The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has criticised the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for dropping Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, from the list of speakers at its 2020 annual general conference.
MURIC, in a statement by its director, Ishaq Akintola, described the NBA’s action as “parochial, myopic and jejune”.
The umbrella association for Nigerian lawyers had dropped El-Rufai in response to protests by its members and other rights activists.
The protesters had said El-Rufai was unfit to speak before the legal professionals for allegedly failing to serve justice to the Christian-dominated Southern Kaduna people who are being killed by bandits.
But responding, Akintola said the NBA, by its action, had “declared war on the other side in the Southern Kaduna crisis.”
The Islamic group also called on lawyers from the Northern part of the country to boycott the event.
Akintola said, “The fact that NBA took the ill-advised step on account of a petition written by a group, Open Bar Initiative whose main fear is expressed as ‘One can be sure that he will also use the given platform to advance his conflated narrative, designed to deceive and confuse the nation on the real causes of the killings’ exposes NBA’s impatience, intolerance and self-conceit.
“Is it not better to hear him out than to lock him out? Is it not better to jaw-jaw than to war-war? The departure of the ambassador, they say, is the beginning of war. By dropping El-Rufai, NBA has declared war on the other side in the Southern Kaduna crisis. By so doing, it lost a golden chance to be part of the solution to the conflict. NBA has elected to be part of the problem.
“Was it not Jane Goodall who said, ‘Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right’? Change cannot come through rejection and exclusion.”
Earlier, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), popularly known as Shiites, had commended the NBA for withdrawing El-Rufai’s invitation, saying the governor was an “agent of impunity” and as such “is the most unsuitable person to talk to a body of learned men considering his legendary disrespect for the rule of law, blatant abuses of fundamental rights and intolerance to opposing views.”
Newsmen had reported that Governor El-Rufai had said he was “not agitated” by the withdrawal of his invitation to speak at the NBA event, saying he “did not seek the platform” and hence was not bothered that he had “one less speaking engagement.”