Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday adjourned a suit seeking the actualisation of the sovereign state of Biafra to Feb 25, 2019 for hearing.
The suit marked FHC/OW/CS/192/2013 commenced in the Owerri division of the court before it was transferred to Abuja at the instance of the Federal Government.
The self-determination suit was filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Bilie Human Rights Initiative, representing the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), against the Federal Government of Nigeria and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
Specifically, the plaintiff wants to actualise the sovereign state of Biafra through legal means.
In its counter affidavit to the preliminary objection filed by the Federal Government, the plaintiff argued that Nigeria would lose nothing if it allowed the breakaway of Biafra.
He said: “If Biafra is carved out of the present Nigeria today as a sovereign and independent nation, Nigeria has nothing to lose, as Nigeria will still remain great and giant of Africa with abundant peace, progress, unity, strong economy, political, religious and cultural harmony that shall be without comparison within the African sub-region and beyond.”
Dr. Innocent Amadi, President of Billie Human Rights Initiative, who deposed to the 13-paragraph counter affidavit, averred that, “In order to terminate the present suit by all means, the Federal Government took undue advantage of the rift with Nnamdi Kanu’s faction of IPOB in filing an ex-parte application at the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by the then Acting Chief Judge, Justice Abdul Kafarati, to hurriedly secure an ex-parte order to kill permanently our struggle for self-determination and our genuine and lawful efforts to actualise the sovereign state of Biafra through legal means.”
At Thursday’s sitting, the applicant prayed the court to transfer the case back to the Federal High Court, Owerri, and adjourn sine-die (indefinitely) until the sister suit No: FHC/CS/124/2017, which was filed first by applicants/respondents challenging the proscription order of IPOB as a terrorist organisation, is heard.
While the applicant was represented by Ohaeto Uwazie, who held the brief of Dr. Francis Dike (SAN), the Federal Government was represented at the proceedings by Mrs. B.O. Akinseye-George, who stood in for Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN).
The Federal Government had, in its preliminary objection, asked the court to dismiss the suit for being incompetent, illegal, and incurably bad by virtue of the order made on September 20, 2017, by Justice Abdul Kafarati which proscribed IPOB as a terrorist organisation.
However, Justice Quadri, who said he just took over the case file, requested for time to keep abreast of the facts and processes filed in the case because of “the sensitive nature of the case”.