The outgoing President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Paul Usoro, SAN has said he takes full responsibility for “the unintended embarrassment” that may have been caused by the decision of the National Executive Committee, NEC, to dis-invite Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai from speaking at the forthcoming general conference of the association.
It would be recalled that the NBA withdrew its invitation to el-Rufai yesterday following protest and petitions by some lawyers including Mr Femi Falana who are against the governor’s alleged acts of impunity.
Mr Usoro, hence apologized to the Governor and wrote a letter he addressed to the Director-General of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Asishane Okauru on the issue, conveying his ‘regret and apologies’ to Mallam el-Rufai.
Mr Usoro stated that NEC’s decision had no ethnic or religious coloration or connotations in anyway, as two of those who wanted his name retained in the list of speakers are from the South of Nigeria, while another is a clergy.
He also revealed that some of those who spoke against the governor’s attendance share the same faith with him and are from the Northern part of Nigeria.
According to Mr Usoro, “NEC merely made a judgment that it was not in the best interest of the association to be engulfed in the controversy that trailed the invitation of Mallam el-Rufai for the Conference and that it was best if the safety-valve of dis-inviting the Governor was applied”.
Earlier, the Governor had described the move by the NBA as being unfair and unfortunate, saying he was denied fair hearing.
Before the decision, at least 3000 persons had signed a petition, demanding the governor’s removal from the list of speakers at the annual event, condemning his perceived handling of the killings in southern Kaduna.
NBA says it holds all governors, including el-Rufai in high esteem and it seeks to douse ethnic and religious passions said to have arisen over NEC’s decision.