The Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria has asked the Nigerian Bar Association to remove ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, from the list of speakers in the upcoming Annual General Conference of the NBA.
Thousands of lawyers had signed a petition for the NBA to remove Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, from the list of speakers due to his government’s failure to stop the killings in Southern Kaduna, and his alleged human rights record.
The summary of the petition against el-Rufai, which was started by Usani Odum, read, “The senseless killings in Southern Kaduna must stop.
“The political correctness of Governor el-Rufai on national TV is diversionary. It is a reversal to have him speak to lawyers on security, when Governor (Babagana) Zulum of Borno, a better person, can do so.
“We may not be able to do anything to stop the killings, but we can stop the governor from speaking at the NBA-AGC to show our disapproval of the manner he has handled the situation.”
Bowing to pressure, the NBA tweeted its decision on Thursday, “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to the Kaduna State Governor, H.E. Nasir el-Rufai by the 2020 Annual General Conference Planning committee be withdrawn and a decision communicated to the governor.”
Also, the Dutse branch of the NBA, among others, has threatened to boycott the 60th virtual conference which holds between August 26 and 29, 2020, if el-Rufai is not re-invited.
In an interview with The Punch on Saturday, August 22, the president of the Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria, Ibrahim Abikan, said his association has objected to having Obasanjo and Wike as speakers at the conference because they are allegedly guilty of the same allegations filed against Governor el-Rufai.
“We insist that if any standard is set for withdrawing el-Rufai, the same should apply to other speakers too. El-Rufai is a public officer and any other person who has the same record of allegations of human rights abuses should also be disqualified. We expect that the same standard should apply to Obasanjo and Wike.
People have started forwarding petitions to me of allegations of human rights abuses and disrespect for the rule of law against Obasanjo and Wike. They have started forwarding it to NBA Conference Planning Committee and the NBA as a body.
Our position is that whoever is going to be speaker should be able to give us a quality presentation.” Abikan said.
The immediate past president of MULAN, Funminiyi Adeleke, in a separate interview, also condemned the decision of the association’s leadership to disinvite Governor el-Rufai. He argued that Obasanjo and Wike do not have the pedigree to be speakers at the AGM.
“We looked at the parameters upon which el-Rufai was dis-invited. Other speakers on that platform are equally guilty. For instance, Obasanjo is one of the worst abusers of human rights in Nigeria. We know what happened at various times when he was in the military and when he came back as a civilian leader.
He doesn’t have the pedigree to be a speaker.
What of Wike? Wike is the first governor to declare his state as a Christian state, which is an affront to Section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution which states that no state shall adopt a religion as the state religion.
But even when confronted, Wike continues to say that Rivers is a Christian state. He has committed a lot of atrocities – he destroyed mosques, hotels, he did a lot of things and we have a catalogue on them.
Our position is that the NBA should drop Obasanjo and Wike and get any other person because if you dis-invited el-Rufai for disregard for the rule of law, the two other speakers on the platform are equally guilty.” Adeleke said