The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has withdrawn its invitation to Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to speak at the association’s 2020 Annual General Conference.
According to a tweet via its official Twitter handle, the decision to withdraw the invitation to the governor was taken by the NBA’s National Executive Committee (NEC) at its Thursday’s virtual meeting.
“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to the Kaduna State Governor, H.E. Nasir El-Rufai by the 2020 Annual General Conference Planning committee be withdrawn and decision communicated to the Governor,” the association tweeted.
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to the Kaduna State Governor, H.E. Nasir El-Rufai by the 2020 Annual General Conference Planning committee be withdrawn and decision communicated to the Governor.
— Nigerian Bar Association (@NigBarAssoc) August 20, 2020
While no reason was stated for the withdrawal of the invitation, several Nigerian lawyers had expressed their discontent over the decision of the leadership of the NBA to include El-Rufai as a guest speaker at the conference.
In a petition to Chairman of the NBA conference planning committee, Koyinsola Ajayi, some lawyers under the aegis of Open Bar Initiative had described the invitation as a “reward for misrule.”
Convener of the group, Silas Onu, noted that the governor “represents the very anti-thesis of what we profess to defend.”
According to the group, asides governing a state that has been described as “the most dangerous state in Nigeria in 2020, El-Rufai has on several occasions abused the rights of Nigerians.”
It noted that “a major focus of the intolerance of Mallam el-Rufai has been lawyers and the legal profession,” recalling when, in 2016, the governor allegedly threatened to abduct Gloria Ballason, a lawyer, “because she had criticised him in a news article.”
“As Governor, Mallam el-Rufai has shown no regard for the rule of law, for human rights or for human beings.
“He has been reckless in his utterances, hubristic in his outlook and irresponsible with power. Offering him the platform of the NBA Annual General Conference 2020 is reward for misrule,” the lawyers added.
The conference, themed ‘Am I a Nigerian – A Debate on National Identity, the Indigeneship-Citizenship Conundrum’, holds from August 26-29.
Others billed to speak at the session include Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike; the former governor of Anambra State and Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party at the 2019 election, Peter Obi; a cleric and Chairman, African Advisory Council of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Tunde Bakare; an activist and former minister, Oby Ezekwesili; and immediate past ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Salamatu Suleiman.