Noah Ebije, Kaduna

The Kaduna State chapter of Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN) has concluded arrangements to boycott the forthcoming virtual annual general conference of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) over the controversial withdrawal of the invitation to Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai as one of the guest speakers on the occasion.

Members of the national body of NBA were sharply divided following the invitation extended to El-Rufai to grace the occasion, with some of them accusing the Governor of human rights violations over the years, concluding that it would be inappropriate for the Governor to address the body of lawyers.

Addressing journalists on Saturday, the Vice Chairman of MULAN, Abbas Masanawa, said the decision of NBA to dis-invite El-Rufai to the conference was ‘parochial, sentimental, disuniting and tainted with favouritism and ethnoreligious considerations.’

Masanawa said the Kaduna State branch of MULAN, which has over 500 members, has decided to boycott the annual event unless El-Rufai is re-invited.

‘In view of the unfortunate decision of the NBA NEC, MULAN Kaduna State branch is left with no option than to instruct it’s members to withdraw their participation in the forthcoming NBA Annual General Conference (AGC) and enjoins all Muslim Lawyers in Nigeria to join in the boycott,’ he said.

‘MULAN Kaduna branch reaffirms their support to Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai in his efforts to stem the tide of insecurity in Kaduna State generally and Southern Kaduna in particular.’

In a similar development, the Supreme Council for Shari’ah in Nigeria (SCSN) has blasted the leadership of NBA for not being fair to El-Rufai by delisting him from attending the conference.

A statement issued by the Secretary-General of SCSN, Nafi’u Baba-Ahmad, said the action of NBA has dented its image as a responsible association that represents the conscience of society.

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‘The decision taken by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to delist Malam Nasiru Ahmad El-Rufa’i, the Executive Governor, Kaduna State, as one of the speakers at its virtual annual national conference is, to be charitable, regrettable and irresponsible of an institution of which I had hitherto been a proud member for over 40 years.

‘This unfortunate development has cast a terrible smelly smear on the NBA, which until recently, was controversially regarded as representing the best ideals of justice, equity the good conscience of the society.

‘We want to believe that the decision is not representative of all its right-thinking members. For, clearly
it has already taken side in the Southern Kaduna crises, contrary to its members training and what it loudly preaches, without listening to the narrative from the other side.

‘Clearly, lowly narrow political and religious Sentiments have beclouded the judgement of the leadership of the NBA, forgetting the most basic principle of their training and that its members cut across all sides of the divide.

‘While we are pained by the decision of the Jigawa State Branch of NBA to boycott the conference, we also believe it is not totally unjustified in this circumstance.

‘We will be surprised if other Northern State chapters of NBA do not boycott 1he event too, to protest this unfortunate and ill-advised decision to exclude Governor El-Rufa’i, also a member of the NBA, for no justifiable reason in Law or common sense, by the leadership of the NBA.

‘For the association to have taken side in a conflict in such a blatantly pedestrian manner is demeaning of its status. It is a 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 colouration, and taking sides, without any fair hearing.’