By Sylvester Udemezue
“If the pot of wine the groom’s family is taking to the bride’s family, would when it gets to the bride’s family, cause or be a source of quarrel and misunderstanding between the two families (in-laws), it is better that the pot of wine breaks on the road/way (before it gets to the bride’s family compound) to avert the quarrel and keep intact the cordiality and love between the two families.”(my village proverb)
As a member of the NBA 2020 TCCP that had invited Mallam El Rufai to speak at the forthcoming NBA Annual General Conference, and also a member of the NBA NEC that later cancelled (by an overwhelming majority decision) the invitation to Mallam El Rufai, I think I have first-hand information to hand out in order to set records straight and correct unfortunate false impressions being needlessly created, because I know much of what had transpired, although, I must say, I speak, herein, for neither the TCCP nor for the NEC, being not any certified or informal spokesperson for either, nor under any authority thereof. However, my personal opinion is not the issue here; the important thing is what actually transpired at the NBA NEC meeting of 20 August 2020, at which I was present, from start to stop. The meeting had lasted about 8 long hours; so, there was nothing hasty and nothing premediated or pre-planned; it was one of the most transparent, most peaceful, orderly, and most mature NBA NEC meetings in history, as far as I know, and was heavily attended by many NEC representative and members (traditional or co-opted) from NBA branches across the length and breadth of Nigeria. If one was at the meeting, one would only shudder at (and indeed, have pity on) those who now try to give the innocent dog a bad name in this vain attempt to hang it. On my part, speaking the truth, as it is, undiluted, is what I have set out here to achieve. May God help me to achieve this aim in a country that appears to have defied all reason and rationality, graciousness and enlightenment. Amen! But, trust me, from what I have seen and read in the last couple of days, especially coming from a handful of people who are, or are deemed to be, members of an honorable and noble profession, I am being tempted to conclude (although I try to resist the temptation) that a great country is in a deep trouble; I would not add “there was a country” (although the temptation is there, which I resisted), but it would take the honest and concerted efforts of men and women of goodwill to drag Nigeria out of the doldrums. The profundity of our predicament is execrably stifling, suffocating, choky; but I do not want to “faint.” Anyway, I leave this aspect as part of “a topic for another day,” as in an “off the mic, is okay” style.
The 60th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA-AGC 2020) kicks off in a few days, precisely on 26 August 2020. More than 18,409 Nigerian lawyers have already registered to participate in the (2020) Conference. This is an improvement on the record of registration and attendance for the NBA-AGC 2019, which had over 12,000 registered participants. While the NBA-AGC 2019 was the most widely attended conference in the history of the NBA, the forthcoming NBA-AGC 2020 has surpassed the record set by the NBA-AGC 2019, and indeed broken all records with a registration record of over 18,409 lawyers as of 11.00pm on 23 August 2020. The Conference which has over five sponsors, is scheduled to showcase over 68 speakers and 28 Sessions.
Major Speakers at the Conferences include Professor Yemi Osibanjo, SAN, GCON, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, Hon. Justice Tanko Muhammad, CFR, Right Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, Governor Nyesom Wike, Ike Ekweremadu, CFR Ph.D, Brian Speers (President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA)), Hon. Dame Linda Dobbs (D.B.E., BSc, LLM, PhD. Director of Training at the Judicial Institute for Africa), Dr George Agyekum Donkor (President, ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID)), Steven Richman (Former Chair, American Bar Association Section of International Law), Tony Blair (Executive Chairman of the Tony Blair Institute and former UK Prime Minister), LORD ANGUS GLENNIE, QC (Of the Privy Council & Judge Of the Appellate Court of Scotland), Chief JK Gadzama, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, Abimbola Akeredolu, SAN, Kamal Shah (Partner and Head of Africa and India Groups at Stephenson Harwood), Kemi Pinheiro SAN, FCIArb, Muhammad Nuruddeen Lemu, Paula Hodges, QC (Partner and Head of Global Arbitration Practice, Herbert Smith Freehills & President of the LCIA Court), Prof. Githu Muigai (Former Attorney General of Kenya and Senior Partner at Mohammed Muigai LLP), F. Boma Ayomide Alabi, OON, MCIArb, Prof. PLO Lumumba (of Kenya), LLD, Paul Usoro, SAN, Prof. Konyin Ajayi, SAN, Kayode Ajulo, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Mukund Dhar (Partner, White & Case LLP), Andrew Skipper (Partner and Head of Africa Practice, Hogan Lovells), Professor Ayodele Atsenuwa, Olawale Fapohunda (Attorney-General of Ekiti State), Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu, Hon. Rakiya Tanko Ayuba-Haruna, Ali Malik, SAN, among many others. You may wish to have a look at the list of all speakers at the Conference: https://conference.nigerianbar.org.ng/speaker/list.
