“If Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu and Nnamdi Azikiwe were alive today, they would have towed the line of the new Biafra movement.”
I write in my capacity as the Solicitor for Indigenous People of Biafra with the conduct of the case in Suit No FHC/OW/CS/192/2013 pending in the Federal High Court Owerri between Biafra and Nigeria. In that case, the Claimants are described as INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF BIAFRA suing in a representative capacity by the human rights organization called Bilie Human Rights Initiative. The case was instituted by the authority of the Customary Government headed by the Supreme Council of Elders of Indigenous People of Biafra under the Nigerian Customary Law. Many people including some Biafran activists have raised questions on the legality of a customary government. In fact, some anarchic vociferous Biafran activists have attacked the Customary Government so vehemently that we began to ask whether they were hired by the Defendants. For these reasons, I have decided to address these issues clearly:
2. The facts and evidence of the existence of the Customary Government of Indigenous People of Biafra are fully pleaded in Court and the Defendants have been duly put on notice. The Biafrans have judicial immunity to organize themselves by a home-rule within Nigeria under Customary Law. The Defendants are forbidden by law to interfere with the home-rule of the Claimants. In this case, the Claimants are Indigenous People of Biafra who sued Nigeria in a representative capacity by the human rights organization called “Bilie Human Rights Initiative”. Let me make it clear that the human rights organization is not the same thing as Indigenous People of Biafra. It is an agent sent by the Biafran people to advocate for their rights in Court as the people are not yet a sovereign legal entity. It is an elementary doctrine of law that a non-legal entity can only sue or be sued in a representative capacity. Let the overzealous Biafran activists know that Biafra is not yet a legal entity and therefore can only sue or be sued in a representative capacity. The human rights organization can in future represent a trade association in Court such as the Market Woman Association. It is different from the people it represents in Court and cannot interfere with the affairs of the people.
3. Actually, the Customary Government of Indigenous People of Biafra is not the first in the world. It is recognised in international law as well. It is by this means that the Palestinians govern themselves within Israel as they seek for their independence. It is a natural order that a people seeking for independence must be organized as a people and must speak with one voice. The President of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, has also mentioned the need for the Biafrans to gather themselves together as a people to pursue their common interest.
4. The cases of Palestine and Biafra are similar in a way. The Palestinians applied the power of international politics and were granted the Observer Status of the UN after 25 years of struggling for independence. They therefore enjoy some measure of diplomatic immunity. The Biafrans applied the power of national and international law to institute the case in the Nigerian Federal High Court and therefore enjoy judicial immunity. This judicial immunity continues even if the case finally moves to the International Court in The Hague. In fact, the Biafrans as the Claimants in the on-going case have an obligation to maintain law and order among themselves by an internal government structure that ensures peace in the land as long as the case lasts. This internal government structure is what we call the Customary Government of Indigenous People of Biafra. A Customary Government is called “Ochichi Amaala” in Igbo Language. It is a government by the Council of Elders. This is the Customary Government that speaks for the people. At all levels in Biafraland, there has been the customary governance from time immemorial. This is the Government that authorised the Biafran Struggle for self-determination by the Rule of Law. It is government by the Elders of the land based on Customary Law.
5. The concept of judicial immunity is that where two parties are in Court, no party will molest, disturb, harass or interfere with the other party until the case is over. We have made it clear in Court that we are Biafrans by indigenous identity but Nigerians by citizenship which was forced upon us against our will. Therefore, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General as Defendants cannot interfere with the internal governance of the Claimants. However, if any child of the claimants commits an offence, the Nigerian Government has the power to punish the offender for the said offence and not for being a Biafran by indigenous identity.
6. Let me now refer to the pleadings in Court. Paragraphs 31 and 32 of the Evidence adduced by the Biafrans against the Defendant’s Preliminary Objections stated as follows:
31. That the Claimants are an organized body of people under the control and management of our Customary Government known as the Government of Indigenous People of Biafra with various government departments as shown in the Policy Statements and Orders exhibited in these proceedings as Exhibit A8 headed by the Supreme Council of Elders with physical office addresses as stated in this Further Affidavit and pursuing their right to self-determination by due process of law.
32. That despite the forceful occupation of our territory by the Defendants, we the Indigenous People of Biafra are obedient and loyal to our Customary Government headed by our Council of Elders known as the Supreme Council of Elders of Indigenous People of Biafra which we recognize and submit to as the de facto government of Indigenous People of Biafra under Customary Law.
Submissions in Reply:
21. In reply to Paragraph 21 where the Defendants asserted that Nigeria had been a single and one united country right from the amalgamation of 1914 to date, Claimants aver as follows:
(1) In 1961, some parts of South Eastern Nigeria joined Cameroon by a Plebiscite (Referendum) while some parts of North Western Cameroon joined Nigeria despite the amalgamation of 1914.
(2) In 1967, the remaining Eastern Nigeria declared independence as the Republic of Biafra despite the amalgamation of 1914 and governed the Biafran territory for three years. The Republic of Biafra was recognised by five countries that have seats in the United Nations including Haiti, Zambia, Gabon, Tanzania and Ivory Coast.
(3) The Claimants declared war against the Republic of Biafra and fought with the young Republic for three years and could not defeat Biafra until the World Powers of the Great Britain, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and all Moslem countries helped Nigeria to defeat Biafra and force the Biafrans back into Nigeria. We draw the attention of the Court to the history books listed at Paragraph 6(b), 6(d), 6(e), 6(g), 6(h), and 6(k) of the Claimants’ Affidavit in support of the Originating Summons.
(4) In 2002, the part of Cross River State of Nigeria called Bakassi Peninsula was ceded to Cameroon by the Judgment of the International Court of Justice despite the amalgamation of 1914.