The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has withdrawn an invitation to Governor Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State to speak at its Annual General Conference coming up later this month.
The decision to withdraw the invitation followed a petition against the governor by the Open Bar Initiative, which accused him of intolerance towards lawyers and the legal profession.
The petition was written to the chairman of the Technical Committee on Conference Planning, Prof. Koyinsola Ajaji, earlier this week.
It was however the National Executive Committee of the NBA, which met on Thursday, that made the final decision to withdraw the invitation.
The NBA in a tweet said, “The National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association at its ongoing meeting resolved that the invitation to Kaduna State Governor, H. E Nasir El-Rufai by the Planning Committee be withdrawn and the decision communicated to the Governor. ”
Open Bar Initiative, in its allegations against El-RufI said, “In 2016, when he was visited by the then President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Barrister A.B Mahmoud, SAN, Governor el-Rufai threatened to abduct Kaduna lawyer, Ms. Gloria Ballason, because she had criticized him in a news article, a perfectly lawful act of exercising constitutionally protected speech.
“Ms. Ballason sued to protect her rights and in May 2017 secured a judgment of the High Court of Kaduna State, which found that the governor had indeed violated her rights. The high court awarded also damages against the governor.”
They said, “He refused to pay up. Instead, he instigated another round of violations of the rights of Ms Ballason to practice her vocation as a lawyer. The high court specifically found that they had violated the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.”