NBA drops El-Rufai as conference speaker

Kaduna state governor nasir el-rufai

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai says he is not angered following the withdrawal of invitation to speak at the annual general meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

The NBA withdrew the invitation offered to El-Rufai following outcry by some lawyers who said the governor stands against what the profession represents.

The group’s virtual conference holds from August 24 to August 26.

It will feature Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike among others.

Reacting to his removal, El-Rufai said in a statement on Thursday by his spokesman Muyiwa Adekeye that the NBA’s move would not silence his voice from national issues.

“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,” the statement read.

“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 signalled an unfortunate embrace of injustice, unfairness, absence of fair hearing and total disregard for the rule of law.”

Lawyers under the aegis of Open Bar Initiative lawyers had written a petition to the chairman of the technical committee of the NBA conference Koyinsola Ajayi saying El-Rufai abuses human rights and oversees a state described as “the most dangerous state in Nigeria in 2020″.

Responding to that, El-Rufai said: “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.”