A group of Northern elders have asked the Abuja division of the Federal High Court to compel the National Assembly to hasten the exit of the South East region from the Federal Republic of Nigeria before concluding the ongoing constitutional amendment.
The plaintiffs led by Nastura Ashir Shariff, Balarabe Rufa’I, Abdul-Aziz Sulaiman and Aminu Adam, averred in a supporting affidavit that their action was informed by the need to stem the tide of violence and destruction being allegedly occasioned by the agitation for secession championed by the Nnamdi Kanu-led POB.
They claimed that they do not want a repeat of the 1967 to 1970 civil war in Nigeria that cost the nation many innocent lives and properties worth billions of naira.
Listed as defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the National Assembly.
But in a swift reaction, lawyers from Igbo speaking region of Nigeria have applied to the court to join them as defendants in a suit.
The legal practitioners led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Chief Chuks Muoma, Ukpai Ukairo, Ebere Uzoatu and Hon Obi Emuka are asking for order of the court to allow them join in the suit as representatives of the people of the southeastern region..
In their application for joinder filed by Victor Onweremadu and obtained by our correspondent on Monday in Abuja, the applicants claimed that the case of the Northern elders seeking the exit of South East from Nigeria has the capability to shape the life of the generation of Igbo people.
The motion on notice for the joinder request was brought pursuant to order 9 rule 5 and order 26 rule 2 of the federal high court civil procedure rule 2019.
The Igbo lawyers claimed that they have interest to protect in the suit, hence, their request to be made a set of defendants in the case.
In their 12-paragraph affidavit in support of their application, the lawyers noted that the Northern elders in their suit did not think it necessary to join the people of South East or their representatives to enable the court hear from them.
The affidavit deposed to by one Ekenna Felix Jonathan read in part: ‘That this suit is so crucial and a sensitive matter which concerns the Indigenous Igbo speaking tribe in Nigeria and has the capability to shape the life of the future generation of the people of the South East of Nigeria and other Indigenous Igbo speaking tribe in Nigeria.
‘That the Igbo Lawyers Association represented by the applicants are an Indigenous association of lawyers from the South East of Nigeria and other Indigenous Igbo speaking tribe in Nigeria.
‘That the Igbo Lawyers Association and its objective is to represent the interest of the Igbo people which said people are Indigenous in the South East of Nigeria. Thus, the association is interested and is a necessary party to be joined.
‘That It will serve the interest of justice if the Honourable court grants the application and join the applicants as defendants in the suit and that the plaintiffs will not be prejudiced if the application is granted.’
In the main suit, the Northern elders prayed the court for the following reliefs:
‘A declaration that, by the combined effect of the provisions of Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and Articles 1, 2, and 20(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2004, the 4th defendant (the National Assembly) is empowered to set in motion a framework for a referendum to allow the southeastern region of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to decide on their bid for self-determination.
‘An order directing the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants to provide a framework that will pave way for the self-determination of the southeastern states so as to leave the geographical entity called Nigeria before any further step is taken to further amend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can be further amended at any time after the question of self-determination must have been resolved by Nigerians.’
Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo has fixed November 1 for hearing of the suit.