By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
An Islamic human rights group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) said it has uncovered a subterranean attempt by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to replace Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State with the Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum. Recall that a tornado of criticism greeted NBA’s dropping of El-Rufai from the list of speakers at its 2020 Virtual Annual General Conference (AGC) which is billed to take place from 26th to 29th August, 2020.
Meanwhile MURIC, which previously called on Northern lawyers to boycott the conference has cautioned NBA against any attempt to divide Nigerian Muslims. The group also asked the conference organisers to disinvite Governor Wike of Rivers State in view of the latter’s acts of executive impunity. These were contained in a press statement issued by the Director of the organisation, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Sunday, 23rd August, 2020.
“The alleged attempt to replace Governor El-Rufai with the Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum has already failed. It is sheer divide et impera. It is dead on arrival. It has suffered the same fate as attempts to separate Muslims of the South from their brothers in the North. It will never work.
“The hadith describes Muslims as a single building wherein all parts of the structure support one another or as the anatomy of a man in whom all other parts feel the pain whenever a single part suffers dislocation. Our message to NBA is this: You cannot honour a Muslim to add salt to the injury of another Muslim.
“NBA wants to rob Peter to pay Paul. It has backfired. Already, some states in Northern Nigeria have already threatened to pull out of the fast-approaching virtual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) over the dropping of Governor Nasir El-Rufai from the list of speakers. These include Bauchi, Jigawa, Kaduna and still counting.
“Our advice to the NBA leadership is to do the needful. Apologise to El-Rufai and re-invite him. He has been unjustly treated. NBA still has 72 hours to go. It is not too late to eat the humble pie. NBA acted in bad faith. The planning committee should have done its home work properly. It is a failure of logistics.
Besides, it is extremely immoral to ask El-Rufai to stay away after inviting him in the first place. Afterall, he did not lobby for the lecture. Put yourselves in his place and stop grandstanding. Or was the invitation a trap all along? Was it an attempt to score Southern Kaduna another undeserved political point? If so, it is a gross miscalculation. NBA must go back to the drawing board.
MURIC also decried the inclusion of Governor Nyesom Wike in the list of speakers at the conference.
“NBA has no business inviting Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to speak at its conference. Wike’s excesses are legend. When it comes to democratic norms, Wike is a square peg, NBA is a round hole. Wike and NBA should not be seen together.
“Wike is a serial violator of the constitution. How can the NBA have anything to do with a governor who declared his state a Christian state contrary to Section 10 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution which forbids such? On the strength of that illegal, unlawful, illegitimate and unconstitutional declaration, the Trans Amadi Mosque was demolished in August 2019.
“The demolition of Prudent Hotel, Alode in Eleme and Etemeteh Hotel in Onne on 10th May, 2020 by Wike’s bulldozers should have served as caution for NBA. The conference organisers should not have touched Wike with a long pole. Wike is unpredictable. He has no respect for either rule of law or protocol.
“We remind NBA of the April 8, 2020 Caverton helicopter saga in which Wike jailed two pilots and their ten passengers for six weeks in spite of appeals from several quarters. We are disappointed that NBA is romancing with a power-drunk leader. It is better for NBA leadership to ride on the back of a tiger than to allow an unpredictable governor to speak at its conference.
“Again, how innocent is Wike in the ‘Rivers of blood’ hullabaloo? Is NBA endorsing all these executive recklessness? Is NBA also waging war on Islam? Why wasn’t Wike’s act of impunity considered before he was invited? Nigerian Muslims strongly oppose the invitation extended to Governor Wike. He is coming to vomit deadlier venom on Islamdom. NBA leadership has a moral burden and the vicarious responsibility for any untoward utterance of Wike at the conference.
“By asking Wike to speak at this august gathering in August, NBA has endorsed fascism and totalitarian dictatorship in the Nigerian political architecture. If the law body cannot dissociate itself from Wike’s political fiefdom by stopping him from speaking at its conference, disinviting El-Rufai is the Mother of All Injustice.