Wives of some deceased members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have dragged the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, before the United State District Court for the Southern District of Texas over the alleged gruesome killing of their bread winners.
According to reports by the SaharaReporters the complainants are seeking damages under “the Torture Victim Protection Act against Defendant Willie Obiano for the extrajudicial killings under colour of Nigerian law by Nigerian military forces under Defendant’s command and control of their husbands, identified as John Does 1-5.”
The case was filed through their legal representative, Bruce Fein, who is also the US-based lawyer of detained IPOB Leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
The lawyer argues that the US court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter because the plaintiffs brought the matter under US law, the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, and that the defendant, Obiano, is now a resident of Texas.
According ta o court document quoted by SaharaReporters, during his tenure as Governor of Anambra State, Obiano possessed command responsibility and effective control over the Nigerian soldiers complicit in the extrajudicial killing of John Does and acting in concert with former Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari or his agents.
The court document reads: “On October 23, 2020, John Doe No 1 was attending a peaceful IPOB rally in Nnewi, Anambra State under the government of Defendant Obiano to support the restoration of Biafra sovereignty.
“He was shot dead by Nigerian military forces under the command and control of Defendant Obiano under color of Nigerian law in a prominent market square where the Biafran demonstrators had peacefully gathered.
“About seven truckloads of heavily armed Nigerian military men stormed the market square and began indiscriminately shooting at IPOB demonstrators, killing at least 13 including John Doe No 1.
“The Government of Nigeria has refused to investigate the extrajudicial killing of John Doe and seeking judicial relief in a civil suit would be futile because Nigeria’s judiciary is an arm of the Executive Branch.”
The plaintiffs in their statement further said: “Defendant Willie Obiano served as Governor of Anambra State in Nigeria from March 17, 2014, to March 17, 2022. In November 2021, through his sporting a population approximating 70 million. Biafrans are overwhelmingly Christian. They are gifted entrepreneurs and embrace democracy including equality for women and devotion to education. The predominance of Nigeria’s rich oil resources is in Biafra.
“15. Nnamdi Kanu is the consensus leader of IPOB. In June 2021, while visiting Nairobi, Kenya, Mr. Kanu was kidnapped, tortured, and subject to extraordinary rendition by Nigerian authorities to Abuja on concocted charges of treason and terrorism.
“Mr. Kanu has been illegally imprisoned without trial in solitary confinement and denied access to needed medical care. On July 20, 2022, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an authoritative opinion finding Mr. Kanu’s detention by Nigerian authorities violated sixteen (16) human rights covenants and ordered his immediate and unconditional release.
“The Government of Nigeria is in contempt of the Working Group’s order.
- In September 2017, the Government of Nigeria attempted the assassination of Nnamdi Kanu in his home. The Abia State High Court in Nigeria has awarded Mr. Kanu a large sum of money in damages for the assassination attempt.
“17. Nigeria has made IPOB membership or professed membership a terrorist crime. IPOB was decreased eas d a terrorist organization by President Buhari in September 2017 with no due process. Despite furious lobbying by the Government of Nigeria, no other country in the world has found IPOB a terrorist organization. “18. Professor exhibits IPOB membership in Nigeria is like Jews forced to wear the yellow Star of David on their clothing in Nazi Germany: they are immediately placed in the crosshairs of the Fulani terrorist government of Nigeria.”
The plaintiffs in the statement further requested the following relief against Defendant Obiano: “(a) Compensatory damages for Counts I-V in amounts to be determined at trial; (b) Punitive damages for Counts I-V in amounts to be determined at trial; (c) Attorney’s fees.
By PAMELA EBOH