The Technical Committee for Conference Planning (TCCP), the committee saddled with the responsibility of planning, organizing and executing the NBA-AGC 2020, had invited Mallam Nasir El Rufai, current Governor of Kaduna State, as one of the Speakers at the Conference. However, following the controversy that trailed the invitation and protests by many lawyers, which protests were drawn to the attention of the NBA National Executive Committee (NBA NEC) during its quarterly meeting on 20 August 2020, many members of the NEC spoke in support of a motion proposing that the invitation to Mallam El Rufai be rescinded to allow peace to reign. A decision was then taken by an overwhelming majority to cancel the invitation. This decision was thereafter communicated to His Excellency, as well as to the Nigerian Governors Forum (at its instance), and the NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN, expressed his regrets to His Excellency over the NEC decision, which the NBA President could not help. Also, in a statement widely published on 21 August 2020, the NBA President had taken the pains of explaining the decision of the NBA NEC to the public, to leave no one in doubt. A fair summary of the gravamen of the Statement issued by the NBA President could be made thus:
The NEC decision is devoid of political, ethnic, and religious undertones; the decision to cancel the invitation was that of majority of the members of the NEC present at the meeting, and not that of the NBA President. The NEC is the highest decision-making organ of the NBA, second only to the NBA Annual General Meeting (AGM); the NEC decision is neither a judgment on the person of Mallam El Rufai nor an assessment of his leadership of Kaduna State; the NEC decision to cancel the TCCP`s invitation to Mallam El Rufai without first hearing from Mallam El Rufai is not a denial of a fair hearing to Mallam El Rufai because the NEC did not sit in judgment over Mallam El Rufai but had taken a decision targeted at averting all controversy and in line with the wishes of an overwhelming majority of NBA members.
Since the NEC decision was made public, several individuals and organizations have spoken, many in support of, and some against, the decision. Besides, two NBA Branches (Bauchi, and Birnin Kebbi), as well as the MULAN (Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria), Kaduna State Chapter, have threatened to boycott the NBA Conference if the cancellation is not rescinded. On its part, the Shiites Movement (Islamic Movement in Nigeria) has hailed the NBA NEC decision. And has SERAP (Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project), an international human rights group, based in Nigeria, and the inimitable social and human rights crusader, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN. On its part, a group that goes under the name, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), while condemning the NBA`s decision and urging lawyers of northern extraction to boycott the annual conference, has strangely claimed that the cancellation of Mallam El Rufai`s invitation was “an attack on the other side” in the Kaduna State crisis. A couple of other lawyers have written direct letters to the NBA, alleging (and curiously so) that the cancellation of Mallam El Rufai`s invitation amounted to a “violation” of the Governor`s constitutional rights, and of rule of law. Then came RAMINBA (Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association), led by Mr. Adeshina Ogunlana, which while hailing the cancellation of Mallam El Rufai`s invitation, is now calling for a reciprocal cancellation of similar invitations to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor Nyesom Wike, claiming that the duo were notorious for their proclivity for violation of rule of law.
The irony of NBA`s cancellation of Mallam El Rufai`s invitation is that while the decision was taken to avert controversy, the decision itself has seemingly engendered an altogether different kind and face of controversy. It is to this second-generation controversy and the various claims by the various groups and individuals calling for a reversal of the NBA NEC`s decision, that the present commentary is directed. In it, the present commentator takes a dispassionate look at the NBA NEC decision and at some of the reasons given by those now calling for its reversal, as well as at the legal and other implications of all issues and upshots. By way of conclusion, pieces of counsel are offered to those who have ears to hear, although (as experience has shown) our problem in not hearing is not that we do not have ears; it is just that most of us do not use them.
