EMEKA EMEKESRI, SOLICITOR FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF BIAFRA, REPLIES PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI
ON HIS STATEMENT AGAINST BIAFRA INDEPENDENCE STRUGGLE.
Your Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, for some days now, I did not consider it necessary to respond to a statement credited to you in the Sun Newspaper of 10 May 2016 where you were reported to have said that instead of allowing the Biafrans to go, it would be better for all the Nigerians to be drowned in the sea. I did not want to respond to you because I had thought that the Attorney-General of the Federation and all your lawyers defending Nigeria in the on-going case between Biafra and Nigeria at the Federal High Court Owerri in Suit No FHC/OW/CS/192/2013 would advise you to be careful in making some utterances which I believe, with due respect, to be careless statements from the President of a country. I am making this response because your statement is contemptuous of the proceedings in court and likely to prejudice my clients’ case. Let me reproduce the statements from the Sun Newspaper:
“President Muhammadu Buhari vowed, yesterday, in his home state of Katsina, to use all resources at his disposal to crush any agitation for the division of Nigeria. The president said the country fought a civil war which claimed over two million lives in order to be united. Buhari, who spoke at the palace of Emir of Katsina also urged Nigerians to be patient with his government as, according to him, the current hardship being experienced, may not be unconnected with efforts at laying a solid foundation for sustainable nation building. Buhari was in Katsina to attend the state’s economic and investment forum which he will officially declare open this morning. In a veiled reference to the current separatist agitation for Biafra being promoted by a group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Buhari warned it would be better for the entire country to commit mass suicide than to allow such campaign to succeed. He referred to the promoters of the agitation as “kids” who were not born during the civil war. According to Buhari, “today, Nigeria is a strong and united sovereign entity because some people laid down their lives for the country. At least two million people died during the civil war but, today, some people who were not born during the civil war are agitating for the division of the country. We will not let that happen. “For Nigeria to divide now, it is better for all of us to jump into the sea and get drowned.”
Mr President, with due respect, it appears that you have not informed Nigerians that the country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder from the legal arsenals of the Biafran lawyers battling with the Nigerian lawyers in the Federal High Court Owerri since 2012 on the issue of Self-determination of the Biafran nation. The Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney-General of the Federation are the Defendants in the suit. The Defendants have changed their lawyers several times because the case is too hot for them. This is the case that terrifies the Nigerian Government as they know that it may end up in the International Court of Justice at The Hague where Cameroon defeated Nigeria and took away the Bakassi region.
The doctrine of indivisibility of Nigeria is not sacrosanct as the Bakassi region has been separated from Nigeria by judicial power! Why did the Nigerian Government not argue in the ICJ that the Nigerian Constitution said that no part of Nigeria could be removed from Nigeria? Of course, you ought to know the power of law. By law nations are created and by law nations are restructured or dissolved. It is not a child’s play. Mr President, you may assemble more lawyers to defend Nigeria in this case but I assure you that my clients will surely win the legal battle because it may not end in the Nigerian courts. We are preparing for The Hague.
The Nigerian Government knows that the ongoing suit between Biafra and Nigeria was authorised by the Supreme Council of Elders of Indigenous People of Biafra, some of whose members are older than Mr President Muhammadu Buhari and senior to him in the Army. The Nigerian Government and the hierarchy of the DSS Police know the leaders of Indigenous People of Biafra because at the commencement of the suit in 2012, we duly served all the Nigerian Authorities with the Legal Notices including the documents from the Court showing the Elders of Biafraland who are the leaders of Indigenous People of Biafra.
I am surprised at your statement to the Press that the promoters of the Biafran agitation for self-determination were “kids” who were not born during the war! Mr President, you have insulted the Elders of my clients who signed the Legal Instrument in the Federal High Court authorising Bilie Human Rights Initiative to file the action on behalf of Indigenous People of Biafra against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney-General of the Federation. Our Elders require an apology from you for referring to them as “kids” promoting the Biafran agitation. Just as we respect you as the President of Nigeria, we also expect you to respect our Elders who are the custodians of the Customary Government of Indigenous People of Biafra.
The Biafran Liberation Struggle is not under the control of the Biafra Elders being led by the Supreme Council of Elders of Indigenous People of Biafra who have adopted the legal and diplomatic method of self-determination. ,
Mr President, your statement that instead of allowing Nigeria to divide it would be better for all Nigerians to drown in the sea and commit mass suicide is very serious with very serious legal and social implications. You are directly or indirectly telling the Judge to dismiss the case of my clients so that Biafra cannot be free from Nigeria. I believe that you were not joking when you made that statement. You really meant it. You wouldn’t mind drowning all the Nigerians in the sea instead of allowing the Biafrans to go.
However, I think, with due respect, that you made that statement in ignorance of what the Nigerian law says about the peoples’ inalienable right to self-determination. I do not blame you because you are not a lawyer by training. You are a soldier turned into a politician. I rather blame your lawyers who should have advised you before you made those provocative statements.
Nevertheless, I want to allay your fears about the break-up of Nigeria. We have no intention to destroy Nigeria. We respect Nigeria and the Nigerian Government. Our intention is to set Biafra free from Nigeria by the rule of law and not to destroy Nigeria just as Eritrea was set free from Ethiopia without destroying Ethiopia; just as South Sudan was set free from Sudan without destroying Sudan; just as Bangladesh and Pakistan were set free from India without destroying India. Mr President, it must not be by war. I do not really blame you and other people who think in error that self-determination must always be achieved through war and violence. There are three methods of achieving independence, namely: the military method, the political method and the judicial method. Scotland is using the political process of referendum because the British law has not provided for the right of self-determination as a legal right by an Act of Parliament but the Biafrans are using the judicial process because the Nigerian law has provided for the right of self-determination by an Act of Parliament.
Under the Nigerian law, the right to self-determination was created as a legal right by an Act of the National Assembly unlike in Britain. I do not want to bother you with the issues of law here. Whether by political process or judicial process, the exercise of the right to self-determination must not always be through war. Mr President, the next court hearing is on the 2nd June 2016 at the Federal High Court Owerri and we are expecting you and your lawyers in Court.
Your Excellency, my clients want to go and rebuild their own nation of Biafra so that the owners of Nigeria will enjoy their country very well without further disturbances from the Biafrans. Mr President, please mark my word: “As long as you hold my clients in Nigeria against their will, there will be no peace for Nigeria. I assert firmly that Biafra shall be free either within Nigeria or outside Nigeria and nobody shall be drowned in the sea as you have threatened”. My clients are yearning for freedom and they must be free. It is either freedom within Nigeria or freedom outside Nigeria. Please refer to the 8 issues for determination in Court and the 8 prayers we have made in Court. I assert with authority on this question of self-determination that Justice shall prevail in the end and the heavens shall not fall. Lest I forget: I have heard a rumour that when somebody makes a constructive criticism against your views, or holds an opinion contrary to yours, you would unleash the DSS policemen against the person like attack dogs. Is it true, Mr President? Please, I advise you to be properly guided with wisdom and understanding in your utterances and actions.
Emeka Emekesri, Esq.
Solicitor for Indigenous People of Biafra
Suit No FHC/OW/CS/192/2013
Federal High Court Owerri