The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), in Lagos on Friday described the withdrawal of invitation to Nasir el-Rufai to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) conference as “parochial, myopic and jejune”.
MURIC director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, in a statment, said that the NBA, as a learned group should know better, adding that it was high level prejudice.
“The NBA yesterday removed the name of El-Rufai from the list of speakers at its 2020 Virtual Annual General Conference (AGC).
“I describe NBA’s action as parochial, myopic and jejune. It is high level prejudice. NBA as a group of learned literati should know better.
“The fact that NBA took the ill-advised step on account of a petition written by a group, Open Bar Initiative exposes NBA’s impatience, intolerance and self-conceit,” he said.
MURIC, however, called on all lawyers from the North not to allow this to slide, adding that any action of injustice must spark a reaction if tyranny is to be stopped in the world.
He urged the NBA to rescind its decision, adding that injury to one is injury to all.
It was reported that the leadership of the NBA withdrew the invitation extended to el-Rufai to participate in the association’s forthcoming annual general meeting.
In a resolution at the NBA national executive council meeting on Wednesday, the association said the decision would be communicated to the governor.
“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to the Kaduna State Governor, H.E. Nasir El-Rufai by the 2020 Annual General Meeting Conference Planning Committee be withdrawn and decision communicated to the Governor,” the NBA said via its Twitter handle.
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 Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers; Peter Obi, the former governor of Anambra and vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party at the 2019 election; Tunde Bakare, a cleric and chairman, African Advisory Council of the Royal Commonwealth Society; Oby Ezekwesili, an activist and former federal minister; and Salamatu Suleiman, the immediate past ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace and security.
Those billed to speak at the conference include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and Tanko Muhammad, the Chief Justice of Nigeria; Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president; Ike Ekweremadu, former deputy senate president; and Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The 60th NBA annual general conference, its first-ever virtual event, is themed ‘Step Forward.’
It was reported that responding, Gov. el-Rufai, accused the NBA of embracing a “one-sided narrative” after the lawyers’ body bowed to pressure and withdrew his participation from next week’s NBA annual general conference.
In a statement on Thursday, el-Rufai said he had accepted the invitation to participate in the conference 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,” Muyiwa Adekeye, Mr El-Rufai’s aide, said in the statement.
“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.”