MEMBERS of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Kebbi State branch have threaten to boycott the 60th annual conference of the Bar following the removal of Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State as a speaker at the conference.
The NBA conference themed “Step Forward,” is scheduled to start on August 26 and hold virtually with 10 speakers including El-Rufai lined up to speak on different topics.
But protest by lawyers and other Nigerians forced a decision by the National Executive Committee of the NBA to withdraw the invitation extended to the Kaduna State Governor.
This has however degenerated into further protest, as some chapters of the NBA including Muslim Lawyers Association (MULAN) threatening to boycott the conference.
In a statement Saturday evening, the Kebbi State chapter of the NBA said it “noticed with great dismay the purported resolution of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) held on the 20th August, 2020 to dis-invite and delist His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State Mallam Nasir El-Rufa’i from the list of the penalist in the fothcoming 60th NBA Annual General Conference (AGC) slated from 26th to 29th Auguts, 2020.”
The chapter, known as the Equity Bar described the decision to remove El-Rufai as a speaker from the conference due to calls from lawyers as ill-motived designed to destabilise unity of the NBA.
In a joint statement issued by Kabir Aliyu, and Aminu Hassan, the Chairman and Secretary of the association respectively, the lawyers faulted the NEC meeting that resulted in the controversial decision.
The lawyers argued that the tradition is for the conference to hold a day before the opening of the conference as against the new approach.
“The NBA, Birnin Kebbi Branch (the Equity Bar) noticed with great dismay the purported resolution of the NEC of the NBA held on the 20th August, 2020 to dis-invite and delist the Governor of Kaduna State Mallam Nasir El-Rufa’i from the list of panelists in the forthcoming 60th NBA AGC slated from 26th to 29th August, 2020 for the purported disrespect to the principles of rule of law,” the statement reads in part.
“The Equity Bar unequivocally dissociates itself from the ill-motived resolution calculated in destablising the unity and oneness of the Association.”
While faulting the conduct of the last NEC meeting of the NBA where the decision to drop El-Rufai was reached, the Kebbi NBA said none of its three statutory NEC members received any notice of the said NEC meeting.
According to the statement, NEC meetings were conducted after sending notices, and other necessary reports to all NEC members.
They, however, concluded that the mistakes were purportedly pre-arranged to exclude other members who might have rejected the purported resolution of dis-inviting the governor.
The lawyers urged the NEC to reverse its decision otherwise, the group would boycott the conference.
“This move is very unfair on the face of our great branch and denial of fair hearing to His Excellency who was invited by the NBA on its own volition without him applying to be part of the panelists,” they said.
“For the NBA to withdraw the invitation and delist him from the list after accepting the invitation without giving him an opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him, is to say the least, a blatant denial of fair hearing and clear injustice done to him.
The Equity Bar will not be part of this sham and one-sided resolution. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“Consequently, this ugly development has compelled the Equity Bar to call on the NBA/NEC/President to with immediate effect take necessary measures to rescind, cancel, void and set aside that purported and unpopular resolution.
It is apposite to finally state clearly and without mincing words that in the event that this unruly decision is not reversed the Equity Bar will not participate in the forthcoming NBA AGC as it is a clear mockery of its theme ‘Step Forward’, as this step forward is ridiculing the rule of law.”
Olugbenga heads the Investigations Desk at The ICIR. Do you have a scoop? Shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter Handle: @OluAdanikin