The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has offered behind-the-scene details of why the invitation to Kaduna Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai as a speaker at its Annual General Conference was withdrawn.
It said said only three members of its National Executive Committee (NEC) backed the suggestion to retain El Rufai as a speaker at its 60th Annual General Conference (AGC).
NBA President Paul Usoro, SAN, said of the trio, two were Southerners and the other was a Christian cleric.
The association announced el-Rufai’s exclusion on Thursday evening following protests by some lawyers, citing his alleged violation of human rights, disrespect to court orders and handling of the killings in Southern Kaduna.
The conference, a first-ever virtual AGC, is scheduled to hold between August 26 and 29 with the theme: ‘Step forward.’
It is expected to have Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), among others, in attendance.
El-Rufai was among the guest speakers slated to participate in a session titled ‘Who is a Nigerian?… A Debate on National Identity.’
Others also billed to speak at the session are Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike; former Anambra Governor Peter Obi and a cleric, Tunde Bakare; former minister Oby Ezekwesili and immediate past ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, Salamatu Suleiman.
But following a petition by a lawyer, Usani Odum and the growing number of high and low profile lawyers for and against the governor’s dis-invitation, the NBA NEC withdrew its invitation.
In a statement, ‘Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 2020 Annual General Conference’s National Executive Committee (NEC’s) decision to di-sinvite His Excellency Mallam Nasir el-Rufai as a speaker in a panel session’, Usoro clarified the circumstances of the decision.
He said: “This morning (August 21), I have had telephone discussions with the Director-General of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Mr. Asishana Okauru, on the issue and have tendered through him, to HE Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, my sincere apologies and regrets for any unintended embarrassment that he may have been caused by the NBA NEC’s decision.
“I followed up our telephone discussions with the attached letter which explains the circumstances of the decision by NEC. The letter has been sent to Mr. Okauru, both in hard and soft copies. It is apropos that l reproduce in this Release, paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 of the letter for ease of reference by our members: