NBA conference disinvitation: El-Rufai deserves fair hearing – Bauchi lawyers

Reactions have trailed the decision of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) over the withdrawal of an invite sent to Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai as one of the guest speakers at the August 26, 2020 Annual General Conference of the association.

NBA had invited the governor as the main speaker but rescinded its decision on August 20 over an accusation of disregard for rule of law in Southern Kaduna killings by an online poll conducted by some Nigerians.

While reacting to the development over the weekend, group of lawyers under the aegis of Body of Bauchi Lawyers of Conscience (BOBALAC), described the decision as “flagrant violation of 36(1) (4) and (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).”

The Chief Convener of the group, Jibrin Sa’id Jibrin Esq, said, lawyers should know better and that, the principle of natural justice envisages against any citizen no matter how weighty the allegation(s) may look.

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“We call on the National Executive Committee of the NBA to quickly reverse its decision to withdraw the invitation letter issued to El-Rufai; or withdraw the letters issued to (Former President) Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor Nyesom Woke as speakers,” the lawyers said.

BOBALAC noted that fair hearing was not accorded to El-Rufai as opposed to the case of the outgoing President of the Bar, Paul Usoro (SAN) who it said “is currently standing a criminal trial for some alleged offences, but was still allowed to govern the prestigious body under the presumption of innocence as he was elected to lead the Bar in 2018.”

Meanwhile, NBA in Bauchi State has also threatened to stay away from the annual conference over withdrawal of El-Rufai’s participation. It said the NBA should be “seen as promoting the principles of the Rule of Law and attainment of justice to all manner of people irrespective of cultural, tribal, religious or political inclination.

“As lawyers, we should know the significance of the Constitution which is always binding on all its subscribers, now Section 3(6) of the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution and Bye-law emphasised on the maintenance of the highest standard of professional conduct, etiquette and discipline.

“Consequent upon the above, we call on the National Executive Committee (NEC) as well as leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association to immediately rescind its decision and apologise to our teeming members for reaching such unpopular decision which affects the hard-earned image of and integrity of the Nigerian Bar Association as an impartial umpire.

“Furthermore, failure to rescind its decision, the leadership of our noble branch has resolved unanimously and unequivocally to boycott the forthcoming NBA conference scheduled for this 2020. We also call on all the members of our branch to comply with the same above.

“Let us be promoters of rule of law and not to be driven by parochial sentiment,” Bauchi NBA said in a letter signed by the Chairman, Abubakar Abdulhamid, and the Secretary, Shansuddeen Magaji.

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