A Democratic Decision
Whether anyone thinks that the NBA NEC is “right” or “wrong” in its decision to cancel Mallam El Rufai`s invitation, the fact remains that, it has made a decision, supported by majority of its members, and no outsider is entitled to make, take or unmake NBA`s decisions for the NBA. Besides, the NEC`s decision was a democratic decision. Democratic decisions are not about right or wrong; they are about majority and minority. Where a decision is supported by the majority, it is a good decision and it stands, although the minority may have had its say during debates, before decision. Another angle to democratic decisions is that once an organization has taken a decision, supported by majority, the decision is binding on every member of the organization. Take as an example, when the law requires that the decision of a legislature be backed up by the vote of at least a simple majority or a two-thirds majority of its members, what this means is that a decision, resolution or vote need not be supported by all members of the legislative house. Nevertheless, when once a vote has been passed, such a vote becomes binding on all members, and is deemed to have been passed by all. It is therefore an act of insubordination, disrespect and irresponsibility, and a raw display of unreasoned rascality for any NBA Branch in Nigeria to purport to publicly disown or dissociate itself from a resolution of the NBA NEC, the second highest decision-making organ of the NBA. I shall return to this.
A Nonpartisan, Unprejudiced & Nonaligned Decision
With due respect, anyone, any lawyer associating the NBA NEC resolution on El Rufai with religion, politics or ethnicity is an enemy to his country, an enemy of progress and civility and an enemy of the NBA. However one sees the decision (beauty is in the eye of the beholder), one thing is beyond question; the decision was made but wholly free of any religious, ethnic, political, or sectional considerations, and not calculated to insult, condemn, or otherwise judge the person of El Rufai. Specifically, NBA’s rescission of the invitation to El Rufai was not influenced by, and has nothing to do with, the latter`s handling of the southern Kaduna crisis, nor with his rule of law rating. If my human memory serves me right; the motion to disinvite El Rufai was moved by a lawyer from the north, and seconded by a lawyer from the north, although many others had risen to second the motion. About 60 percent of all lawyers that that spoke in favour of that motion are from the north. And all but only one of the three/four lawyers that spoke in favour of retaining El Rufai’s invitation (including Paul Usoro and Reverend Prof Koyin Ajayi, SAN) are Southern Christian Lawyers. Check that out! How then does religion come in? Permit me to refer to a portion of the reaction by Chief Albert Akpomudje, SAN, FCIArb to this whole brouhaha:
“In my humble opinion, it is strange for any group of lawyers to protest the decision of the NBA to withdraw the invitation to El Rufai to speak at the upcoming NBA Conference…. NEC being the highest decision-making body apart from the Annual General meeting of the body it is the competent body that can take such a decision be it right or wrong in the view of anybody. I am also privileged to know that the motion to withdraw the invitation was moved and seconded by lawyers from the North which is indicative that the NBA is not a sectional, tribal or religious body. There is the presumption that he who has the power to appoint can also withdraw such appointment. It was the NBA that decided to appoint El-Rufai to speak at the conference and the NBA also has the power to withdraw the invitation if it deems it fit for good reasons or for no reason at all. Nobody group of persons can question the decision of the body validly taken the way some of the Muslim lawyers are attempting to do. They should have a rethink
Which Constitutional Rights, Please?
The cancellation of the invitation to Mallam El Rufai is nothing to do with breach of any of his rights under the Nigerian Constitution or under any law in Nigeria or elsewhere. As Chief Ferdinand Orbih, SAN has said, an organization`s right to invite a speaker carries with it the right to disinvite the same speaker at any time before the event. If NBA didn’t need to afford El Rufai a fair hearing before extending an invitation to him, then NBA is not obliged to hear him out before cancelling out or withdrawing the same invitation. It is within the exclusive preserve of the NBA to decide who it invites to its events and who it does not. One more thing, as the NBA President has respectfully explained, the decision to invite Mallam El Rufai was that of the TCCP all of whose decisions are subject to approval by the NEC. When the decision was presented to the NEC for its approval, heavy objections were raised against the same and the NEC, by an overwhelming majority vote, resolved/decided to cancel the invitation, in the best interest of Mallam El Rufai. Yes, quote me, the decision to disinvite El Rufai was made majorly in El Rufai`s own interest and because of the high respect the NBA has for him. I shall come to this. As was found during the NEC meeting of 20 August 2020, the invitation earlier extended to Malam El Rufai created serious disagreement, rumbling and rumpus within the NBA; it was this looming controversy that the NBA had chosen to avoid. The NBA has about 128 Branches across Nigeria, each of which is represented at NEC by no fewer than 3-4 lawyers; it may interest you to know that not even one Branch had (during the meeting) opposed the decision of the NEC to disinvite Mallam El Rufai. And all Branches were invited for, and notified of the meeting and also represented, including the Bauchi and Bernin-Kebbi Branches. This would tell you that the later decision by the Bernin-Kebbi and Bauchi Branches to purport to boycott the forthcoming NBA Conference on account of the disinvitation of Mallam El Rufai, is not only utterly disrespectful to the NEC and the entire NBA membership, but is also a show of double-standard, affectation, and hypocrisy. With due respect to these Branches, their actions are in the form of approbating and reprobating at the same time. How could a Branch that was present during the NEC meeting and had supported the NEC decision, thereafter pretend to be against the same. As I have pointed out above, even if any Branch had opposed the motion during the debate, once a decision had been taken one way or the other, supported by the majority, such a decision is binding on all and sundry. That Bauchi and Birnin-Kebbi Branches would later start pretending to be El Rufai friends or to be lovers and defenders of El-Rufai, by openly rebelling against the NBA NEC and the NBA, is to say the least, reprehensibly unfortunate. And Mallam El Rufai ought to be careful with people like that.
