Some lawyers have opposed the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)’s decision to invite Kaduna Governor Nasir El Rufai as a Speaker at its 60th Annual General Conference (AGC).
The matter was trending on social media with over 10,400 mentions on Twitter as at 6pm.
Many of the commentators criticised NBA President Paul Usoro for El-Rufai’s invitation mainly on account of his handling of the killings in Southern Kaduna.
It has been reported gunmen killed at least 43 people between last July 21 and 24 and 178 people were killed in the past 7 months across southern Kaduna communities.
Sharing their anger via their Twitter accounts, some lawyers said they had cancelled their attendance of the virtual conference, the first of its kind in the association’s history.
The conference is scheduled to hold between August 26 and 29, 2020 with the theme: ‘A United Nigeria The Myths and The Next Generation.’
Other speakers at the event include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike; Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon Justice Tanko Mohammed.
Others include former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami; President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA), Brian Speers and Director of Training at the Judicial Institute for Africa; Hon Dame Linda, Dobbs
Accusing the Governor of rule of law violations, they formed a campaign with the tag #CancelElRufai2020.
One of them, with the handle Eusebuiskay, said: “Dear @NigBarAssoc, I just ran through the list of speakers in the forthcoming virtual conference and Gov. El-Rufai’s name is on the list. I’ll be withdrawing my attendance and cancelling my registration for the conference. Thank you.”
Another lawyer Itong Washington also announced that he had cancelled his registration.
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Yet another, Valerian Nwadike, said: “If El-Rufai isn’t removed as Speaker in the Forthcoming NBA Conference I’ll withdraw my attendance and cancel my registration.
NBA SHOULD NEVER BE SEEN AS ENABLERS OF INSECURITIES IN SOUTHERN Kaduna.”
But Kabiru, Usman Misali opposed him.
He tweeted: “If truly you are a lawyer, honestly, I can say, sorry Nigeria. Hardly Nigeria progressed with types of people like you.”
Also, the convener of Open Bar Initiative, Silas Joseph Onu while condemning the inclusion of El-Rufai’s name on the list of speakers, in a statement, urged the organisers “to immediately remove El-Rufai from the list of speakers as not doing so will mean that the NBA is condoning his tactics of wilful maladministration regarding Kaduna South security situation”
Also reacting, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Prof Chidi Odinlakalu, tweeted: “If you are a #NigerianLawyer & you believe @elrufai’s credentials are #FitForPurpose say so.
“But If you don’t think Gov @elrufai is a good advertisement for #PromotingRuleOfLaw, pls speak up & ask @NigBarAssoc to #CancelElRufai2020. Better still, u can de-register from #NBAAGC2020.
“Some say @NigBarAssoc shd give @elrufai platform so lawyers can question or criticise him. See what’s happened to his critics- @Audu; @dadiyata; @GMabeiam; @Kindusluka; @SegunOnibiyo; @SKefason
“Will u be safe if u criticise him?
Over 15,012 participants had registered for the conference at the time of this report.