21st August, 2020
The withdrawal of the invitation extended to the Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai by the Nigerian Bar Association has got Nigerians talking.
Nasir El-Rufai was earlier invited to participate in the association’s forthcoming annual general meeting.
He was among the guest speakers slated to participate in a session titled ‘Who is a Nigerian?… A Debate on National Identity.
However, El-Rufai’s invitation was canceled by the planning committee on Thursday after over 3000 lawyers signed a virtual petition that the governor should not be invited.
The lawyers claimed that El-Rufai is not a rule of law governor and has often shown disrespect for the courts.
Reacting to the withdrawal, El-Rufai said the NBA endorsed a one-sided narrative.
The governor said he was unbothered by the decision as he never sought the body’s platform to speak.
El-Rufai, however, vowed that “The defamatory statements in the petition” by the lawyers who called for his withdrawal “will get the appropriate response.”
Speaking on the development, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) described the withdrawal of the invitation as “parochial, myopic and jejune”.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) welcomed the decision by the NBA.
The group said the decision was perfect and accurate as it was based on Nasir El-Rufai’s poor grounds on human rights records.
SERAP also called on the NBA not to invite the representatives of the Federal Government.
“We welcome the decision by the NBA to withdraw its invitation to Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai on grounds of poor human rights record. We also call on the NBA not to invite the Nigerian Government/its reps to its events until President Buhari obeys all outstanding court orders,” SERAP tweeted.
A former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, also hailed the decision.
Odinkalu tweeted, “The NBA has just voted to remove El-Rufai from the NBA 2020, so he will have time to focus on Southern Kaduna massacre.”
A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) said: “What is happening with El-Rufai is evidence that people are watching. Even if you enjoy immunity under the Constitution, people can still prosecute you morally in the court of public opinion.”
Columnist, Ikhide Ikheola, said, “I salute the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association for doing the right thing in rejecting El-Rufai’s desperate bid for legitimacy. This is just the beginning. Once young Nigerians realise how much power they have over their own destiny, Nigeria will be a changed place.”