Earlier this week, the famous case of JOE-KYARI GADZAMA (SAN), OFR (Also known as and called Gadzama Joe-Kyari, J-K Gadzama, SAN and Kyari, Joe Gadzama) v. INCORPORATED TRUSTEES OF NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION (NBA) and eight others with SUIT NO: FCT/HC/CV/2369/2016 continued for hearing before the court, and the news hit the media about an objection to the admissibility of DVDs by the Defendants that was overruled by the court. But only few persons know exactly the declarations and orders demanded the court by the plaintiff.
This report will expose the declarations and orders as they are sought and a summary of the proceedings on Friday, 12th January, 2018 which is the day for the continuation of hearing; the day the said damaging evidences of DVDs were admitted in evidence before the court.
TheNigerialawyer recalls that Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN, a candidate for the office of the President in the Nigerian Bar Association national officers’election held on 30th and 31st July 2016, instituted an action challenging the outcome of the 2016 NBA national officers’election as it relates to the office of the President. The plaintiff had inter alia sought the following claims against the defendants as endorsed on the Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim filed on the 16th day of August, 2016:
A DECLARATION that the Defendants jointly and/or severally are bound by the provisions of the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association amended and adopted in August 2015 and must in all matters relating to, connected with the business and or affairs of the Association obey and give effect to the provisions thereof. He also claimed that the presidential election under the supervision of the 8th to 14th Defendants (now 2nd to 8th Defendants), 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. He also argued against the Internet voting mechanism, method and system adopted for the conduct of the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election saying it was not in conformity with the mandatory provisions of the NBA constitution 2015, in that all the pre-requisite preparations, obligations and duties provided for under the Constitution to guarantee free, fair, credible and transparent Electronic voting system were ignored, disregarded and or not complied with by the Defendants. A declaration was also sought that the election was fundamentally and incurably compromised by undue influence, overbearing, biased conduct and utterances of the 14th Defendant (Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN, immediate past President, Nigerian Bar Association) [now 8th Defendant] through the media and at Bar meetings before and during the Election and thereby robbed the conduct of the election of every element of impartiality, independence and transparency as required by established standards and international best practices.
Based on the foregoing therefore, some of the reliefs sought by the plaintiff are as follows:
AN ORDER of the Court 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 (now 9th Defendant) as president; AN ORDER directing the 1st to 7th Defendant (now 1st Defendant) to set up a newly constituted Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) which will issue guidelines and conduct a fresh 2016 NBA Election as it relates to the office/position of the President; AN ORDER of the Court that the 2016 NBA 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; AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the 8th to 12th (now 2nd to 6th) and 14th Defendants (now 8th Defendant) from swearing in and/or recognizing the 15th Defendant (now 9th Defendant) or in any way whatsoever taking steps or giving effect to the 2016 NBA election as it relates to the office/position of the President held on the 30th and 31st July, 2016, whether by themselves, agents, employees, privies or anybody acting for or on their behalf based on the said Election; AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the 15th Defendant (9th Defendant) whether by himself, agents, employees, privies or anybody acting for on his behalf, from parading himself, claiming and/or holding himself out as the President-elect/President of the NBA based on the 2016 NBA election as it relates to the office/position of the President held on 30th and 31st of July, 2016.
During the cause of the proceedings, the Plaintiff’s witness 3 (PW3), Mallick Bolakale, was examined. PW3 narrated to the Court that the 2016 NBA election result was displayed and opened from a folder from a laptop which was never used during the projecting of the votes at the NBA situation room. He alleged that the laptop which was actually used in the NBA situation room throughout the election process to display the votes, was swapped with a strange laptop which was eventually used to display the results from a folder contained therein. PW3 further told the Court that the result of the election which was conducted online, was not displayed in real time but was displayed and announced almost over an hour after voting closed. PW3 also revealed to the Court under cross examination that none of the agents of any of the Candidates for the said election was allowed to witness the auditing of the results as the auditing was done only by officials who introduced themselves as INEC officials, the ENBA and Managing Director of the 7th Defendant. According to PW3, the INEC officials were only introduced after the close of voting. PW3 tendered his proficiency certificate in Information Technology and same was admitted and marked as “P7” under cross-examination. He also stated his experience in the field of information communication technology. PW3 further stated that the NBA 2016 national officers’ election was conducted online on two different domains. PW3 was thereafter discharged.
The Plaintiff’s Witness 4 (PW4), Emmanuel Ochugboju, a lawyer of 26 years standing, one of the Plaintiff’s agents during the 2016 NBA national officers’ election was examined in chief. The declared result of the 2016 NBA national officers’ election was also admitted in evidence as “EXHIBIT P8” through PW4. Screen shots showing fluctuations in the number of eligible voters in the NBA 2016 election voters list of the Abuja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, were also admitted in evidence and marked as EXHIBITS P9 & P9B respectively through PW4. PW4 under cross-examination stated that the 8th Defendant (Augustine Alegeh SAN, former NBA President) never hid his interest in the election and bias against the Plaintiff. PW4 further stated under cross-examination that there was non-stop selective accreditation of voters for the 2016 NBA national officers’ election which according to him, the entire process was a tedious and unreliable. PW4 under cross-examination described the appearance of the 9th Defendant (Abubakar Mahmoud SAN) at the NBA Situation Room at the former National Secretariat shortly after announcement of the result as “dubious” (in his words). PW4 also corroborated the evidence of PW3 when he stated under cross-examination that the very laptop which was used for the entire process to display the votes in the NBA Situation room was swapped with a “strange” (in his words) laptop which was subsequently used to display the result of the 2016 NBA national officers’ election result. PW4 also alleged that the eventual announced result of the NBA 2016 national officers’ election was “doctored” (in his words). PW4 also told the Court that the 9th Defendant (Abubakar Mahmoud SAN) is married to his sister and is his in-law but that his loyalty was to a fair process. Cross-examination of the PW4 was however not concluded. The matter was thereafter adjourned to 15th and 16th of February, 2018 for continuation of trial.
At this stage, only the next line of action is anticipated which is of course, the continuation of trial. Indeed, there is more to be expected as the case gets to a stage full of expectations. Can the plaintiff succeed? That will be left for the court to say.