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Deborah Samuel: Ezekwesili, Odinkalu Withdraw From NBA Event Scheduled For Sokoto

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A former minister and human rights activist, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili and a former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission, Prof Chidi Odinkalu have declared their withdrawal from the Nigerian Bar Association event sheduled to hold in Sokoto State over the murder of Deborah Samuel.

Ms Samuel was killed on Thursday for allegedly insulting the Islamic Prophet, Mohammed, an incident that many Nigerians have condemned.

Ezekwesili who was billed to speak at the conference disclosed her withdrawal through her verified Twitter account and urged the NBA to “seize this moment to reflect on how relevant its actions are in a troubled democracy”.

She said, “I have decided to withdraw my Speaking commitment to @NigBarAssoc for its event holding in Sokoto. I was billed to speak from abroad via Zoom but even now will no longer do so.

“This would have been my session at the @NigBarAssoc conference in Sokoto. I shall no longer participate. NBA owes citizens like #DeborahSamuel #EuniceOlawale #BridgetAgbaheme the judicial activism to enforce Justice.”

The Nigerian Bar Association, Section of Public Interest and Development Law had planned to hold its much-awaited annual conference in Sokoto State from May 22-26, 2022 with the theme: “Rule of Law and Democratic Evolution in Nigeria”.

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Similarly, Odinkalu said the effort of the Chairman of SPIDEL, Monday Ubani is not enough and his utterances are unguarded.

“We do not need to be lawyers going to a conference in Sokoto to care about pre-Neanderthal killings of Nigerians anywhere in Nigeria. His line about people lacking locus is a gratuitous insult to traumatised people.

“I was prepared to suspend the final decision on participating in Sokoto until I heard from the leadership of SPIDEL. Having now heard from them, it is clear to me that they do not get the significance of this issue. I am now convinced that I will be unable to accept an invite to participate in the SPIDEL conference.

“So, I, Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, am cancelling my participation. I will, in addition, actively campaign against the meeting. Everyone has to take their own decision. The SPIDEL leadership has taken its decision. I have taken mine. This is a matter of conscience,” the senior legal officer for Africa, Open Society Justice Initiative said.

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