Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday bowed to pressure from its members, who are 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 was however not unconnected to the criticism by some members against the decision of the body to allow el-Rufai present a lecture at its 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.
Some of those scheduled to speak at the session include; Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, former governor of Anambra State and vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 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, Dr. 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, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad.
But some lawyers asked the NBA to withdraw its invitation to the Kaduna State governor.
In a petition to the Chairman of the Technical Committee on the NBA Conference Planning, Mr. Koyinsola Ajayi (SAN), the lawyers under the aegis of Open Bar Initiative described the invitation as a “reward for misrule.”
In the petition, the Convener of the group, Mr. Silas Onu, said the governor “represents the very anti-thesis of what we profess to defend.”
Some of the reasons given to oppose the participation of el-Rufai include; his alleged lack of “empathy” in 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 routinely arresting and intimidating his critics.
The decision to withdraw the invitation although taken at an ongoing meeting of the NBA leadership was revealed on the tweeter handle of the association yesterday.
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.