Open Bar Initiative has queried the inclusion of Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, as one of the key speakers in the Nigeria Bar Association Annual General Conference coming up later this month.
NBA had in May stated it will hold the conference slated for August virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speakers at the event include the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo; Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike; Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon Justice Tanko Mohammed.
Other key speakers include former President, Olusegun Obasanjo; former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami; President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Brian Speers, and Director of Training at the Judicial Institute for Africa; Hon Dame Linda, Dobbs.
Reacting to the inclusion of Governor el-Rufai’s name on the list of speakers, Open Bar Initiative in a letter titled ‘Request to Withdraw the Offer of Platform at the 2020 Annual General Conference of the NBA to Mallam Nasir el-Rufai’, and addressed to the Chairman, Technical Committee on Conference Planning, NBA, Prof Koyinsola Ajayi, listed 13 allegations against the governor and his son, Bello, who is a special adviser to Kaduna Central lawmaker, Senator Uba Sani.
The group recalled that el-Rufai had during the run-up to the 2019 general elections threatened that any foreigner, who interfered in the election, would leave Nigeria in “body bags”.
“As you may know, at the end of June 2020, Civic Media Lab, which monitors mortality in Nigeria’s many security crises, declared Kaduna State, which is governed by Mallam el-Rufai as the most dangerous state in Nigeria. As recorded by the organisation, Kaduna’s record of 493 persons killed between January and June is higher than the reported deaths in the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorized territories of Borno; 290, Adamawa; 37 and Yobe; 5. As at today, Southern Kaduna is the most active site of massacres and mass atrocities in Nigeria.
“A major focus of the intolerance of Mallam el-Rufai has been lawyers and the legal profession. In 2016, when he was visited by the then President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Barrister A.B Mahmoud, SAN, Governor el-Rufai threatened to abduct Kaduna lawyer, Ms. Gloria Ballason, because she had criticized him in a news article, a perfectly lawful act of exercising constitutionally protected speech. Ms. Ballason sued to protect her rights and in May 2017 secured a judgment of the High Court of Kaduna State, which found that the governor had indeed violated her rights. The high court awarded also damages against the governor. He refused to pay up. Instead, he instigated another round of violations of the rights of Ms Ballason to practice her vocation as a lawyer. The high court specifically found that they had violated the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers
“On the eve of the presidential elections in February 2019, Mallam el-Rufai took to the television to announce that 66 Fulanis had be massacred in an Adara settlement in Kajuru Local Government Area in Southern Kaduna. The police as well as the National Emergency Management Agency denied that any such incident happened. When Dr Chidi Odinkalu, one of our leading members and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, challenged Mallam el-Rufai to provide proof of his claims, the governor sought to procure his abduction with an order in a case that did not have a suit number,” part of the letter reads.