By G9ija

The Arewa Young Lawyers Forum (Arewa YLF) has proposed that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) abolish electronic voting in subsequent national polls.

It said e-voting was introduced to promote transparency and fairness, but it seemed to have done more harm than good following allegations of data manipulation, rigging, as well as the tension, acrimony and dissatisfaction it has generated.

The forum suggested that e-voting be replaced with secret ballot system for national elections to be conducted at NBA branches.  The results would then be forwarded to the NBA headquarters for final collation after same had been placed on a server created for the purpose.

The Arewa YLF stated this as part of its October 29 recommendations to the NBA Electoral Reform And Audit Committee inaugurated by the President, Olumide Akpata, on September 20.

The committee, which will identify “issues, failures or irregularities with the process and conduct of the 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections of the national officers of the NBA” has received memoranda from members, branches of the NBA and other stakeholders.

Its audit of the elections of National Officers of the NBA of 2016, 2018 and 2020 and recommendations for reform of the electoral process, is expected on December 31.

The Arewa YLF’s recommendations signed by its Chairman Olayinka Jimoh, praised the NBA “on the giant strides taken in the direction of reforming the association’s elections, as a way of promoting transparency and fair play in subsequent NBA elections.”

It commended the NBA “for the innovations replete in its electoral process, especially with the introduction of universal suffrage, which has, in no small measure, imbued lawyers regardless of years of call with a clear sense of belonging and ownership of the NBA Project. This is a far cry from what was in existence until the recent past.”

It conceded that e-voting is “the way to go”, but “has only succeeded in promoting mutual distrust and ill will as candidates after elections in the previous NBA electoral process have handed down strictures even as they have noised their dissatisfaction with the process.”

In view of this the group made six recommendations to the NBA Electoral Reform and Audit Committee.

They are: “The Arewa YLF strongly proposes the abolition of electronic voting. This is because experience has shown that this mode of voting is highly susceptible to manipulation as many believe the data uploaded to the site is always programmed and preconfigured to achieve predetermined results and as such has always given undue advantage to few candidates.

“The Arewa YLF supports secret ballot system of voting with the NBA national elections to be conducted at NBA branches and results to be forwarded to the NBA headquarters for final collation after same have been placed on a server created for the purpose of the election by the NBA.

“The Arewa YLF proposes an ECNBA to be constituted by seven members appointed by the NBA President at the national level and another three members for each branch as members of the ECNBA to conduct national election at the branch level.

“Further to the aforesaid, the Arewa YLF proposes that each candidate for the national elections should be allowed to appoint agents at every branch to monitor the conduct of the national election at the branch level.

“The results of election conducted at the branch level should be forwarded to the NBA headquarters for final collation.

“The Arewa YLF proposes that universal suffrage be retained as all legal practitioners are equal and critical stakeholders in the NBA.”