Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has reacted to the decision of the Nigerian Bar Association to withdraw its invitation to the governor to speak at the association’s Annual General Conference billed to hold between August 26 and 29.
NBA had Thursday withdrawn its invitation to the governor via its Twitter handle.
The association wrote: “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to the Kaduna State Governor, H.E. Nasir El-Rufai, by the 2020 Annual General Meeting Conference Planning Committee be withdrawn and decision communicated to the governor.”
Many lawyers and activists have criticised the choice of El-Rufai as a guest speaker at the conference with many withdrawing their participation over the governor’s invite.
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The governor was accused of having poor human rights records.
But, in a swift reaction, El-Rufai accused the professional organisation of endorsing a one-sided narrative on a profound national issue.
The governor defended his administration and vowed that appropriate legal action would be taken against defamatory statements in the petition.
“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. 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.
“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.
“Malam El-Rufai remains focused on the tough and hard work of stopping the bleeding and the needless breaking of bones,” the governor said, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye.
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Apart from El-Rufai, other speakers invited for the conference include: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike; Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad; former president Olusegun Obasanjo; former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; and former Anambra State governor and vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2019 elections, Peter Obi.
Others are: Chairman, African Advisory Council of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Tunde Bakare; a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili; and former ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Salamatu Suleiman.