A Decision Bigger Than the NEC Leadership
The leadership of the NEC, and of the TCCP, had made frantic attempts to save the day. But majority of Nigerian Lawyers, as represented by the of NEC membership, were opposed to the invitation; NBA NEC was therefore bound by the opinion of majority of its members; hence the ensuing resolution.
A Decision in the Interest of Mallam El Rufai
As I said earlier, the disinvitation is in the best interest of Mallam El Rufai; it’s a kind of show of respect for the Governor. Some years ago, Mr. Lai Mohammed (Nigeria’s Minister of Information, then and now) had been invited by the NBA TCCP, to address a particular NBA-AGC. Unfortunately, the session at which Mr. Lai Mohamed appeared nearly turned into a mob-scene as an overwhelming majority of lawyers present openly booed, shouted at Mr. Lai Mohammed in a show of disapproval of his invitation. The Hon Minister was practically “not allowed” to speak as his speech was marred, disrupted by heavy noise on account of lawyers’ insistence that he must leave the scene. The scene is better imagined; it was horrible. I am sure Mr. Lai Mohammed had felt thoroughly embarrassed; everyone could see that on his face as he departed the scene. The message thereafter went out that Lawyers had invited Lai Mohammed just to “insult” him – in the manner of one calling a dog and turning around to beat the dog, which some felt was un-African and un-cultural. Now, I ask, is such an image good for the NBA? In my opinion, no. Further, there is a proverb in my village: “If the pot of wine the groom’s family is taking to the bride’s family, would, when it gets to the bride’s family, cause or be a source of quarrel and misunderstanding between the two families (in-laws), it is better that the pot of wine breaks on the road/way (before it gets to the bride’s family compound) to avert quarrel and keep intact the existing cordiality and love between the two families.” Relating this to the present scenario, although the Hon Minister`s case was not mentioned on 20/08/2020, the NBA NEC had felt that, instead of leaving this invitation and at the end of the day, witnessing or replicating such an unfortunate saga, why not cancel it out and save everyone all the headache. I think the NBA NEC was right; the cancellation of that invitation was solely to avert any avoidable unfortunate embarrassing scenario. His Excellency, Gov El Rufai should please see it from that angle; honestly there was no harm meant – whether covertly or overtly, expressly or impliedly. None at all!
The Fair Hearing Protesters
On the NBA Reform Forum, on 22 August 2020, distinguished learned Professor Ernest Ojukwu, SAN appeared to have been so disenchanted or disturbed by the level of misinterpretation or misemployment of aspects of fair hearing and rule of law that he declared, “Surely, it appears that principles of fair hearing and rule law are largely misunderstood by most Nigerian Lawyers” I agree with the learned Prof. In the present matter, I hear few lawyers also talk about the disinvitation of El Rufai having something to do with a denial of “fair hearing” and “rule of law.” With due respect, such opinions are a gross misrepresentation of rule of law and fair hearing. People who belong to this group ought to immediately proceed on some course to study, all over again, the nature, scope and limits of the concept of fair hearing. Fair hearing becomes relevant only when you act in a judicial or quasi-judicial capacity. One question arises: Does anyone have the constitutional right to be a speaker at the NBA NEC 2020, a domestic affair of the NBA? The answer is a clear No. Any invitation given to any speaker is a mere privilege or favour that is liable to be withdrawn at any time, before the conference. At this juncture, may I again respectfully refer us to the pro-Nigerian legal giant, Chief Ferdinand Orbih, SAN:
“A branch of the NBA has no authority or mandate to speak for the NBA. Bauchi Branch should be advised on this. The Constitution of the NBA makes NEC the highest decision-making Organ of the NBA subject only to Annual General Conference. No Branch has the right to dissociate itself from a decision of NBA NEC. The provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and NBA Constitution referred to in the Bauchi branch Press Release are totally irrelevant to the decision taken by NEC to withdraw the invitation extended to Governor El Rufai to speak at its AGC. In other words, I don’t see how Governor El Rufai’s rights were violated by the decision of the NBA to withdraw the invitation extended to him to speak at its AGC. El Rufai is not entitled to speak at the NBA’s AGC as of right. Inherent in the right to invite is the right to withdraw the invitation.
