Wednesday, January 26, 2022

NBA Conference: Withdrawing El-Rufai’s invitation has no religious, ethnic colouration – Usoro

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Rayyan Alhassan
Rayyan Alhassan is a graduate of Journalism and Mass Communication at Sikkim Manipal University, Ghana. He is the acting Managing Editor at the Daily Nigerian newspaper, a position he has held for the past 3 years. He can be reached via [email protected], or, or @Rayyan88 on Twitter.
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The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Paul Usoro, has disclosed that the withdrawal of Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai’s invitation to speak at the association’s forthcoming virtual conference has no ethnic or religious colouration.

Recall that on Thursday, the NBA had withdrawn Mr El-Rufai’s invitation to the conference slated for August 26 to 29, following a protest by some lawyers under the aegis of Open Bar Initiative.

However, in a letter dated August 21 and addressed to the Director-General of Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, Asishana Okauru, the president absolved himself of responsibility, saying that the decision was collectively taken by the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the association.

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He said: “As I also explained to you, the statutory membership of NEC is made up of all Past Presidents and General Secretaries and 3 (three) members each from each of our 125 Branches. There are also about 120 co-opted members,” the senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said.

“NEC was deliberately made that large by the framers of the Association’s Constitution to accommodate all shades of opinion and thoughts.

“As I further mentioned to you during our teleconference, the invitation of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai was brought up by NEC members at yesterday’s meeting when the TCCP’s arrangements for the 2020 AGC was placed on the agenda for discussions and the preponderance of opinion was that His Excellency should be dis-invited.

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“There was indeed a motion that was moved and seconded to that effect. Those who spoke in favor of his attendance, including me, were in the minority. I was personally placed in a very difficult and problematic position.”

According to him, there was not thing he or the conference planning committee could do in the face of the NEC’s decision.

“Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is a friend that I have known as long ago as the early 1980s and we do have some other very close mutual friends. And yet, I am bound, as an elected President of the NBA, by decisions and directives of NEC to whom I am answerable in my official capacity,” he said.

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“There truly was nothing that I or the TCCP could do in the face of NEC’s decision of yesterday.

“NEC merely made a judgment that it was not in the best interest of the Association to be engulfed in the controversy that trailed the invitation of Mallam el-Rufai for the Conference and that it was best if the safety-valve of dis-inviting the Governor was applied.

“NEC’s decision yesterday had no ethnic or religious coloration or connotation howsoever and whatsoever. In discussing the issue at NEC, nobody talked about religion or ethnicity.”

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