*“WE HAVE NOT SEEN ANY DEMONSTRATION OF THE TECHNOLOGY TO BE USED FOR THE ELECTIONS”- AKPATA EXPRESSES CONCERN TO ECNBA OVER UPCOMING ELECTIONS
With the National elections of the NBA only 10 days away, frontline Presidential candidate in the elections, Olumide Akpata, has written the Electoral Committee of the NBA on the problems of disenfranchisement of voters and the possible manipulation of the forthcoming elections. Our correspondents understand that the letter was sent to the Electoral Committee in the early hours of Monday 20 July 2020.
In his 3-page letter, Akpata thanked the ECNBA for their good intent and efforts towards conducting credible elections into the national offices of the NBA. He also wished them success in the process. He went ahead to outline issues he had identified that could either lead to lawyers being disenfranchised or the election outcome being manipulated by mischief makers.
He mentioned the fact that the final voter’s list was flawed with anomalies, including duplicity of names, inclusion of non-persons, such as the infamous “Opening Balance” and failure to include names of people who had paid their Bar Practicing Fees and Branch dues as at March 31 2020. The letter read in part “It also raises the question of why and how such obvious duplications were even possible. There is even the now notorious and likely non-existent “Opening Balance” whose year of call is, unsurprisingly, not indicated. One wonders how that entry got into the voters’ list if, indeed, the list exclusively contains names of members who paid their Bar Practising Fees (BPF) and Branch Dues no later than 31 March 2020”
He also mentioned the frustrating and cumbersome verification process, highlighting how it appears to have prevented prospective voters from exercising their franchise, rather than enabled them to, as in many cases they experienced technical issues which were no fault of theirs. He wrote: “Even more distressing is the fact that the NBA portal on which the verification exercise is being conducted appears not to be secure and can be easily manipulated. A couple of days ago, I got a particularly alarming complaint from a supporter: “…they have been messing my portal up, today my branch will change and the next, my date of birth or my state of origin. Someone has access to the back end to mess up…You don’t get email when it is touched from the back end.” Since then, I have read similar complaints on various social media platforms”.
Akpata stated that, refusing to take the complaints of several lawyers at face value, he engaged the services of an IT security firm to carry out investigation into the integrity of the portal. He enclosed the report in his letter, which showed, amongst other things, that the portal is porous and has several vulnerabilities which mischief makers can exploit for or against a candidate.
Akpata went further to highlight his concern with the opaque nature of disclosure by the ECNBA of the technology and modalities for the elections, stating, “We have not seen any demonstration or test-run of the proposed technology and are therefore not able to ascertain that it would work at all, to say nothing of guaranteeing free, fair and transparent elections.”
He indicated that he had refrained from writing the ECNBA for a long time out of deep respect for the leadership and members, but noted that it was no longer okay to be silent in the interest of the voting public. He expressed hope that the issues he highlighted in his letter will be attended to. He urged the ECNBA to publish a complete and accurate list of eligible voters, while releasing a statement from Access Bank showing members who paid their Bar Practising Fees by 31 March 2020. He also asked that the verification process be simplified and made more secure. He requested that the technology to be deployed for the elections be disclosed and adequately secured to ensure integrity of the polls.
Read the letter here: