The choice of speakers for the forthcoming conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has continued to generate controversy as another group of lawyers asked the association to withdraw the invitation of the ex-president, Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor Nyesom Wike as speakers at the conference.
The lawyers’ demand came barely two days after the NBA withdrew its invitation to Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State after some lawyers protested against his invitation.
The lawyers argued that the choice of El-Rufai at the NBA’s 60th Annual General Conference is a ‘reward for misrule,’ adding that the governor does not represent what the NBA stands for.
It is against the backdrop that another set of lawyers under the aegis of the Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association (RAMINBA) called on the NBA to remove Obasanjo and Wike as speakers from the upcoming conference.
The lawyers argued that both Obasanjo and Wike have acted against the rule of law.
In a statement on Saturday, August 22, 2020, RAMINBA Chairman, Adesina Ogunlana and Secretary, Ayo Ademiluyi accused the ex-president of masterminding Odi massacre in 1999.
The group also accused Wike of destroying properties during the COVID-19 lockdown without a court order.
The statement reads, “We are however baffled that the list of speakers at the conference still retains the names of Balogun Olusegun Obasanjo, retired general and former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as that of Mr Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers State.
“We are persuaded that these men by their antecedents vis-a-vis the respect for and promotion for the rule of law and due process are not fit for an invitation as speakers in a function such as the conference of Nigerian Bar Association, which mantra remains promoting the rule of law.
“Balogun Obasanjo is known in Nigeria’s most recent history to have launched some of the most brutal assaults on the concept of rule of law. Kindly recall that it was Obasanjo, sworn to uphold the constitution of the land, who refused to obey the supreme court order for the release of the N21 billion Lagos state local government funds illegally and oppressively withheld by his administration.
“Despite the popular outcry that the supreme court is obeyed, President Obasanjo arrogantly declined obedience. He remained adamant all through his administration and it was President Yaradua who later complied with the judgement.”
“He is the same governor who ordered the demolition without a court order of two hotels in Rivers state recently. The Rivers states task force under the control of Governor Wike is an agency notorious for violation of human rights of citizens in carrying out their tasks.”
Similarly, lawyers in Bauchi state have called on the NBA to rescind its decision on withdrawal of El-Rufai’s invitation to the conference.
In a statement on Friday, the lawyers said the NBA’s decision contravened section 36 (1) (4) and (5) of the Nigerian constitution that makes provision for fair hearing and presumption of innocence.
The lawyers also said they have resolved to boycott the conference if the NBA fails to rescind its decision.