*CHAMS has technical issues NBA president admits
*CHAMS will be the ICT provider for 2018 election
*The date for election shifted to August
*New ICT company will be employed for verification
*ECNBA to work hand in hand with the ICT experts of candidates
The fate of ICT Company, CHAMS Plc, is now in the hands of the Electoral Committee of the NBA, following the remarks made by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, A.B. Mahmoud SAN.
The president of NBA , AB Mahmoud, SAN on Friday held a crucial meeting with the presidential candidates for the NBA 2018 elections and the ICT firm that will anchor the elections.
While Mr AB Mahmoud SAN, the NBA President does not see any conflict of interest and likelihood of bias in the allegation that one of the presidential candidates in the person of Mr Paul Usoro SAN shares the same board in Access Bank with one Mrs Awosika who is the present Chairman of Cham, the ICT Provider, some of the national officers including one of the Presidential Candidates, Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN, voiced out their concern and advised that the ICT provider be replaced to guarantee credibility and integrity in the electoral process.
Their concern is backed up with the evidence that the last election of 2 years ago that produced the current leadership of the bar is still in court and has brought the untold crisis of confidence and division within the once cherished United bar and they would not want anything that would further polarize the bar.
When it became obvious that no concrete agreement was reached on the choice of the ICT provider, the President ruled that the final decision on whether CHAMS will be the ICT provider will now rest squarely on the shoulders of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association headed by Professor Auwalu Yadudu.
The Nigeria Lawyer (TNL), however gathered that the President acknowledged the fact that CHAMS has technical issues with the verification of members and that issue called for a replacement of CHAMS for the verification exercise which he agreed should be done anew but with the list of those who have been submitted earlier on by the branches to the national secretariat totaling about thirty-two thousand eligible voters.
According to the President, this new verification will mean that the date for election already fixed for 27th and 28th will be adjusted to spill over into August.
He further said that the new ICT company that will be employed having finished verification will pass over to CHAMS the verified names with which to conduct the election. Whether this process will engender confidence is still an issue as there are concerns that CHAMS already have the names of about thirty-two thousand members in their custody and likelihood of misuse cannot be ruled out completely.
It is important to point out that CHAMS having realized several flaws discovered in the verification exercise carried out by them has advised the following to the NBA leadership :
(1) An independent auditor to collate and be sure of the list members qualified to vote(Pre-election Audit of the entire process)
(2) Verification and authentication/ election of names by ICT provider.
(3) Another independent post-election Audit
The Nigeria Lawyer (TNL) also gathered that CHAMS further promised to step down if the NBA perceives their chairman’s relationship with one of the presidential candidates as conflict of interest.
All these measures are geared towards guaranteeing the integrity and fairness of the process.
The principal actors, the candidates themselves requested that the process be made fairer by allowing their various ICT experts employed by them to interrogate the system and be involved in the IT processes that will enable their experts communicate integrity of the system to them.
One of the candidates even requested from the electoral body to make available the names of the verified voters to the candidates who will reach out to them to canvass for votes, for it is only candidates with big pockets have had access to the voters as it were.
In response to these requests, the Chairman of the Electoral Committee promised to work hand in hand with the ICT experts of candidates to engender confidence and they promised to look into the request of having verified list made available to candidates who may want to reach out to them for votes.
The meeting rose with an understanding that the election will be postponed to accommodate these resolutions that have been made to sanitize the voters list by a new ICT partner, and election proper to be conducted by another body and whether that body will be CHAMS will have to be decided by the Professor Yadudu led Electoral Committee which has no much time on their hands to do this.
The Nigeria Lawyer (TNL) further learned that the President Mr. AB Mahmoud has invited past presidents of the bar for a consultative meeting. The agenda of the meeting is clearly unknown, but many believe that it may have to do with the current impasse on the choice of CHAMS as the ICT partner in the 2018 Electoral Process. It is yet to be seen how many past presidents will attend the said meeting that is billed to start by 6 pm today and what is the effect of their decision on the entire process.
The constituency of the legal profession awaits with wild expectation on how these issues which bother greatly on the integrity of the electoral process and the legal profession will be resolved by AB Mahmoud led Executive of the Nigerian Bar Association.