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We Don’t Want El-Rufai at Our Conference, Lawyers Protest

Several Nigerian lawyers have registered their discontent over the decision of the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to include Governor Nasir El-Rufai as a guest speaker in the association’s forthcoming annual general conference.

Mr El-Rufai, the Kaduna State governor, is one of the speakers at the conference which holds August 26-29. He is billed to speak in a session titled ‘Who is a Nigerian?… A Debate on National Identity.’

Others billed to speak at the session include Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers State; Peter Obi, the former governor of Anambra State and vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party at the 2019 election; Tunde Bakare, a cleric and chairman, African Advisory Council of the Royal Commonwealth Society; Oby Ezekwesili, an activist and former federal minister; and Salamatu Suleiman, the immediate past ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace and security.

Other speakers at the conference include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and Tanko Muhammad, the Chief Justice of Nigeria; Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president; Ike Ekweremadu, former deputy senate president; and Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation.

The 60th NBA annual general conference, its first-ever virtual event, is themed ‘Step Forward.’

The decision of the NBA leadership to include El-Rufai among the speakers has, however, been greeted with disapproval by several lawyers, some of them announcing their withdrawal from the conference.

“If the association has value for her motto, respect for rule of law, democratic norms and values, it won’t take more than 24 hours to humbly write to Kaduna State governor, El-Rufai, informing him of his substitution as a guest speaker at the AGC,” said Godwin Odimabo, a Port Harcourt-based lawyer.

“If he paid to speak, we should refund him his money. If we paid him to speak, we should bear it as the inconvenience caused him by our withdrawal.”

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