The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has urged lawyers of northern extraction to boycott the annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) over the withdrawal of the invitation extended to Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai to speak at the event billed for next week.
The NBA had removed the name of El-Rufai from the list of speakers over protest from some lawyers who had threatened to boycott the event.
Reacting to the development, MURIC in a statement on Friday by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, described NBA’s action as parochial, myopic and jejune.
“MURIC calls on all lawyers from the North to boycott NBA’s AGC in protest against this open declaration of war on Northern Kaduna. Every little action of injustice must spark a reaction if tyranny is to be stopped in the world,” Akintola said.
“NBA has crossed the red line in human relations and conflict management. No single lawyer from the North should participate in the AGC either as a resource person or as a participant unless NBA rescinds its decision to drop El-Rufai from the list of speakers. Injury to one is injury to all.
Akintola said by dropping El-Rufai, NBA has declared war on the other side in the Southern Kaduna crisis and has lost a golden chance to be part of the solution to the conflict, adding that the association has further been elected to be part of the problem.
He 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.
“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.
“How justifiable is NBA’s decision to exclude Governor El-Rufai from the virtual conference when people like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of Odi and Zaki Biam fame and Governor Nyesom Wike are among the speakers? Who bulldozed the hotels of innocent people despite court orders? Who visited unspeakable violence on political opponents? Should NBA hobnob with people linked to genocide and undemocratic practices? So why demonise El-Rufai where killers of innocent people and enemies of democracy are idolised?”