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Biafra referendum: Court fixes 30 March for suit of self-fetermination

By Ernest Nzor, Abuja
28 January 2023   |   10:29 pm
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja adjourned the hearing on the suit filed by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) seeking a referendum to determine the fate of Biafra and other self-determination agitations to March 30, 2023.

(FILES) Supporters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) (Photo by STEFAN HEUNIS / AFP)

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, adjourned the hearing on the suit filed by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) seeking a referendum to determine the fate of Biafra and other self-determination agitations to March 30, 2023.

Recall that, CNG had in June 2021 dragged the National Assembly and the Attorney-General of the Federation to Court, asking it to compel the defendants to halt the ongoing constitutional review exercise and in its place, conduct a referendum to ascertain what determines Nigeria and who populates it.

The case was adjourned after the court presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo could not sit as scheduled.

Counsel to CNG, Barrister Sufiyanu Gambo Idris, while briefing journalists, said, “The case is slated to 30th of March 2023, even though they informed us right from the time that the court is not going to seat, but as we are not informed of any day, I decided to come down to ensure that I take the date, but even before I arrived, the date was already slated”.

In his remarks, the Counsel to the Ibom nation people movement, Barrister Adesina Oke, said “We are here, having realized there is a suit which has to do with the issue of self-determination of which of course the people of the movement have always been yearning for and we felt the best things to do is to ensure we join in the suit for determination of that self-determination that we have been asking for.

“The Ibom people, have been there for many years and is one of the ethnic groups that have such a history and it is important they can always see to the effects that the court could determine whether that self-determination is something that could be granted to us or not.

“Why we are joining of course, the application is before the court and the court is here to determine the joining of the Ibom people’s movement in the suite that is presently constituted, but we are hoping that by the time we are been added, we are likely just like any other applications from other ethnic nationality; we are going to have a bite of the cherry for this issue that is pending before the court.

“A lot of ethical nationalities are also asking the same question to have a referendum of their self-determination and to have unhindered access to their resources.

“You can always imagine that a lot of resources are within the confines of Ibom, Akwa Ibom people of over nine million, but few of them are integrated into the Nigeria system, and this is why self-determination is determining, and one must be determined, so people can know how to go about it.

“Just like it has been said, they are several instruments that point to that, both internationally and even within the confines of the national law, so this is what we want to try before the court and see whether we can have the law on our side because we are peaceful people and we don’t want violence in the country, but we have the right to ask for this and we hope that the court will uphold our argument with respect.”

On his part, the Coordinator of Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community, and member of the Ibom People Movement the group seeking to be joined in the suit, Barrister. Clifford Effiong Thomas stated that the Ibom people who are in excess of 16 million persons and found in Akwa Ibom State majorly, Cross River State, Bakasi, Cameroun, Equatorial Guinea and elsewhere, are a set of peace-loving and industrious people.

Thomas lamented the current structure of Nigeria which frustrates the aspirations of ethnic nationalities from realizing their full potential.

He said: “There is no useless nation within Nigeria. True federalism with help nations brings out their best for the prosperity of Nigeria. The Ibom people have what it takes to operate as an independent set of nationalities.

“If Nigeria must exist and continue as one country, it must be negotiated on the basis of mutual respect, where the real people, and not politicians must sit, and discuss the real issues. We need a brand new Constitution a recognises the need for self-determination and a referendum clause. The restructuring will help this country.”

Meanwhile, a member of the Ibom nation people movement, Edemma Udoh, Commended the court process of including all ethnic groups, especially the Ibom nation.

She said: “The right of self-determination is not something that we should bag for because it is something that Nigeria is a signatory to if you look around what is happening in Nigeria. Every election in the country is about ethnicity and religion.”

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