The proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) has asked the District Court of Columbia, United States of America to deny the motions filed by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, Governor Willie Obiano and 14 others seeking to dismiss the suit against them over extra judicial killings and torture.
Ten members of IPOB including one survivor of the attack at St. Edmond Catholic Church, Onitsha, Anambra state on May 29-30, 2016 had instituted the action in the District Court of Columbia before Judge Dabney Friedrich in which they named the following as defendants in their individual capacity
Tukur Buratai, Lawal Musa Daura, Ibrahim Attahiru, M.I. Ibrahim, Kassim 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 plaintiffs who sued with named John Doe1- 6 and 10, and Jane Doe 7 – 9 in the response filed by their counsel Bruce Fein also asked the court to proceed to judgment.
The counsel stated that “the Torture Victim Protection Act ( TVPA), law suit against the 16 defendants arises from nine extra judicial killings and 10 acts of tortures under color of Nigeria law of the nine representatives of the wrongful death claimants of the deceased. Doe 1-9 and the lone survivor of torture Doe 10.
According to the counsel all the plaintiffs are Igbos, Biafrans and supporters of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB). He told the District court that group is dedicated to Martin Luther King like peaceful protest to restructure Nigeria and end chronic oppression and genocidal persecution of Briafrans by Muslim Hausa Fulani.
IPOB counsel further told the court that despite the fact the Nigeria Constitution guarantee freedom of association, expression as recognised by the universal declaration of human rights and sister human rights conventions, lethal military and police force suppressed these rights.
That plaintiffs’ TVPA claims is derive from the defendants complicity and command responsibility for extra judicial killings or torture in three incidents .
First at a peaceful gathering of IPOB supporter or members in the St. Edmond Catholic Church, Onitsha ,Anambra State May 29-30, 2016 to celebrate Biafra patriot day.
Second, a peaceful gathering of Igbos IPOB supporters at National High School on Port Harcourt road Aba, Abia State, on February 9, 2016.to protest continued imprisonment of IOPB leader,Nnamdi Kanu.
Thirdly, that Mr. Kanu has been missing since mid Sept 2017 after his home was attacked with military force by Nigerian military.
That the claimants entertained reasonable fear of death if they were to seek judicial relief in Nigeria for extra judicial killings or torture.
That in any case, Nigeria judiciary have been compromised and incapable of providing relief against the defendants ,therefore, the motion should be denied.
However, the defendants through counsel Anthony Egbose had asked the court to dismiss the plaintiffs claim (Docket 36 -1 ) while another counsel Mr.Jude Iweanoges who appeared for Gov. Willie Obiano asked the court to dismiss Docket 35.
Both counsel argued that the service on the defendants were defective. Beside,they were ordering order.
The defendants also claimed political immunity and hinged the failure of the plaintiffs to state claims and lack of personal jurisdiction as grounds to dismiss the suit.