Biafra

Justice Buba of Federal High Court, Enugu, on Wednesday clarified that the Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB, under the Customary Government is not a terrorist organisation as its not the same as the one proscribed by the FG.

He made this clarification when the matter between Customary Government of the Indigenous People of Biafra, CG- IPOB, Vs. the Federal Government of Nigeria was called  up in the court today.

The counsel to the Federal Government from the Ministry of Justice, Barr. E.E Nwokolo had presented an ‘affidavit of fact’ that IPOB that instituted the case is proscribed and as such, should not be heard by the court. In his reaction to the claim, the  Solicitor General of the CG-IPOB, Barrister Emeka John Chigozie Emekesiri insisted that the IPOB in the suit is under the customary government, answerable to the Supreme Council of Elders.

After listening to both parties, Justice Buba of the Federal High Court-one (the admin judge) quashed the affidavit of fact presented by the counsel to the FG maintaining that the plaintiff has been able to proof that the IPOB in the suit is not a terrorist organisation.

The Judge reserved ruling on “”jurisdiction” for Friday, October 4th, 2019.

The Customary Government of IPOB, had through an ex parte application filed on June 20, 2019, sought the court’s leave and jurisdiction to commence a suit action against the defendants.

Also joined as defendants in the suit, apart from the Attorney General of the Federation, were former Heads of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo and General Yakubu Gowon for their respective roles during and after the civil war in 1967.

In an originating summons in the lawsuit marked FHC/EN/CS/103/2019, the plaintiff, is praying the court to determine whether the direction and/or instruction given to members of the Claimant by President Muhammadu Buhari, on March 5, 2016, on Al Jazeera Television that they should organize themselves and vote to have a State within a State which they have accepted and complied with by organizing themselves has created an obligation on the defendants from which the defendants can no longer withdraw.

The plaintiff’s lawyer also asked the court to determine “whether, by the direction or instruction of the defendants which the members of the Claimant have accepted and complied with as aforesaid, they now have the right to conduct their referendum and vote to have their State of Biafra as a self-governing autonomous region within the Nigerian State just like Scotland governs itself within the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

“Whether, notwithstanding and in the absence of any directions, instructions, promises or offers from the Defendants, the members of the Claimant have the legal and inalienable right to self-determination pursuant to Articles 19 – 25 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (Cap 10 LFN 1990)

“Whether it is an offence and unlawful contrary to any provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 or of any other law whatsoever for the remnants of the Biafrans who survived the war with their descendants to identify themselves as Biafrans by indigenous identity and display their native flags and emblems and Biafran trademarks on their properties and products as they do now whilst remaining loyal to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Nigerian citizens and whether it is lawful for the Defendants to harass, molest, arrest and detain members of the Claimant for identifying themselves as Biafrans with their native emblems.

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“Whether the amalgamation of the members of the claimant with the peoples of other ethnic nationalities in the south and north by the British Government to form one country called Nigeria was with the consent and agreement of the indigenous peoples of the lands; and if the answer is in the negative, whether the Order-in-Council 1910 – 1913 made by the British Government to create Nigeria in 1914 was null and void ab initio for lacking legitimacy as it could not form the basis of the Nigerian Constitution thereby rendering the amalgamation invalid.

“Whether by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1963 which took effect on 1st October 1963 and remained in force until the midnight of 30th September 1979 the Defendants were right to seize and confiscate the assets, properties, money, and all treasures belonging to members of the Claimant by promulgating the Abandoned Properties Act of 28th September 1979 while the 1963 Constitution was in force, being more than nine years after the war and after the declaration of “One Nigeria” while regarding members of the Claimant as Nigerian citizens but depriving them of their properties, money and assets; and if the answer is in the negative, whether the Defendants are still justified to withhold the said money, properties and assets belonging to members of the Claimant.

“Whether the Defendants were justified to violate the International Humanitarian Law and the Laws of War known as the Geneva Convention 1949 (to which the Defendants acceded to and ratified on 20th June 1961) by bombing the Biafran civilians, killing the Biafran civilians and using starvation to kill the children, women and the elderly of the civilian population of the indigenous people of Biafra in the war of 1967 – 1970 in order to win the war.

“Whether the right of self-determination provided under Article 20 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act overrides and supersedes the provisions of Sections 1 and 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 pursuant to the Judicial Authority in the case of IGP v ANPP (2007) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1066) 457 at 500, Para B–C.

“Whether it is lawful for the Defendants to marginalise, persecute and discriminate against the Claimant’s region of the South East and South South of Nigeria by refusing to develop their region, refusing to revamp their seaports, refusing to dredge their River Niger and other inland Rivers to the sea, and threatening to shut down or downgrade their International Airport at Enugu.

“Whether it is lawful for the Defendants to acquire a Radio Licence and set up a Radio Station for the Fulani herdsmen and pay them or offer to pay them the sum of N100 billion without doing the same thing for members of the Claimant who are also Nigerian citizens, and if the answer is in the negative or affirmative, whether the Defendants’ acts in acquiring the said Radio Station for the Fulani Herdsmen and paying them or offering to pay them the sum of N100 billion without according the same favour or privilege to members of the Claimant being equal citizens of the same country constitute a violation of Section 42(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and therefore unlawful.

