Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai has frowned at the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for excluding him from the list of guests billed to speak at the association’s Annual General Conference.
The NBA had withdrawn its invitation to El-Rufai following protest by several lawyers who faulted his governance in Kaduna and his disposition to the rule of law.
In a statement issued by the governor’s Special Adviser (Media and Communication), Muyiwa Adekeye, late Thursday evening, he noted that he would continue to contribute to the national conversation with or without the NBA platform.
He 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.”
Reacting to a petition against his invitation, El-Rufai described it as “defamatory.” Some lawyers under the aegis of Open Bar Initiative had described the invitation as a “reward for misrule,” while raising several other allegations against his conduct as a public officer.
According to the governor, he has taken “several actions” on the security front to address the “legacy of violent strife” in the state, noting that he is the governor who made permanent military and police bases a reality in southern Kaduna, after close to 40 years of waiting.
El-Rufai added that he remains focused on the tough and hard work of ending the violence cycle in Southern Kaduna.
“When lawyer friends requested Malam Nasir El-Rufai to accept the invitation of the NBA to participate in a panel discussion on national identity, he accepted as part of his commitment to having a national conversation and the evolution of a national consensus,” the statement said.
“NBA platform or not, these worthy conversations must continue. He will continue to make his voice heard on the things our country needs to do for its progress.
“While the decision about who speaks at its event is clearly the NBA’s, Malam El-Rufai wishes to make clear that he did not seek the platform and is not agitated that he has one less speaking engagement.
“However, the circumstances of the last few days warrant some comments. That a professional organisation has elected to endorse a one-sided narrative on a profound national issue is something that its members may wish to reflect upon. For an association, whose bread and butter is about justice to make a ruling based on the stridency of people who lampoon judicial processes against certain individuals without hearing the other side is odd. It bears noting that in its response to pressure, the NBA leadership has signaled an unfortunate embrace of injustice, unfairness, absence of fair hearing and total disregard for the rule of law.
“The defamatory statements in the petition is another matter entirely, and they will get the appropriate response.
“Malam Nasir El-Rufai has taken several actions on the security, institutional and technology fronts to address the legacy of violent strife in the state. He is the governor that made permanent military and police bases a reality in southern Kaduna, after close to 40 years of waiting. He is the governor that set up a Peace Commission to nudge communities to embrace their responsibility to live in peace and harmony.
“He has done this with equality of concern for all residents, not just those with access to the media and who are able to mobilise sentiment even when they are part of the problem. His investments in building a constituency for peace, anchored on the rule of law, respect for the citizenship rights of everyone and an embrace of the obligations of a common humanity will continue.
“Those who have chosen to pretend that it is only Kaduna State that is experiencing the security challenges in North-West, or that it is only one part of the state that is affected can enjoy the illusion.
“Malam El-Rufai remains focused on the tough and hard work of stopping the bleeding and the needless breaking of bones.”
The conference, themed ‘Am I a Nigerian – A Debate on National Identity, the Indigeneship-Citizenship Conundrum’, holds from August 26-29.