Muslim Lawyers to boycott NBA conference over El-Rufai removal as Speaker

Kaduna State Chapter of the Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN), has directed its members to boycott the Annual General Conference (AGC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), 2020 over the withdrawal of Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s invitation to speak at the conference.

This is just as the Supreme Council For Shari’ah in Nigeria said, the treatment meted out to El-Rufai, has cast a terrible smelly smear on NBA, which it said was until recently, regarded as representing the best ideals of justice, equity the good conscience of the society.

The MULAN executive while addressing a press conference in Kaduna on Saturday also called on Muslim Lawyers across the country to boycott the conference, arguing that, the decision of the NBA NEC is deemed by MULAN Kaduna Branch as being parochial, sentimental, disuniting and tainted with favouritism and ethnoreligious considerations.

Vice-Chairman of the association, Abbas Ma’sanawa who read the MULAN position to journalists said, they were
bewildered and disappointed at the unfortunate dis-invitation Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai.

According to him, “The MULAN Kaduna Branch has watched with dismay how the NBA has kept mute in the face of genocide going on in the North East, Banditry and Kidnappings in Katsina, Zamfara, Niger, and the Kebbi States, and Giwa and Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State with the NBA giving surreptitious ethnic cover to Southern Kaduna as if lives matter more in some parts of the country over the others.

“MULAN Kaduna makes bold to say that lives lost in Batsari, Katsina State far outnumbers that of 8 local governments of Southern Kaduna put together. This isn’t to say MULAN Kaduna justifies losses of lives anywhere ard in any guise. MULAN Kaduna wonders where was the posturing of NBA at the many lives lost in Borno State?

“Without mincing words, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 precisely, Section 10 states in clear terms that “the Government of Federation or of any state shall not adopt any religion as a State Religion”. We are witnesses to how Governor Nyesom Wike demolished a Mosque and came out openly to say, ‘I repeat once again without apologies, Rivers is a Christian State. That is why nobody can touch us”.

“We believe that NBA NEC deemed these utterances glorious hence the lofty invitation to Nyesom Wike to use cur hallowed platform to propagate his governance inklings and dis-invitation of Governor El-Rufai. MULAN Kaduna Branch believes what is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander.

“The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro, SAN said, “NEC’s decision yesterday had no ethnic or religious colouration or connotation howsoever and whatsoever”. MULAN Kaduna Branch asks Mr. President if the topic: Who is a Nigerian? has anything to do with Southern Kaduna. An honest answer in this direction would reveal the clandestine motive of the NBA.

“The Paragraph 7 of the Letter of Mr President requesting the Governor’s Forum to communicate the dis-invitation to His Excellency, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai is certainly sinister as MULAN Kaduna wonders if the letter inviting him was routed through the Governer’s Forum in the first place! What stops Mr. President from sending the letter of dis-invitation to Governor El-Rufai directly?

“At any rate, the impression earlier created before the emergence of NBA President’s Letter to the Nigerian Governor’s Forum (NGF) was that the decision had been communicated to Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai directly.

There is certainly more to it than meet the eye in the circumstances and to be modest, the NBA President’s assertion as contained in the letter to the NGF cannot be far from the truth as to the ethnic-religious drive in the whole of what has played out.

“In conclusion and 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 AGC and enjoins all Muslim Lawyers in Nigeria to join in the boycott.

“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.

“While we pray for the repose of the souls of all the innocent victims of the gruesome killings across the country, we pray Allah SWT to grant our leaders the will to use all the legal machinery of State in Nigeria to bring to book all perpetrators of heinous crimes and violence in Southern Kaduna-in particular and Nigeria in general, Ameen,” said MULAN.

However, the Supreme Council For Shari’ah in Nigeria in its own statement signed by the Secretary-General, Nafi’u Baba-Ahmed, also a lawyer said, withdraw of El-Rufa’i’s invitation by NBA is irresponsible.

The Islamic body said, “the 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.

“The decision was taken by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to delist Mal. 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.

“We want to believe that the decision is not representative of all its right-thinking members. For, clearly it has already taken a 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
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 the 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 a 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,” the Council said.

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