There was a display of anger on Tuesday January 22, 2018 at the Federal High Court sitting in Owerri by lawyers and members of Bilie Human Rights Initiative representing Biafrans after Justice Louis Alagwoa announced that he was compelled to transfer a case from Owerri to Abuja. The said case was instituted by Bilie Human Rights Initiative for Biafrans against the Federal government seeking declaration of the court on whether the Indigenous People of Biafra have the right for self determination as stated in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
While Professor Francis Dike SAN representing BHRI described the decision of the court as an abuse of court process, the President of Bilie Human Rights Initiative Engineer Innocent Amadi said it was a ploy to kill their genuine case against the Federal government.
The said Judge came into the court and sat down and he said, “Prof happy new year, I don’t know how to say this now, but I must have to say it. I was directed to transfer the case file to Abuja”.
Professor Francis Dike SAN puts the question back to the Judge and asked, “can my Lord call up the matter officially as the court sits? The judge quickly replied and said, “it will be improper for me to call up a case I have already transferred”. It was at this point that Professor Dike expressed displeasure the manner federal government has conducted itself and said “if Owerri is no longer part of Nigeria where cases can be instituted and finally determined by the court, we want to know”.
In an interview outside the court, Professor Dike stated that he would as soon as possible challenge the decision of the court and subject same to judicial review since the case of transfer was purely administrative.
“Naturally I feel so disappointed. We filed a suit in Owerri and Owerri is part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. How can the registry in Abuja insist that a case be transferred to Abuja which never originated from there. So if he does not want us being the law abiding citizens of this country to vet our anger under the law,then violence is being encouraged. We have nothing against the federal government except a normal quarrel and legal issues to be determined by the court of competent jurisdiction like the Federal High Court, Owerri. So the matter was instituted in their own court because I never thought of any bias against the federal government. So it is an act of cowardice for the federal government to seek that the matter be transferred. We also filed that IPOB should not be proscribed . The process to which it was done is unlawful in itself.
But we will file for a judicial review in this same court. If they also want to transfer the case of judicial review, we will also appeal against it until they are ready to do the right thing. I am offended and not given to this type of sentiment. I have been a lawyer close to 60 years now and what has happened now is bad for this country”, Professor Dike lamented.
According to Engineer Innocent Amadi being the President of Bilie Human Rights Initiative he said, “the federal government had earlier came up with frivolous objections and they were defeated, it also demanded that the case be struck out on the basis that Nnamdi Kanu led IPOB has been proscribed and it didn’t also work. The final move now is to kill the case by demanding that the case be transferred to Abuja”.
Written by Christian Nwokocha for BHRI