“Whether the Defendants by registering Nigeria as a member of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) in 1986 and licensing an Islamic Sharia Bank in Nigeria under the 1999 Constitution contrary to Section 10 of the Constitution of Nigeria have violated the Constitution and turned Nigeria into an Islamic country; and if the answer is in the affirmative, whether the members of the Claimant have the right to dissociate themselves from the Defendants and refuse to be called the citizens of an Islamic country in the exercise of their right to freedom of worship, freedom of association and self-determination as a people.”

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Also attached in the originating summons is a video record in a flash drive marked as Exhibit BF01, where the president was captured saying that the Claimants should organize themselves and vote to have a State within a State.

The plaintiff, in the substantive suit, is seeking an order of the court to “declare that the direction and/or instruction and/or promise given by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, to members of the Claimant on the Al Jazeera Television on or about the 5th day of March 2016 that they should organize themselves and vote to have a state within a state which they have accepted and complied with by organizing themselves as directed by the Defendants constitutes an irrevocable promise by the Defendants from which they can no longer withdraw.

“To declare that the members of the Claimant have the right to conduct their referendum and vote to have their State of Biafra as a self-governing autonomous region within the Nigerian State just like Scotland governs itself within the Great Britain pursuant to the direction and/or instruction and/or promise given to them by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the Al Jazeera Television which they have accepted and complied with.

“To declare that, notwithstanding the direction and/or instruction and/or promise made by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the members of the Claimant as aforesaid, they do have the legal right to self-determination pursuant to Articles 19 – 25, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (Cap 10 LFN 1990) and are therefore free to exercise their unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination to freely determine their political status and pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.

“To restrain the Defendants by themselves, or their law enforcement agents or proxies, from arresting, harassing, intimidating, molesting, or in any other way interfering with the Claimant and its members as they display their native flags and emblems and trademarks on their products as they do now whilst remaining loyal and obedient to the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria until the final determination of this case.

“To declare that the amalgamation of the members of the claimant and all the indigenous peoples of the lands by the British Government to form a new country in 1914 called Nigeria without the consent of the peoples of the lands is null and void ab initio for lacking legitimacy and therefore the peoples should be returned to their socio-political condition status quo ante prior to the amalgamation; or in the alternative, an Order compelling the Defendants to convoke a sovereign conference of the ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria to decide and negotiate freely the terms of their co-existence without the interference of the Defendants.

“To affirm the Memorandum of Ohanaeze Ndigbo dated 28th June 2012 submitted to the National Assembly for the restructuring of Nigeria into six autonomous self-governing regions, namely: South East, South West, South South, North East, North West and North Central, as a manifestation of the Will of the People in the exercise of their right to self-determination and compelling the Defendants to present an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for a law granting autonomy and self-governing status to the six geopolitical regions in Nigeria; OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, in the role of the Judiciary as the last hope of the common man, an Order directing the Defendants to present an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for a law dissolving Nigeria in peace along the compatible ethnic groups instead of allowing the country to break up in bloodshed.

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“To declare that the acts of the Defendants in seizing and confiscating the assets, properties, money, and all treasures belonging to members of the Claimant under its law known as the Abandoned Properties Act of 28th September 1979, being nine years after the war and after accepting the people as Nigerian citizens, were unlawful, illegal and a gross violation of the people’s fundamental rights to own properties anywhere in the country.

“To declare that the Defendants are liable to pay to members of the Claimant by way of compensation or reparation the present value of all their money, properties and assets seized by the Defendants pursuant to the Abandoned Properties Act of 1979 in violation of the Claimants’ right to own properties in any part of the country since the properties were not seized in wartime but nine years after the war based on the post-war discriminatory policies and laws made by the Defendants to suppress members of the Claimant from generation to generation.

“To declare that the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights supersede and override the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 by the judicial authority in the case of IGP v ANPP (2007) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1066) 457 at 500, Para B – C on the irrebutable presumption of law that it is never and can never be the intention of the Nigerian Legislature to breach international obligations.

“To compel the Defendants to comply with the provisions of Article 20(3) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (Cap 10 LFN 1990) and consequently give all assistance to the Claimant as required by the law and specifically to do the following things: Sponsor an executive bill in the National Assembly for a law granting the claimants the right to conduct their referendum; Set down the time-table for the Claimant’s referendum; and Provide all the necessary logistics for the conduct of the claimant’s referendum in the exercise of their right to self-determination.

“To compel the Defendants to release and unblock the Claimant’s website at www.ipobgovernment.org and refrain from further violating the human rights of the Claimant and its members.

“To declare that it is unlawful for Defendants to persecute, marginalise and discriminate against members of the Claimant by refusing to develop their region, refusing to revamp their seaports, refusing to dredge their River Niger and other inland Rivers to the sea and threatening to shut down or downgrade their International Airport at Enugu despite the Defendants’ promise of the 3Rs (reconstruction, rehabilitation and reintegration) since after the war.

“To compel the Defendants to embark upon immediate reconstruction and redevelopment of the Claimant’s regions of the South East and South South geopolitical zones of Nigeria including the dredging of the River Niger to the Sea and ensure that their seaports and international airports are of international standard indeed.

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