Alex Enumah in Abuja
The newly elected leadership of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Thursday gave in to pressure from its members, who were against the inclusion of Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, as a guest speaker at the forthcoming National Conference of the association.
Although no reason was given for the withdrawal, it is however not unconnected to the increase wave of criticism from members of the NBA against the decision of the body to allow el-Rufai present a lecture at its forthcoming annual conference.
Governor el-Rufai was among those billed to speak at the association’s annual general conference to be held virtually by end of August.
He was billed to speak in a session titled ‘Who is a Nigerian?… A Debate on National Identity.’
Some of those scheduled to speak at the session include; Rivers State Governor; Nyesom Wike, former governor of Anambra State and vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party at the 2019 election, Mr Peter Obi; cleric and chairman, African Advisory Council of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Pastor Tunde Bakare; activist and former federal minister, Oby Ezekwesili, and the immediate past ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, Salamatu Suleiman.
Other speakers at the conference include Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; Speaker of the House of Representatives, RT. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; and Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad.
But members in their large number rose against his participation, which is believed to be why the NEC of the NBA decided to withdraw the invitation.
The decision to withdraw the invitation although taken at an ongoing meeting of the NBA leadership was revealed on the tweeter handle of the NBA on Thursday evening.
The message noted that the decision would be communicated to the governor.
“The National Executive Council of the Nigerian Bar Association at its ongoing meeting resolves that the invitation to the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai by the 2020 Annual General Conference Planning Committee be withdrawn and decision communicated to the governor”, the message read.
Some of the reasons given against the participation of el-Rufai include; his alleged lack of “empathy” for the continued spate of killings in Kaduna State; his alleged controversial statement that any invaders “will go back in body bags” ahead of the 2019 election; the threat by his son, Bello, to support gang-rape of a Twitter user’s mother, which he later apologised for amongst others.
He was also accused of routine arrests and intimidation of his critics.