Legal firework is expected to continue at the Federal High Court, Owerri, Imo State on September 22, this year in the human rights suit filed by the Bilie Human Rights Initiative on behalf of the Supreme Council of Elders of the Indigenous People of Biafra, SCE-IPOB, against the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The suit which was filed on their behalf, by their legal counsel, A. C. Emeka of Mekadolf Law Chambers, Owerri, had earlier been scheduled for hearing on June 16, but due to the inability of the court to sit, the case was adjourned to September 22 for hearing.
Before the June 16 hearing date, the presiding judge of the court, Justice S. M. Shuaibu had awarded a N5,000 cost against the defendants for filing their statement of defence few months after the statutory required period.
The statement of defence and counter-affidavit were filed on behalf of the defendants, by their legal counsel, Prof. Yemi Akinseye George (SAN).
In the suit No FHC/OW/CS/192/2013, brought under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the Bilie Human Rights Initiative representing IPOB, the claimants who are indigenes of the South East geo-political zone of Nigeria, parts of South South geo-political and the Middle Belt zones had dragged the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its Attorney-General of the Federation to the court as first and second defendants, seeking to be given the right to self-determination.
According to the originating summons, the claimants are seeking a declaration of the court to enforce their right to self-determination, pursuant to the relevant Articles on African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, adding that they are equally asking the court to order the defendants to redress all wrongs inflicted on them by the defendants in consequence whereof.
The claimants further prayed the court to determine whether the IPOB who are the remnants that were not consumed in the Nigeria-Biafra civil war of 1967 –1970 have the right of self-determination pursuant to Articles 19 –25 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
They also want the court to determine whether the claimants who identified themselves as Biafrans by indigenous identity were committing any offence by doing so contrary to any provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 or contrary to any provision of the Criminal Code and whether it is a crime under any national or international law to mention the name of Biafra or for the remnants of IPOB who were not consumed by the war to maintain their indigenous identity as Biafrans with their native emblems and symbols as they do now, even though they are Nigerians by citizenship and nationality laws.