Friday, August 21, 2020 8:12 pm
Paul Usoro, the President of Nigerian Bar Association said on Friday that his hands were tied in the decision of the association to withdraw invitation extended to Governor Nasir-el-Rufai of Kaduna State as one of the speakers in the forthcoming conference of the association.
NBA had withdrew the invitation to El-Rufai following a petition by some lawyers under the aegis of Open Bar Initiative.
The group said the invitation to the governor amounted to a “reward for misrule”, claiming El-Rufai represents the very antithesis of what NBA profess to defend.
But In a letter to Asishana Okauru, director-general of Nigerian Governors Forum, on Friday, Usoro said he takes full responsibility “for the unintended embarrassment and tender my regrets and apologies.”
Usoro who claimed that he has been a friend to El-Rufai since early 1980s said as an elected President of the NBA, he is bound by decisions and directives of National Executive Committee of the Association which approved the decision
He added that he cannot overrule the decision of the NEC, even if he has a contrary view.
Usoro however said the decision of of NEC had no religious or ethnic colouration.
“As I also explained to you, the statutory membership of NEC is made up of all Past Presidents and General Secretaries and 3 (three) members each from each of our 125 Branches. There are also about 120 co-opted members,” the senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said.
“NEC was deliberately made that large by the framers of the Association’s Constitution to accommodate all shades of opinion and thoughts.
“As I further mentioned to you during our teleconference, the invitation of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai was brought up by NEC members at yesterday’s meeting when the TCCP’s arrangements for the 2020 AGC was placed on the agenda for discussions and the preponderance of opinion was that His Excellency should be dis-invited.
“There was indeed a motion that was moved and seconded to that effect. Those who spoke in favor of his attendance, including me, were in the minority. I was personally placed in a very difficult and problematic position.”
Usoro said there was not thing he or the conference planning committee could do in the face of the NEC’s decision.
“Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is a friend that I have known as long ago as the early 1980s and we do have some other very close mutual friends. And yet, I am bound, as an elected President of the NBA, by decisions and directives of NEC to whom I am answerable in my official capacity,” he said.
“There truly was nothing that I or the TCCP could do in the face of NEC’s decision of yesterday.
“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.
“NEC’s decision yesterday had no ethnic or religious coloration or connotation howsoever and whatsoever. In discussing the issue at NEC, nobody talked about religion or ethnicity.”