If the NBA did not hold a hearing before arriving at the decision to invite Governor El Rufai, it is not obliged hear from him before withdrawing the invitation.”
Any Contract Breached by the Disinvitation?
This would depend on whether the NBA had demanded, accepted or taken any monetary or other consideration from El Rufai in exchange for the invitation extended to the latter? Put differently, did Mallam El Rufai, or the Kaduna State Government, purchase any slot to speak at the 2020 NBA-AGC? Is there any binding contract between Mallam El Rufai and the NBA, for Mallam El Rufai to speak the next NBA-AGC? Answers to all these is no; there was/is no contract between El Rufai and the NBA. So, the question of infringement on any right or obligation (contractual or otherwise) does not even arise. Honestly, if the NBA had requested or accepted some (legal) consideration/payment from Mallam El Rufai or from anyone else, in exchange for the invitation to Mallam El Rufai, a binding contract would have come into existence, and the NBA would have been bound to the extent that any unilateral withdrawal of the invitation would have amounted to an actionable breach. Happily, this doesn’t apply here, as this was not the case. It therefore follows that no constitutional, contractual or other rights are breached when an invitation to come and speak is cancelled without prior recourse to the invitee in a situation where the invitee has offered no consideration to keep or retain the invitation. Case in hand, a few weeks ago, I had got a telephone call as well as an email from the leadership of the NBA Ilesa, Branch, Osun State, to participate as a Guest Speaker at its webinar on rule of law, scheduled for September 03, 202. Just thinking aloud, what if, before the event, the Branch calls or writes me to cancel the invitation, for any reason? Would it amount to any breach of my constitutional, contractual or other right? No. We are lawyers, for God`s sake; let’s reason as lawyers. Let’s not raise issues where none exists, because, I am sorry to say this, any lawyer who does not talk and reason as a lawyer falls within the class of lawyers late the afro-music maestro, Fela Anikulapo Kuti would describe as “su egbe.” Let me now, take us back to an aspect of elementary principles of Contract Law, to which we all had been treated during the Year Two in our respective Faculties of Law. In the English case of Routledge v. Grant (1828) 4 Bing 653, Mr. A had made an offer to Mr. B, and had followed it up with a promise to keep the offer open for the next six weeks, within which Mr. B was free to accept the offer to give rise to a binding contract. You remember the formula they used to recite to us then, lol: offer + acceptance + consideration + intention to create legal relations = a binding contract. As it happened in Routledge v Grant, Mr. A was later to withdraw the offer before the expiration of the six-week window, whereupon Mr. B sued Mr. A for breach of contract, alleging that since he (Mr. B) had accepted the offer, though after Mr. A had withdrawn same, a binding contract was already in place. According to Mr. B, Mr. A`s revocation of the offer was null, ineffective, because Mr. A was not entitled to revoke or withdraw the offer until the expiration of six weeks during which he (Mr. A) had promised to leave the offer open. The House of Lords held that Mr. A`s withdrawal of the of offer (although before the expiration of six week, and therefore a breach of his earlier promise to keep the offer open for six weeks) did not amount any breach of contract, as there was yet no binding contract between the parties, reason being that Mr. B did not offer any consideration for Mr. A`s earlier promise to keep the offer open for six weeks. This locus classicus is distinguishable from the court`s decision in the later case of Montford v Scott (1975) Ch. D. 258, where the offeree had paid one pound for the offeror`s promise to keep the offer open for a certain period, with the consequence that the offeror`s purported withdrawal or revocation of the offer before the agreed time, amounted to a breach of contract. Specific performance was granted, the court holding that cancellation of the offer was a breach of contract because the offeree had given some consideration for the offeror’s promise to keep the offer open. My question to Nigerian lawyers; as between these two cases, which one is relevant to the relationship between Mallam El Rufai and the Nigerian Bar Association? Is it not Routledge v, Grant? What then are some of these lawyers talking about? Or, do they care not about law? Where in all these was any intention to create legal relations that could have even given rise to an actionable breach? Or have some forgotten basic principles of contract? NBA, please take note as part of the Continuing Legal Development (CLD) Lecture series!
