The Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria, Kaduna branch, has threatened to boycott the upcoming NBA Conference after the invitation to speak, extended to the Kaduna governor, Nasir El-Rufai, was withdrawn by the leaders of the association.
Mr El-Rufai had been scheduled to participate in a panel discussion at the virtual NBA conference, slated for August 26-29. His inclusion, however, sparked protests among several lawyers who pushed for his removal as a participant.
The NBA subsequently caved in and withdrew the invite.
At a press briefing in Kaduna on Saturday, by the group’s chairman, Abbas Masanawa, the state’s Muslim lawyers insisted that the NBA did not give the governor a fair hearing.
“The said decision of the NBA NEC is deemed by MULAN Kaduna Branch as being parochial, sentimental, disuniting and tainted with favouritism and ethno-religious considerations.
“The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro, SAN said, ‘NEC’s decision yesterday had no ethnic or religious colouration or connotation howsoever and whatsoever.’ MULAN Kaduna Branch asks Mr President if the topic: Who is a Nigerian? has anything to do with Southern Kaduna. An honest answer in this direction would reveal the clandestine motive of the NBA.”
Hence, he said its members will not be attending the conference.
Earlier, the Jigawa State branch of the NBA had also threatened to boycott the event “if El-Rufai is not recalled.”
In a statement signed by its chairman, Garba Abubakar, the branch also said the governor “was not given the opportunity to defend himself”.
Paul Osoro, the NBA president, had defended the association’s action.
He had said in a letter to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, on Friday, that majority of the members of the Nigerian Bar Association’s National Executive Committee voted in favour of dis-inviting Governor El-Rufai to the association’s annual general conference.
Mr Usoro, in the letter, also apologised to Mr El-Rufai.
According to Mr Usoro, Mr El-Rufai’s invitation to the conference was brought up by the NEC members during their meeting on Thursday.
“There was indeed a motion that was moved and seconded to that effect,” said Mr Usoro, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“Those who spoke in favour of his attendance, including me, were in the minority. I was put in a difficult and problematic position.”
Meanwile, the man at the centre of the storm, Mr El-Rufai, had downplayed the matter when he said the development would not deter him from speaking on national issues, even as he said he was doing his best to ensure peace and security in the troubled state.