Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
Constitutional lawyer Dr Kayode Ajulo has called on members of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) to allow Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai speak at its conference, saying that the allegations leveled against the Governor by some members of the legal body are not substantial enough to deny him the opportunity to speak at the conference.
Ajulo, in a statement made available to Daily Sun in Akure, said El-Rufai should be given the opportunity to deny the allegation of lack of respect for the rule of law leveled against him by some members of the association by allowing him speak at the conference.
‘The perceived “exodus” and self-deregistration on the part of some members of the Nigerian Bar Association from the upcoming NBA Annual General Conference, in what appears to be presumptive indignation over the inclusion of the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, as one of the keynote Speakers at the annual bar conference, is a matter that stridently calls for concern and intervention,’ Ajulo said in his statement.
‘In deference to individual idiosyncrasies and perspectives, I am not in the position to cast a stone on the rightfulness or otherwise of El-Rufai’s attendance at the 60th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association.
‘However, having consulted with the leaders of this great institution, I am constrained to dispassionately analyse the issues at hand and weigh in on this burning issue matter as a concerned member of the bar.
‘Before proceeding further, I must confess to a subjective opposition to the inclusion of some personalities designated as speakers at the conference but I cannot say I was tempted to deregister myself from participating in the conference thereby.
‘Further and without prejudice to the various allegations levelled against El-Rufai which includes, among others, the sentiment that he is opposed to the rule of law, I am of the view that it is pertinent to accord him the right of hearing at the conference whereat opportunity will be presented to all to prod, question and appraise at close range, the genuineness or otherwise of the man’s democratic credentials especially as ours is a learned and sophisticated body of people who are expected to be custodians of the law.
‘While the issue at hand is not res integra, it would not be out of place to recall a similar scenario which played out not too long ago at the Annual Conference when the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar was announced as one of the speakers at the conference. His attendance generated a lot of synchronized obloquy due to his alleged involvement in the suspension and undue trial of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen.
‘Although he later could not attend the conference as scheduled, I am certain many more colleagues had actually looked forward to his presence as I had scribbled down several questions to satisfy my inquisitiveness concerning the intrigues that attended the suspension of the former CJN.
‘For the same reason, I want to appeal to all to give El-Rufai a chance to defend himself and his policies just as I have counselled myself to do with the other speakers whose inclusion my heart had revolted against. They must have something to say which may be worth hearing,’ he added.