result.

In a message to his supporters, he said: “Though a winner has emerged from this present contest, remember that we contested against corruption, massive vote buying, vote capture, rigging and a skewed process.

“These reasons make a challenge of the result important but because of my long and selfless commitment to regenerating the Bar, and the need not create tension in our legal profession, I shall not contest it.”

But the NEC yesterday described the election as free and fair, faulting the claims of irregularities by the two contenders.

A statement by the Chief of Staff of the outgoing president of the association, Muritala Abdulrasheed, said the NEC unanimously ratified the election.

The statement added that the motion was moved by Solomon Umoh (SAN) and seconded by Ferdinand Orbih (SAN).

It was gathered that following the ratification, Usoro was yesterday consequently given a Certificate of Return by the Chairman of ECNBA, Professor Auwal Yadudu.

The NBA NEC is the highest decision-making organ of the association.

The body comprises the past presidents of the association, vice presidents and secretaries-general and other senior lawyers.

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