Friday Olokor, Abuja
***Case adjourned till March 14
The demand for a referendum on secession of Biafra from Nigeria assumed a front burner on Thursday with the Yoruba and Efik ethnic nationalities filing an application to be part of the suit filed by the Coalition of Northern Groups.
The CNG had in June 2021, dragged the National Assembly, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to Court asking them to conduct a referendum to determine the fate of Biafra agitators.
The case was first adjourned till January 20, 2022, after Justice Inyang Ekwo could not sit due to an official assignment.
But the case could not be heard again on Thursday because the Judge was said to be indisposed.
The counsel for CNG, Safiyanu Idris, told Journalists that the case had been adjourned again, to March 14, 2022, because Justice Ekwo was absent.
“Since the last adjournment, the matter was adjourned to today (January 20) for the continuation of motion as they are people that have filed an application to join the suit.
“We came here for the applications but it happened that the Judge is also not sitting today.
“But in between the time, there is a particular group. The Ijaw group have filed an application for joinder in the matter. Now the matter is adjourned to the 14 of March 2022.
The CNG had gone to Court to seek a referendum to determine the fate of Biafra and other separatist organisations in Nigeria.
The Spokesperson of CNG, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, has explained why the coalition filed the suit.
He said, “What we are doing is to save the country, ourselves and the future of the country because these people are becoming violent already. Most of the people engaged in this activity are below 50.
“So, if we allow our leaders to leave us with these people in this situation, there may be another bloodshed or civil war. That is what we want to avoid, which is why we came to the court to interpret the situation.
“One of the issues for determination in the substantive suit has to do with the legal obligation of the 2nd – 4th defendants/respondents to provide a framework that will pave the way for the self-determination of the South-Eastern states and any other enclave that wants to go so as to leave the geographical entity called Nigeria before any further step is taken to review the constitution.”
Speaking on his decision to join the suit, counsel to the Yoruba nation, Timilehin Odunwo, said, “We now deem it fit to join this suit on the ground that not only the Igbo that is interested in leaving this contraption called Nigeria, the Yoruba nation is also interested.
“Therefore, any other call for a referendum should cut across the board of all tribes. Let every tribe have the right to determine whether to live in the country or to move out.
“As you know, self-determination is a very sacrosanct right of every citizen and tribe as it is recognized by the international community.
“Therefore, it is incumbent on the National Assembly, if our application is granted that let everybody decide whether to stay or leave.
“You cannot force an unwilling tribe on a willing nation. It will not work.”
Also, Lead Counsel to Old Calabar Province which is made up of Akwa Ibom and Cross River states, Sunday Uko Afiko said, “We do not want to sit at home while they barb our hair in our absence. So, we came all the way from Uyo to be part of this matter.
“But it is quite unfortunate that the Court is not sitting. We hope that the next adjourn date which is March 14 that the court would sit, we will move our motion and be part of this case which has to decide the fate of everybody. We are not opposing the application.”
“We are saying that it should not just be the South Eastern states that should leave; everybody should be given the opportunity to decide whether they want to be part of Nigeria or not.
“We want to also be given the opportunity to decide our fate. Let there be a national referendum for everybody to vote,” he said.