THE demand by Nigerian lawyers to have Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State removed as a speaker in the forthcoming annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) is gathering momentum as a pressure group, the Open Bar Initiative has petitioned the NBA.
The group in a petition signed by Joseph Onu, its convener, and obtained by The ICIR stated that it was important for the NBA under the leadership of the president-elect, Olumide Akpata to remove El-Rufai from people scheduled to speak at the conference, citing the spate of insecurity in Kaduna State among other reasons.
Onu said that the Open Bar Initiative was appealing to the professional conscience of the NBA leaders and that of the organisers of the conference to withdraw the invitation extended to El-Rufai to save the association’s name.
According to him, the governor has refused to visit the Southern Kaduna, despite the spate of killings going on in the area, noting that he has been giving a flimsy excuse of COVID-19 as his defense.
He further noted that Kaduna State is regarded as the most dangerous state to live in Nigeria due to mass atrocities and killings going on in there.
Onu said the Open Bar Initiative as a group cannot fold its arm and watch the most respected NBA to be brought into disrepute because El-rufai is known for always violating human rights.
“As you may know, on 9 December 2019, Quartz Africa named Governor El-rufai as the head of a powerful group of Nigerian state governors who now regularly use security agents to arrest and intimidate journalists and activists who dare to question their actions or attempt to hold them accountable.”
The ICIR reports that pressure started mounting on Tuesday when lawyers took to social media to threaten a boycott of the annual conference that has been fixed to hold between August 26 and 29, if El-Rufai is not dropped as a speaker.
Aggrieved lawyers cited incessant killings going on in the Southern Kaduna under the watch of the governor as the reason he should not make the list of the 10 speakers invited for the conference.
On Wednesday, over 400 Nigerians also signed a petition demanding for the removal of the governor from among the speakers.
There has been no official statement from the NBA, orgainers of the event on the demand by lawyers for El-Rufai to be removed as a speaker.