BY SEGUN ADEBAYO, ABUJA – The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Thursday withdrew the invitation it earlier extended to Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State to speak at its 2020 Annual General Conference.
This followed a plethora of protests by majority of members of the NBA that threatened to withdraw their registration for the conference saying it was sad that at a time when El-Rufai is playing the ostrich with the senseless killings in Southern Kaduna, the Bar Association is giving him its platform to speak.
One of the petitioners, Mr Silas Joseph Onu Esq., who is the Convener, Open Bar Initiative, noted that El-Rufai will use the given platform to advance his conflated narrative, designed to deceive and confuse the nation on the real causes of the killings.
Onu said that the Southern Kaduna killings cannot be justified as a reprisal by the Governor, using the NBA platform, stressing that reprisal killing is also a criminal offence, yet Governor E;-Rufai makes it appear like a justified cause.
Following the petitions and threats of withdrawals from the conference which was mostly like going to jeopardize the NBA Annual Conference, the Association declared in its Twitter handle @NigBarAssoc. Saying that; “The National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association at its ongoing meeting resolves that the invitation to the Kaduna State Governor, H.E. Nasir El-Rufai, by the 2020 Annual General Conference Planning committee be withdrawn and decision communicated to the Governor.”
Another petition aimed at stopping El-Rufai from attending the NBA Annual General Conference that was initiated by a lawyer, Usani Odum, attracted over 3,150 signatures on Change.Org as of 4:00 pm on Thursday.
Similarly, a letter titled, “Request to Withdraw the Offer of Platform at the 2020 Annual General Conference of the NBA to Mallam Nasir el-Rufai,” which was addressed to the Chairman, Technical Committee on Conference Planning, NBA, Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi, some members of the NBA insisted that Governor El-Rufai must not be allowed to speak at the conference.
The letter, signed by Silas Onu and Auta Nyada, listed 10 allegations against the Kaduna State Governor and his son, Bello, who is a Special Adviser to Kaduna Central lawmaker, Senator Uba Sani.
They accused El-Rufai of poor human rights record and his inability to stop the killings in Southern Kaduna.
The NBA members also drew the attention of the Bar Association to what they described as El-Rufai’s many controversial utterances including a threat during the run-up to the general elections in 2019 that any foreigner that interfered in the poll would leave Nigeria in body bags.
The NBA virtual conference, which holds from August 24-26, 2020, is expected to have Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), in attendance.
Others expected to speak at the event include former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, Governor Wike of Rivers State and a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili.
The NBA 2020 conference theme is; “Am I a Nigerian – A Debate on National Identity, the Indigeneship-Citizenship Conundrum”.