As lawyers across Nigeria elect a new President of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, today, Wednesday, July 29, 2020, there is a key question.By Adesina Wahab

A legal practitioner cum rights activist, Mr Kayode Ajulo, has said it would have been better if Kaduna State Governor, Mr Nasir el-Rufai, is allowed to speak at the coming annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, saying it would have provided an opportunity to prod and question the governor at close range and be able to determine his democratic credentials.

Ajulo, who said this in a statement at the weekend, is also billed to speak at the conference.

He will speak on “Executive Orders and Democratic Governance.”

Ajulo, who is the Principal Partner of Kayode Ajulo and Co., noted that such would have provided an opportunity to understand the workings of el-Rufai’s mind, if he had not met some people’s expectations rather than giving him up to the stakes.

“In deference to individual idiosyncrasies and perspectives, I am not in the position to cast a stone on the rightfulness or otherwise of Gov. Nasir el-Rufai’s attendance at the 60th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association.However, having consulted with the leaders of this great institution, I am constrained to dispassionately analyse the issues at hand and weigh in on this burning issue matter as a concerned member of the bar.

“Before proceeding further, I must confess to a subjective opposition to the inclusion of some personalities designated as speakers at the conference, but I cannot say I was tempted to deregister myself from participating in the conference thereby.

READ ALSO: NBA Conference: Full text of El-Rufai’s reaction

“Further and without prejudice to the various allegations levelled against Gov. Nasir el-Rufai which include, among others, the sentiment that he is opposed to the rule of law, I am of the view that it is pertinent to accord him the right of hearing at the conference whereat opportunity will be presented to all to prod, question and appraise at close range, the genuineness or otherwise of the man’s democratic credentials especially as ours is a learned and sophisticated body of people who are expected to be custodians of the law.

“While the issue at hand is not res integra, it would not be out of place to recall a similar scenario which played out not too long ago at the Annual Conference when the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar was announced as one of the speakers at the conference. His attendance generated a lot of synchronized obloquy due to his alleged involvement in the suspension and undue trial of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Although he later could not attend the conference as scheduled, I and I am certain many more colleagues had actually looked forward to his presence as I had scribbled down several questions to satisfy my inquisitiveness concerning the intrigues that attended the suspension of the former CJN.

“For the selfsame reason, I want to appeal to all to give Gov el-Rufai a chance to defend himself and his policies just as I have counselled myself to do with the other speakers whose inclusion my heart had revolted against. They must have something to say which may be worth hearing.

“It is therefore imperative in the circumstance that assuming but without stating that Gov. Nasir el-Rufai is guilty of the varying allegations levelled against him, and it would definitely be in the overall interest of the people if a budding dictator is quickly, preferably prematurely, cut to size.

It would be a step in the right direction to give him an opportunity to be heard and to attempt to understand in the lucent perceptive, the workings of his mind and the circumstances in which he found himself to occasion such a sharp departure from our expectations of his earlier presumed democratic tendencies rather than giving him up to the stakes.

We cannot forget that we are  priests in the temple of justice in which “audi alteram partem” is one of its strongest pillars. To pull that pillar down for one, is to pull it down for all. Again, I say, let’s hear him out,” he said.

While congratulating the present executive of the NBA, he urged all to learn some lessons from the words of the legendary late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa JSC (as he then was) that “when we act in unison, we will achieve the peace that we search, but when we are fighting separately, it is not coordinate and if we don’t accommodate one another, we cannot live together”.

Apart from Ajulo, who is the Baamo’fin of Akure, other speakers expected at the event are the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, SAN, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Abubakar Malami, Ex President Olusegun Obasanjo, Pastor Tunde Bakare, ace journalist and Chairman, Thisday Newspaper, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, among others.

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