Just In: El-Rufai Reacts To NBA’s Decision To Drop Him As Speaker At 2020 Conference

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State says he is not deterred by the decision of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to remove him as one of its speakers for the body’s 2020 Conference.

The NBA had, following a petition against the governor by some lawyers – due to security issues in Kaduna – yanked of El-Rufai’s name as a speaker in the event scheduled to hold virtually from August 24-26, 2020.

But in a statement on behalf of the governor, Special Adviser to the former Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Muyiwa Adekeye said his principal will continue to speak on matters of national importance.

“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,” Muyiwa 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.”

‘Not Agitated’

While the NBA has the right to determine who speaks at its event, El-Rufai says he did not seek the lawyers’ platform and do not see the development as enough reason to be agitated.

NBA president-elect, Olumide Akpata. Photo: Twitter@Olumide Akpata

El-Rufai believes with happenings in the lead up to the NBA’s decision, there is a need to clear the air just as he accused the lawyers’ body of following what he described as a “one-sided narrative.”

The NBA leadership, as far as the Kaduna leader is concerned, have by removing him as a speaker in the conference, embraced injustice, unfairness and an indifference to the rule of law.

“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,” the statement explained.

“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.”

Although he claims there are several defamatory statements in the petition that led to his withdrawal from the conference, the statement noted that it is a matter that will be treated differently.

‘Constituency For Peace’

While reeling out his principal’s efforts in peace-building and his development strides, El-Rufai’s aide said Kaduna is not the only state experiencing security challenges in the country and assured that in spite of the challenges, the Kaduna governor will not be deterred in his quest to address the situation.

“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 common humanity will continue,” he added.

“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.”

you will recall that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) had withdrawn its invitation to Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai as one of its speakers for the 2020 Annual General Conference.

The NBA disclosed this in a tweet on its official handle on Thursday and said the decision has been communicated to the Governor.

“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 [the] decision communicated to the Governor,” the NBA said.

Prior to El-Rufai’s withdrawal, a petition had been filed to stop the Kaduna leader from attending the Conference.

“The senseless killings in southern Kaduna must stop. The political correctness of Governor El-Rufai on national TV is diversionary,” the petition read.

“It is a reversal to have him speak to lawyers on security when Governor (Babagana) Zulum of Borno a better person can do so.

“We may not be able to do anything to stop the killings, but we can stop the governor from speaking at the NBA-AGC to show our disapproval of the manner he has handled the situation!!”

The petition which was started by a lawyer, Usani Odum has generated about 3,150 signatures on Change.Org as of 4 pm on Thursday, August 20th, 2020.

Southern Kaduna Crisis

Equally, a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) had called for the removal of the Governor from the list of speakers for the event.

In a letter addressed to the Chairman, Technical Committee, Conference Planning Committee (NBA), Konyinsola Ajayi (SAN), Falana based his decision on the crisis in Southern Kaduna.

According to him, the committee should not allow someone who allegedly has a penchant for promoting impunity to mount its platform.

This year’s NBA conference which takes place from August 24-26, 2020, will have several dignitaries including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), in attendance.

The event will also see the former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and a former Education Minister, Obiageli Ezekwesili speaking.

According to the NBA, the theme of this year’s conference is: ‘Am I a Nigerian – A Debate on National Identity, the Indigeneship-Citizenship Conundrum.”

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