The Jigawa Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has rejected the decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the association to withdraw the invitation extended to Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to speak at the association’s virtual annual general conference.
The NBA had withdrawn its invitation to El-Rufai following an outcry by several lawyers who faulted his governance in Kaduna and his disposition to the rule of law. Some lawyers under the aegis of Open Bar Initiative described the invitation as a “reward for misrule.”
In a statement signed by the Chairman of the NBA, Jigawa branch, Garba Abubakar, on Thursday, he described the invitation withdrawal as “quite unfair,” stating that the allegations against the governor have nothing to do with the NEC or NBA at large.
Abubakar noted that if complaints were to be judged at face value, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who has “serious allegations of abuse of human rights against him” would have also had his invitation withdrawn.
The chairman added that if the decision is not reversed, his branch would boycott the forthcoming conference.
“The Nigerian Bar Association Dutse Branch disagrees with the position of the national executive committee of the association held this evening, in its resolve to withdraw the earlier invitation sent to Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, the executive governor of Kaduna state to participate as a guest speaker in the forthcoming annual general conference of the association scheduled to take place from August 26-29, 2020 based on frivolous allegations,” the chairman said.
“The decision is quite unfair as the allegation against the governor has nothing to do with the NEC or NBA at large. Worse still, the governor has not been given the opportunity to defend himself on the allegations raised against him by a group within the association, before the resolution of this magnitude was reached against him. as the Nigerian Bar Association belongs to all.
“The motto of the association is promoting the ‘Rule of Law’ prudence and justice, therefore, demands that he be given the opportunity to defend himself before taking any decision that affects him.
“If complaints are to be judged on their face value and without due process, similar treatment is to [be] given to Governor of Rivers State Nyesom Wike who has serious allegations of abuse of human rights against him to the extent of the demolition of residential houses and place of worship without observing due process.
“On the strength of this, therefore, we call on the national body under President Usoro SAN to reverse the decision with immediate effect, else, the Nigerian Bar Association Dutse Branch will boycott the virtual annual general conference taking place in a few days to come.”
Recall that El-Rufai had described the decision of the NBA leadership as signalling “an unfortunate embrace of injustice, unfairness, absence of fair hearing and total disregard for the rule of law.”
He added that he would continue to contribute to the national conversation with or without the NBA platform.
The conference, themed ‘Am I a Nigerian – A Debate on National Identity, the Indigeneship-Citizenship Conundrum’, holds from August 26-29.