By Yinka Odumakin
THE Nigerian Bar Association in an audacious move and a very classic naming and shaming act has withdrawn its invitation to Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, to speak at its conference following protests from some lawyers.
The tweet on Thursday announcing the decision read: “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to the Kaduna State Governor, H.E. Nasir El-Rufai, by the 2020 Annual General Conference Planning committee be withdrawn and decision communicated to the Governor.”
A petition to stop the governor started by a lawyer, Usani Odum, had garnered over 3,150 signatures on Change.Org as of 4.00 pm on Thursday last week.
In a separate letter titled: ‘Request to Withdraw the Offer of Platform at the 2020 Annual General Conference of the NBA to Mallam Nasir el-Rufai,’ addressed to the Chairman, Technical Committee on Conference Planning, NBA, Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi, SAN; some lawyers said the governor must not be allowed to speak at the conference.
The letter, which was signed by Silas Onu and Auta Nyada, listed 10 allegations against el-Rufai and his son, Bello, who is a Special Adviser to Kaduna Central lawmaker, Senator Uba Sani.
They faulted the NBA for inviting el-Rufai, citing his alleged poor human rights record and his inability to stop the killings, particularly in Southern Kaduna. The lawyers listed his sins to include serial violations of human rights and reckless statements like his threat against members of the international community that they would return home in body bags if they intervened in the 2019 elections.
The NBA has continued what I advocated that Nigerians continue to do when the late Kashamu peers wanted to shut former President Olusegun Obasanjo up for grafting the proper epitaph for the late politician.
Boko Haram can invite El-Rufai for their session but let no decent Nigerians give him their platforms. El-Rufai was one of the fresh blood President Obasanjo injected into governance in his time. He showed some zeal in restoring Abuja master plan but his activities were trailed with extreme wickedness.
I met him on the net in 2010 when former President Yar’Adua fell ill and the cabal around him started monkey business with Nigerians. We started a pressure group of 12 Nigerians which blossomed to 54. The online movement latter became a real organisation at a meeting called by Pastor Tunde Bakare.
The Save Nigeria Group engaged the cabal until the National Assembly used the doctrine of necessity to enthrone Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as President.
I saw how efficient El-Rufai could be while working with him online. There was no airspace he could not enter to get information. The day they were bringing Yar’Adua to Nigeria, he was downloading every move of the plane to me. But it was in that process that I saw how highly ambitious he could be.
I cannot forget the day Jonathan was made President and he came to Pastor Bakare’s room at Transcorp. He wanted a list forwarded to the President of about three names from which he could pick a Vice-President. His name was on the list with highest points.
I forgot I have seen him twice in UAE before. The first time was when I attended his 50th birthday celebration. The second was when he solicited a meeting of SNG leadership through me. Pastor Bakare was reluctant at attending but succumbed to pressure from Mr. Jimi Agbaje who was to become the first adversary of El-Rufai and his partner, Jimi Lawal. I saw they were not for any good at the UAE meeting!
Thereafter came the 2011 elections during which Major General Muhammadu Buhari picked Pastor Bakare as his running mate and me as his spokesman. El-Rufai was by the sides of Pastor Bakare, but throwing bombs at Buhari as “corrupt and unelectable”.
By 2015 he turned around a Buhari supporter and had abandoned his 2011 pipe dream of running for president on Labour Party platform, opportunistically using the SNG as a launchpad. He became one of the members of the CPC merger committee for CPC towards the APC.
I was named a member without anybody discussing with me. I took a trip to Abuja to explain to other members that I was done with the CPC experiment and I was not going to participate in APC. I met El-Rufai and Hadiza Bala-Usman at 3G office and returned to Lagos.
Some weeks after this encounter, I met El-Rufai at the Abuja Airport as we were both travelling to London on British Airways; I saw him and Dr. Kayode Fayemi at the lounge and greeted them, but El-Rufai did not answer.
As God would always show His sense of humour, we were assigned seats next to each other and we we didn’t exchange a word till we got to London. I was not surprised a year after that he started giving testimony as a governor about how he started befriending killers and paying them compensations.
He said: “For Southern Kaduna, we didn’t understand what was going on and we decided to set up a committee under Gen. Martin Luther Agwai (retd) to find out what was going on there. What was established was that the root of the problem has a history starting from the 2011 post-election violence.
Fulani herdsmen from across Africa bring their cattle down towards Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria. The moment the rains start around March, April, they start moving them up to go back to their various communities and countries.
“Unfortunately, it was when they were moving up with their cattle across Southern Kaduna that the elections of 2011 took place and the crisis trapped some of them. Some of them were from Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Senegal. Fulanis are in 14 African countries and they traverse this country with the cattle. So many of these people were killed, cattle lost and they organised themselves and came back to revenge.
“So a lot of what was happening in Southern Kaduna was actually from outside Nigeria. We got a hint that the late Governor Patrick Yakowa got this information and he sent someone to go round some of these Fulani communities, but of course after he died, the whole thing stopped. That is what we inherited. But the Agwai committee established that.
“We took certain steps. We got a group of people that were going round trying to trace some of these people in Cameroon, Niger Republic and so on to tell them that there is a new governor who is Fulani like them and has no problem paying compensations for lives lost and he is begging them to stop killing.
In most of the communities, once that appeal was made to them, they said they have forgiven. There are one or two that asked for monetary compensation. They said they have forgiven the death of human beings, but want compensation for cattle. We said no problem, and we paid some. As recently as two weeks ago, the team went to Niger Republic to attend one Fulani gathering that they hold every year with a message from me.”
This was the same fellow I went to Dubai to celebrate his 50 the birthday! I was in Southern Kaduna two weeks ago and my eyes were tearful as the President of SOKAPU, Hon Jonathan Asake briefed us fully on all the imaginable evils under the sun that El-Rufai had done in Southern Kaduna.
The naming and shaming by the lawyers is just a tip of the iceberg; a date with International Criminal Court should be the greatest reward. Striking this fellow off the list of possible leaders of Nigeria ever is a fair deal.