Conference: Withdrawal of invitation by NBA unfair, says El-Rufai

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, says the decision of the Nigerian Bar Association to withdraw the invitation extended to him is “an unfortunate embrace of injustice, unfairness, absence of fair hearing and total disregard for the rule of law.”

Following protests from some lawyers, the NBA, on Thursday, withdrew its invitation to El-Rufai, who was supposed to speak at the 2020 Annual General Conference of the association.

“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to the Kaduna State Governor, H.E. Nasir El-Rufai by the 2020 Annual General Conference Planning committee be withdrawn and decision communicated to the governor,” the NBA tweeted on Thursday evening.

But while reacting in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye, the Kaduna governor said he would continue to speak out on national issues, whether given the NBA platform or not.

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According to the statement titled, ‘Malam El-Rufai will continue to contribute to the national conversation’, “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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

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

“The defamatory statements in the petition is another matter entirely, and they will get the appropriate response.

“Malam Nasir El-Rufai has taken several actions on the security, institutional and technology fronts to address the legacy of violent strife in the state. 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.

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“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.

“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.”

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