By David Royal
With nine days to the 60th annual Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Conference, some lawyers on social media have queried the inclusion of Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai as one of the key speakers in the forthcoming virtual conference
NBA had on May 12, 2020, stated that it will hold its Annual General Conference (AGC) slated for August virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Paul Usoro (SAN) who was then president of the association, the decision became necessary following a meeting with the Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) led by Professor Konyinsola Ajayi (SAN), where it was decided that the 2020 AGC would be held virtually.
The conference is expected to commence from 26th through 29th Agust 2020.
Speakers at the event include the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike; Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon Justice Tanko Mohammed.
Other key speakers include former President Olusegun Obasanjo; Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai; 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
Reacting to the inclusion of governor El-Rufai’s name on the list of key speakers, one of the lawyers identified as Itong Washington who deregistered from being part of the virtual conference wrote on Twitter “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”.
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.
— Itong Washington (@itongwashington) August 17, 2020
The lawyer, however, did not state the reason behind his action after seeing El-Rufai’s name on the list and NBA was yet to react to the development as at the time of filing this report.
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 on Tuesday made available to Vanguard said: “We have observed, with grave disappointment, the inclusion of Governor Nasir El’rufai as one of the speakers in the 2020 Annual Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association.
“It is sad that at a time when El’rufai is playing ostrich with the senseless killings in Kaduna, the Bar Association is giving him our collective platform to speak.
”One can be sure that he will also use the given platform to advance his conflated narrative, designed to deceive and confuse the nation on the real causes of the killings.
“The Kaduna killings cannot be justified as a reprisal by the Governor, using our platform. Reprisal killing is also a criminal offence. However, this Governor makes it appear like a justified cause.
“We are, therefore, calling on the organisers of this conference 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”
Silas further stated that should the NBA Conference Planning Committee and the President of the Bar insist on proceeding with El’rufai as a speaker, the initiative will encourage Nigerian Lawyers to boycott the virtual conference.
As at the time of filing this report, over 15,012 participants have registered for the forthcoming virtual conference.