Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has urged all public officers to learn from the decision of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), to drop Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, as one of the panel discussants at its forthcoming Annual General Conference (AGC).
Speaking at House of Justice Radio/Television network program with the pioneer Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Dr. Tom Adaba, the human rights lawyer noted that El-Rufai might have constitutional immunity as a governor but not immunity to prosecution in the court of public morality.
He said: “This is a great lesson to all public officers in Nigeria that people are watching them even if you believe you enjoy immunity with respect to prosecution, people can prosecute you morally.
“Other public officials should learn from El-Rufai’s experience. This is how to run a country under the rule of law.”
He said NBA had no choice but to respect the feelings of its members that the governor should not be allowed to address a forum of lawyers because he had been associated with disobedience to court orders, abuse of the rule of law and making inciting statements that lawyers believe had contributed to the crisis in Kaduna State.
Falana recalled how El-Rufai as minister for the Federal Capital Territory disobeyed court orders.
He said: “The legal profession suffers from institutional memory. In 2006, we had a 2-day boycott of court to protest disobedience of court orders by the then government.
“We identified 8 court orders that were being disobeyed at that material time. Three out of the 8 were disregarded by El-Rufai who was the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. He has continued to disobey court orders.”
According to him, the government of Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration was so embarrassed by the protest of lawyers and had instructed the then Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, to ensure that the orders being complained about by the lawyers were complied with.
He called for an independent Nigerian Broadcast Commission that would have the capacity to call any government officials who make inciting statements to order.
He asked: “Whose is it to bring public officials to book when they make inciting statements that cause problems with respect to the breach of peace in the country?
“That is why we need an independent NBC, independent in all ramifications who can call out anybody in the broadcasting area so that we can have a country under the rule of law.
“The law must not respect anybody whoever they are unless they respect themselves.”