A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday adjourned the suit filed by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) seeking referendum to determine the fate of Biafra and other self-determination agitations.
CNG had in June sued the National Assembly, and the Attorney General of the Federation, asking the court to compel the defendants to halt the ongoing constitutional review exercise and in its place, conduct a referendum to determine what determines Nigeria and who populates it.
Speaking after the adjournment, the spokesperson of the CNG, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, told journalists that the court could not seat and the suit was subsequently adjourned to January 20, 2022.
The suit, filed by the CNG and its leaders namely, Nastura Ashir Shariff, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, Balarabe Rufa’i and Aminu Adam as plaintiffs, joined the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the National Assembly as defendants.
The CNG said instead of the ongoing constitution review exercise, the defendants should immediately provide a framework for the actualisation of the agitators’ demand on self-determination.
“One of the issues for determination in the substantive suit has to do with the legal obligation of the 2nd – 4th Defendants/Respondents to provide a framework that will pave the way for the self-determination of the South-eastern states and any other enclave that wants to go so as to leave the geographical entity called Nigeria before any further step is taken to review the Constitution,” Suleiman said.
Also speaking, the lead counsel to the CNG, Barrister S. G. Idris said, “The court did not sit because the Judge is out on official assignment, hence the matter was adjourned to 20th of January 2022, we have already filed our originating summons, it contains our arguments and our points of view.
“And in the wisdom of the court, we believe if it listens to the provisions of the African Charter, particularly Article 20, which provides the right to self determination, and Nigeria being a signatory to that charter, having ratified provisions of the charter under our laws by the National Assembly, it becomes law, also operative in Nigeria by the member States,” he explained.
Speaking further he said, “We have a Motion on Notice, we decided it does not become ex-parte, because we want all parties to respond to the motion on notice seeking injunction to restrain the National Assembly from taking further steps with respect to the issue of constitution amendments, because the argument is simple;
“Some people are saying they are not interested in the country, you are amending the constitution to even create states in territories that are trying to say ‘we are not interested in the marriage’.
“So, we felt the right thing to do is to ask the National Assembly to stop the constitution amendment in the overriding interest of the country to address this issue. The issue of self-determination is not an issue of opinion, it’s the general view of the people concerned.
“Everyone is a stakeholder, most especially in the areas that are interested in self-determination, having their own country. Each and every adult member has a right to vote. As to where his opinion lies because we keep having counter arguments, some saying ‘we want to go’ some saying ‘we need presidency’, some saying ‘we want to stay we are not part of this’.
“So the best way to get a general view on the matter is to allow people express their right under the law,” he stated.
Meanwhile some lawyers from the South-East region of Nigeria have applied to the Federal High Court in Abuja to be joined as defendants in the suit by the CNG, praying for the exit of the region from Nigeria.
The application they said was based on the agitations of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its leader, Nnamdi Kanul
The legal practitioners led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Chuks Muoma, include Ukpai Ukairo, Ebere Uzoatu and Hon Obi Emuka. They sought an order of the court to allow them join in the suit as representatives of the people of the South-East region.
In an application for joinder filed by Victor Onweremadu on Monday in Abuja, the applicants claimed that the case of the northern group seeking the exit of South-East from Nigeria had the capability to shape the life of generations of the Igbo people.