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Biafra: IPOB drags Buratai, Governor Ikpeazu before US court
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has dragged 16 Nigerian officials to a United States District Court for the District of Columbia, for their complicity in the alleged extrajudicial killings of its members.
The IPOB members were allegedly killed during protests in the wake of arrest and detention of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
The officials dragged to court were: Tukur Yusuf Buratai; Lawal Musa Daura; Ibrahim Attahiru; M.I. Ibrahim; Kasim Umar Sidi; Issah Maigari Abdullahi; Solomon Arase; Ibrahim Kpotun Idris; Okezie Ikpeazu; Willie Obiano; Habila Hosea; Peter Nwagbara; James Oshim Nwafor; Hosea Karma; Bassey Abang; and Johnson Babatunde Kokomo.
The suit is grounded on two muscular United States’ statutes; the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA or ATS – the Alien Tort Statute); and the Torture Victims Protection Act (TVPA).
Both laws have extra-territorial reach, meaning that they allow US federal courts to assert long-arm jurisdiction that extends beyond the borders of America.
In a statement, IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful said: “Beyond the latest processes, and at the ensuing trial, Buratai, Ikpeazu, Obiano and others will be required to personally appear before the US court to testify under oath and probing cross-examination that will dwell on the details of the IPOB killings and the complicity of other unnamed Nigerian officials”.
“In a counter Motion filed on February 6, 2018, the US-based lawyers for the Biafran plaintiffs (IPOB) who brought suit against some Nigerian officials have strongly urged a United States federal court to proceed to trial on the merits, stressing the damning fact the the US State Department has rejected a request from the Buhari-led Nigerian government for the State Department to intervene and stop the suit based on the sovereign immunity defense”.
“At Page 4 of the 35-page Motion obtained by IPOB, our lawyers stated that “Despite an overture by the Government of Nigeria, the United States Department of State has refrained from suggesting any Defendant is immune from Plaintiffs’ TVPA claims under federal common law or otherwise. Neither has the State Department suggested that any Defendant is a head of state in Nigeria”.
“The counter Motion was necessitated by a motion filed by defence lawyers to dismiss the suit based on grounds that included the act of state doctrine, lack of jurisdiction and sovereign immunity. Dr Bruce Fein and associates, lawyers to IPOB argued in-opposite that such defenses are not allowed under the Statutes upon which the suit was brought”.
“IPOB’s counsel also argued that defence Motions are questionable because the defense lawyers are, before the court, fighting amongst themselves as to who should be recognized to represent the defendants. Abia state governor Okezie Ikpeazu and Willie Obiano of Anambra State hired two law firms each and both sets of lawyers were fighting as to who will represent them in court”
“We are not relenting in our pursuit of those responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Biafrans,” Powerful stated.
Police Arrest Biafra Agitators In Jewish Synagogue
Police have arrested and subsequently paraded some Biafra activists in Aba, Abia State.
It was gathered that about seven Biafra activists were arrested in a Jewish synagogue in Aba during a prayer meeting.
A police source said the men were holding “illegal meeting,” an allegation which the men refuted, saying they were only praying in the synagogue before they were arrested.
Commissioner of Police in the State, Mr. Anthony Ogbizi, had while parading the suspects on Monday in Umuahia, said they were arrested with IPOB and Biafra insignia, arguing that IPOB remains an outlawed terrorist organization.
He said IPOB members had devised a new strategy to further their agitation for Biafra by joining the same religious group of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, and using their synagogue as a clandestine meeting place.
Asked why police also paraded some members of Biafra Independent Movement since the organization is not proscribed, Ogbizi said if they did something contrary to the law, they would also be arrested.
He said the police would not allow any part of Abia to be used as a “breeding ground for terrorists.”
But irked by the development, Ohanaeze Youth Council has called for the immediate release of the Biafra agitators, insisting they have committed no offense to be paraded as criminals.
National President of OYC, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said the police had no moral justification to arrest peaceful agitators seeking self-determination, whereas armed herdsmen have continued in their killing spree unchecked.
Isiguzoro urged the security agencies to go after “murderous herdsmen” who are “known terrorists committing genocide across Nigeria,” instead of dissipating energy on nonviolent agitators.
He called on the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to order the immediate release of the arrested Biafra activists so as not to create “unnecessary tension” in South East again.