NBA president apologises to el-Rufai

•Writes Governors’ Forum over NEC’S decision

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has tendered an unreserved apology to governor Nasir el-Rufau of Kaduna State for dis-inviting him as a panellist in one of the sessions of the upcoming NBA Annual General Conference (AGC).

The NBA President, Paul Usoro (SAN), in a letter dated 21st August 2020 and addressed to the Director-General, Nigerian Governors’ Forum said, “Let me once again, through your good offices, tender my unreserved apologies to His Excellency, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, for the unintended embarrassment that may have been caused him by the decision of the NBA National Executive Committee (NEC) decision at its meeting that was held on 20th August 2020, to dis-invite him as a Panelist in one of the sessions scheduled for the upcoming NBA Annual General Conference (AGC).

“As the NBA President, I take full responsibility for the unintended embarrassment and tender my regrets and apologies,” Usoro stated.

The NBA boss explained that the initial decision to invite El-Rufai was made by the AGC’s Technical Committee for Conference Planning (TCCP) of the association without any input from NEC as a body.

He said, the TCCP is itself an organ of NEC and was constituted by NEC at its meeting in December 2019 and answerable to NEC.

The body, he said has a mandatory duty to report its activities to NEC at NEC’s quarterly meetings one of which was held on August 20.

“As an elected National Officer of the Association, I am personally answerable to NEC and cannot overrule its decisions even if I have different viewpoints and positions in regard thereto. TCCP, as an NBA organ, is in precisely the same position and the same applies to all other committees of the NBA.”

According to Usoro, a standard agenda item for the Quarterly NEC Meeting is the Report from the various NBA Sections, Forums and Committees, to the extent that the NBA Committees’ works and activities are on the NEC Agenda, NEC members are at liberty to raise questions, demand clarifications, discuss and give mandatory directives and directions on those works and activities and the Committees are bound by those directives and directions of NEC.

He further explained that the statutory membership of NEC is made up of all Past Presidents and General Secretaries and three members each from each of the 125 Branches of the association, with about 120 co-opted members.

The invitation of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai was brought up by NEC members when the TCCP’s arrangements for the 2020 AGC was placed on the agenda for discussions and the preponderance of opinion was that el-Rufai be dis-invited.

Usoro said that the Kaduna state governor is his close mutual friend and have known him since the 1980s adding that, “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.

“There truly was nothing that I or the TCCP could do in the face of NEC’s decision,” he said and pointed out that the decision of NBA’s NEC had no ethnic or religious colouration or connotation howsoever and whatsoever.

He said, the NBA NEC, by its decision, was not passing any judgment on Mallam Nasir El-Rufai as the body is not in a position to pass such judgments without having all the facts and hearing from all the sides and it did not set out to pass any such judgment.

“I truly would appreciate your bringing this letter to the attention not just of HE Nasir el-Rufai but also to all the other members of the esteemed Nigerian Governors’ Forum and in particular, the Chairman of the Forum, HE (Dr) Kayode Fayemi.

“Please, assure Their Excellencies that the NBA holds all our Governors, including HE Nasir el-Rufai, in the highest esteem and would do nothing intentionally to embarrass them collectively or individually.

“Once again, I offer my sincere and deepest apologies and regrets for the unintended embarrassment that may have been caused to HE Nasir el-Rufai by the afore-referenced decision of the NBA NEC and would appreciate your passing on my regrets and apologies to him personally,” Usoro said.

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