INTERNATIONAL PRESS STATEMENT
On Thursday, August 20, 2020, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, National Executive Committee, NEC passed a resolution withdrawing the invitation already given to His Excellency Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State to speak at the ongoing NBA 2020 Annual General Conference. This NBA NEC resolution was based on a petition against Governor El-Rufai by a group known as Open Bar Initiative, OBI.
The nefarious and unsubstantiated allegations contained in the said petition are to say the least very shameful and embarrassing. To make matters worse the NBA NEC considered the petition and passed such a resolution without given Governor El-Rufai fair hearing to hear from him. This act by the NBA NEC is an abuse of due process and an affront on the motto of the NBA, which is to promote the rule of law, which the founding fathers have strived to promote over the years.
The resolution by NBA NEC smacks of being politically motivated aimed at serving a political end. It is disgraceful that a noble Association like the NBA could allow itself to be used in such a manner.
It is shocking to state that the current leadership of the NBA, under Paul Usoro, SAN failed to study the various public interest reports which his predecessor in office handed over to him in August 2018. It would be recalled that in the year 2017, the then President of the NBA, Abubakar B. Mahmoud, SAN led a delegation on a Fact Finding Mission to Southern Kaduna, Kaduna State. That working visit to Kaduna State led to the production of the NBA Comprehensive Fact Finding Mission Report on Southern Kaduna Crisis in 2017. The said Report made recommendations on how to resolve the Southern Kaduna crisis. When Abubakar B. Mahmoud SAN, handed over the Presidency of the NBA to the current President of NBA, Paul Usoro, SAN, in 2018, he handed over the Southern Kaduna Crisis Fact Finding Mission Report for him to follow up and implement. Note that the Fact Finding Mission was carried out from January 16 to 17, 2017.
Unfortunately, the NBA under the leadership of Paul Usoro SAN failed or refused to study the above-mentioned Fact Finding Mission Report of the NBA with a view to implementing the recommendations in the report. The NBA leadership also failed to circulate this Report among NEC members for their perusal before the meeting of August 20, 2020.
We encourage all Nigerians to read and study the above-mentioned Fact Finding Mission Report.
Had the current President of the NBA studied that NBA Fact Finding Mission Report, he would not have guided NEC to pass the ill-advised resolution of August 20, 2020, and the position of NBA-NEC would have been different.
Meanwhile we have it on good authority that the Petition by the OBI was not even addressed to the President of the NBA. The said petition was addressed to the Chairman, NBA Technical Committee on Conference Planning, TCCP, Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi, SAN. We there wonder why the President of NBA took it upon himself to treat a Petition that was not addressed to him at the NEC Meeting.
The circumstances surrounding the handling of this petition by the leadership of the NBA are unbelievable and leave a bitter taste in the palate. The sloppy, incompetent, and malicious manner in which the NBA leadership handled the Petition against Governor El-Rufai shows that there is urgent need for transformational change of leadership in the NBA. The current leadership has failed not only the Bar, the legal profession in Nigeria, but also the general public.
We strongly advocate transformational change for the best within the NBA as an Association, the legal profession and as a Country.
Supporting The Change Group (STC).
Thursday, August 27, 2020.