Disappointing Misconstruction of Reason for Disinvitation
What is more? Some lawyers, while criticizing NBA`s decision, have advanced the wholly flawed argument that, since the topic Mallam El Rufai was invited to speak on, has nothing to do with the Kaduna crises, NBA was wrong to have cancelled the invitation “on account of the Kaduna crisis.” My question in answer to this opinion is, Did the NBA ever say that the invitation to El Rufai was cancelled on account of the Kaduna crisis? For the umpteenth time, the cancellation of Mallam El Rufai`s invitation had/has nothing to do with the Governor`s human rights` records, or with his rule of law rating. The NBA NEC did not consider such or any related issues because, as I said earlier, NEC never sat in judgment or condemnation against El Rufai.
Extent of Application (if any) of “Sauce for the Goose is Sauce for the Gander”
Some others have argued that the cancellation of the invitation to Mallam El Rufai was an act of partiality, since, according to them, the NBA had failed to cancel those of Governor Wike of Rivers State, and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (ex-President of Nigeria). According to this school of thought, both Chief Obasanjo and Gov Wike are, like El Rufai, unrepentant “disrespecters of rule of law.” However, with due respect, supporters of this narrow perspective have chosen to ignore the real reason for the NBA NEC`s decision to disinvite Mallam El Rufai. First, there was no iota of protest by any NBA member or group of NBA members, against the invitation to Chief Obasanjo and or Gov Wike. Hence, cancellation of their invitation did not even arise for discussion during the NEC meeting. How then could anyone (who truly is a lawyer) expect the NBA NEC to have taken a decision or passed a resolution, on any issue that did not come before it for discussion? May I again ask, these people that are peddling all these malicious falsehood and malevolent propaganda, are they really lawyers? If they are, wouldn’t they try and at least reason as lawyers? Why did they not bring up during the NEC meeting, the issue of Obasanjo or of Gov Wike? Were their NBA branches not represented at the NEC meeting? Or, were their representatives snoozing, benumbed, or hypnotized during the eight-hour-long NEC meeting? Anyway, I must add that some lawyers need to go afresh to study “practice and procedure at meetings” as part of the Continuing Legal Development series. NBA, over to you
Counclusion & Counsel
At this juncture, may I respectfully observe that I sincerely appreciate how His Excellency feels, being a politician. To a typical Nigerian traditional politician, everything (even the inconsequential) does matter. Aware of this, and on our behalf, the NBA President (Paul Usoro, SAN) had soon after the NBA NEC meeting, expressed NBA’s apologies for the turn of events, since it was a situation he (Mr. President) could not help. That, I had thought should have averted or ended all this brouhaha. But not in Nigeria, a country where the bizarre is archetypal. I respectfully advise that His Excellency ought to call to order those unreasoning and affectatious fans of his, who are trying to use the present scenario to unnecessarily and shamelessly evoke or provoke embers of ethnic, religious, political or sectional division and disharmony among Nigerians and among Nigerian lawyers. For deviant lawyers who in their grandstanding, needlessly import into the present scenario, wholly unconnected and extraneous matters, I urge you to have a rethink, as no one person or group owns the NBA; NBA`s decisions are binding on all NBA members and groups within the NBA, and no one or group should think that he/she/it can frighten or bully the NBA. NBA is bigger than any of its members, and any group within the association. Cancellation of an invitation to anyone should not be allowed to cause disharmony within the NBA. On the other hand, no one should insult or attack the person of His Excellency, Mallam El Rufai, on account thereof, and no one should misinterpret or misemploy the disinvitation as a rejection, condemnation of His Excellency; NBA has nothing against Mallam El Rufai, and has not passed any judgment against him. Nevertheless, the NBA is entitled to organize its affairs the way the majority of its members think is the best for the Association, and without this pointless hullabaloo, just as the NBA is bound to listen to its members, which is what it has done in this case.
Sylvester Udemezue (udems)
(Member, 2020 TCCP & Member, NBA NEC 2018-2020)