Masses of lawyers have threatened to boycott the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 60th Annual General Conference scheduled to take place between August 26 and August 29, 2020.
This came after the NBA announced in a statement that Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai is one of the main speakers for the conference that will take place online, due to the physical restrictions imposed by the coronavirus outbreak. However, an online campaign against the governor’s involvement started to gather steam.
Many lawyers who registered for the conference have asked the association to remove the governor from its line-up of speakers, stating that he is a bad fit for the NBA’s image. Lugard Tare-Otu who is a lawyer and partner at Assangha Tare-Otu, a law firm with offices in Lagos and Port Harcourt reported that the governor lacks sympathy and a sense of justice which are values the NBA stands for.
“In my opinion, Governor El-Rufai stands for everything which is against the rule of law. There are at least two to three court judgments which have held that he wrongfully caused the arrest and incarceration of people, in violation of their rights, and damages were awarded in favor of the people who were incarcerated,” said Tare-Otu.
The lawyers also noted that the governor has not done enough to control the situation in Southern Kaduna, accusing him of being absent on duty. Moreover, he was reportedly accused of supporting the killings or gives a free pass to the killers in the state.
“I think it sends the wrong message out. Going forward, I believe the NBA should live up to its mandate of being a bulwark against inefficient and poor governance,” another lawyer, Itong Washington reported.
Many lawyers said they will not partake in the conference if El-Rufai is not removed on the list of key speakers for the virtual session. “In the event that the Paul Usoro-led leadership of the Bar doesn’t heed our call by withdrawing El-Rufai’s invitation to speak at the conference, then I will be boycotting the conference and plans are afoot for many lawyers to do the same,” added Tare-Otu.