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Biafra Referendum: Court fixes March 30 for suit on self-determination

Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / 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.

It would be recalled that the CNG, 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, Sufiyanu Gambo Idris, said: “The case is slated for March 30, 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, Adesina Oke, said: “We are here, having realised there is a suit, which has to do with the issue of self-determination. We felt the best thing to do is to ensure we join in the suit for determination of what we have been asking for.

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

“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 at present constituted. But, we are hoping that by the time we are being added, just like any other application 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 for a referendum to seek self-determination and 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 a few of them are integrated into the Nigerian system.

Also speaking, the Coordinator, Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community, Clifford Effiong Thomas, said Nigeria has embedded in her all the resources required to function effectively as a people.

He lamented the current structure of Nigeria, adding that what the nation needed was “true federalism and a central government on the basis of the country’s comparative advantage.”

He said: “As a member of Ibom nation, I want to say very clearly that Ibom nation is not just confined to Akwa Ibom, but we have spread to Rivers and elsewhere. “We are not quarrelling with Nigeria as an entity, but as a nation and ethnic nationality we are saying that the laws, should give us the right to live independently. We have the right to negotiate with our neighbours to say we are interested in living together as a country.”

However, another member of Ibom Nation People’s Movement, Edemma Udoh, said: “The right of self-determination is not something that we should beg 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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