The Kaduna State branch of the Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria (MULAN) yesterday instructed its members to boycott the forthcoming NBA annual general conference following the association’s decision to disinvite Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
The state Vice Chairman of MULAN, Barrister Abbas Masanawa who addressed journalists on Saturday, also urged other Muslim lawyers across the country to boycott the event in solidarity with El-Rufai.
Their decision, he said, was based on the one-sided narrative of the petition against El-Rufai and the NBA NEC’s decision to side with the petitioners without giving the governor fair hearing.
“The decision of the NBA NEC is deemed by MULAN Kaduna as being parochial, sentimental, disuniting and tented with favouritism and ethnoreligious considerations,” it stated.
“The NBA is giving surreptitious ethnic cover to southern Kaduna as if lives matter more in some parts of the country over others.
“MULAN Kaduna makes bold to say that lives lost in Basari in Katsina State far outnumber those of eight local governments of southern Kaduna put together.
“In view of the unfortunate decision of the NBA NEC, MULAN Kaduna branch is left with no option than to instruct its members to withdraw their participation in the forthcoming NBA conference and enjoins all Muslim lawyers in Nigeria to join in the boycott,” the group said.
It however added that it was not in any way justifying the loss of lives anywhere and in any guise across the country, and in parts of southern Kaduna but urged the state governor to put in more efforts to stem the tide of insecurity in the state.
NBA beclouded by religious, political sentiment – Sharia council
The Supreme Council for Shari’ah in Nigeria (SCSN) has also lent its voice to the controversy surrounding the withdrawal of invitation to governor El-Rufai to speak at the forthcoming NBA conference.
The council accused the NBA of forgetting its most basic principle of training, stressing that it is instead, beclouded by political and religious sentiments.
The council in a statement yesterday in Kaduna stated that the NBA had clearly taken sides in the southern Kaduna crisis contrary to its membership training and what it loudly preaches without listening to the narrative from the other side.
The statement signed by its Secretary General, Nafi’u Baba-Ahmed stated: “The decision taken by the NBA to disinvite Malam Nasiru El-Rufai, as one of the speakers at its virtual annual conference is to be charitable, regrettable and irresponsible of an institution of which I had hitherto been a proud member for over 40 years.”
It stated that the decision had cast a “terrible smelly smear” on the NBA which the council said until recently, was regarded as representing the best ideals of justice, equity and the good conscience of the society.
“For the association to have taken side in a conflict in such a blatantly pedestrian manner is demeaning of its status.
“It is well known fact that the farmers/herders conflict is a phenomenon ravaging the entire country, the very least one would have expected the NBA to do, is to constructively engage the government and all parties towards a resolution; not to pick one with religious and political coloration and taking sides without fair hearing,” he stated.
El-Rufai’s lawyer: NBA’s decision politically motivated
As the controversy surrounding the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA’s) withdrawal of the invitation to Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State to speak at its forthcoming annual conference continues to rage, El-Rufai’s lawyer, Abdulhakeem U. Mustapha (SAN), yesterday said the action of the NBA was politically motivated.
The NBA’s 60th annual general conference is slated virtually from August 26 to 29 with the theme: ‘Step forward.’
In a letter addressed to the NBA president, Paul Usoro, Mustapha (SAN) described the NBA’s decision on El-Rufai as scandalous, saying: “It would certainly not be out of place to insinuate political motives behind this unfortunate decision as the NBA as a professional body which is supposed to be in the fore front of the protection and promotion of the rule of law in Nigeria should know better than this.”
Mustapha said Nigeria would be lost if the NBA, which is expected to serve as the conscience of the nation, is allowed to descends into the realm of partisanship, parochialism, unfounded hearsay and one sided justice.
He described as strange that El-Rufai’s invitation was withdrawn based on one-sided allegations contained in a petition “by the so-called Open Law Initiative which was believed and acted upon by the Annual General Conference Planning Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association without any reference to Governor El-Rufai.”
“The decision taken by the NBA to withdraw the invitation to Governor El-Rufai on the basis of the wild and unsubstantiated allegations contained in the Open Bar Initiative Petition without any reference to the Governor is not only a naked affront on the rule of law but also a contradiction of the NBA’s motto which held itself out as the custodian, defender and guardian Angel of the rule of law in Nigeria,” he stated.
The letter stated that the implications of the NBA’s decision demonstrate a total disregard for the basic constitutional provision of fair hearing which de said is the foundation and bedrock of the rule of law designed for the safeguard of fundamental right and freedom in any civilised and democratic society.
“It therefore beats all imagination that an elitist professional body like the NBA could take a decision that negates the very essence of this fundamental constitutional provision, no matter how tempting or appealing the reason may be,” he stated.
The governor’s lawyer described as unfortunate, the NBA’s constitution of itself into a court and adjudging El-Rufai guilty of all the allegations contained in the said petition without hearing a word from him as well as proceeding to apply the sanction requested by the petitioners which is a withdrawal of the invitation.