The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN has praised the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, over it’s high level of preparations ahead of the February general elections.
Maikyau SAN also flayed the partisan declaration action of the NBA Akwa Ibom Branches which he said clearly negates the NBA’s neutral stance in the Nigerian political sphere.
In his speech during the NBA State of the Nation Dialogue that was held on Monday, 30th January, 2023, at the NBA Secretariat in Abuja, Mr Maikyau SAN said “I commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for all that it is doing to deliver a free, fair, and credible election to Nigerians. I charge INEC to maintain its independence as we unequivocally, as a Bar, declare our support to help ward off any attempt to undermine the integrity of the electoral process and neutrality of INEC.
He continued that “In this regard, my attention was drawn to a social media publication that the Nigerian Bar Association in Akwa Ibom State had endorsed a candidate in the forthcoming election.
Criticising the move, Maikyau explained that “I took time to verify the information and I have confirmation that this indeed took place. I want to say in no unclear terms that we condemn the action of the few members who embarked on such despicable and disgraceful conduct using the platform of the NBA. That declaration was not made for or with the authority of the NBA. It is disgusting and I have already instructed the First Vice President NBA who is leading the NBA Election Monitoring Group, to immediately exclude all the branches of the NBA in Akwa Ibom State from participating in the monitoring of the forthcoming election.
“This exclusion will be communicated to INEC forthwith and members involved in this conduct will also face disciplinary action as may be determined by the NBA. NBA is not partisan; we are not a political party, we are representatives of the people, we remain neutral and must be seen to maintain our neutrality at all times – we belong to everyone and to nobody.” He added.
Over the years, the NBA has extensively strived to be nonpartisan in its support of the Nigerian democracy framework, to work towards the strengthening of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law through its programmes and other effective interventions.
Like many other organisations, the NBA has no stake in the political outcome of election. Upon observing polls, the Association usually presents public reports with observation summaries and recommendations. Its presence helps build public trust in a transparent, provably democratic electoral process thereby encouraging accountability.