Self-determination: CNG sues NASS, asks court to order Biafra referendum
By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
The ongoing constitutional review process is being beset by a legal hurdle following the controversy surrounding the agitation for Biafra independence, Vanguard has learned.
It was learned that the Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, has filed a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking to stop the National Assembly from taking any further action towards reviewing the Constitution unless the question of Nigeria’s unity, particularly the Biafra agitation was settled through a referendum.
The court document marked FHC/ABJ/CS/538/2021 was dispatched for service on the Offices of the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Attorney-General of the Federation on Thursday, according to a statement by the CNG.
It was learnt that the leadership of the National Assembly was holding talks as to whether the federal legislature was empowered to set in motion a framework for a referendum to allow the Southeastern States of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to decide on their bid for self-determination.
Recall that the CNG had urged the National Assembly to invoke the doctrine of necessity to organise a referendum as the final step towards the separation of the Igbo from the rest of Nigeria on the grounds that the agitation for self-determination by the Indigenous People of Biafra had turned violent in the Southeast region.
In the originating summons filed by S. G Idrees Esq., on behalf of CNG, it was argued that section 4 (36) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states that in the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal constituted by law so as to secure its independence and impartiality.
Therefore, the CNG asked the court to determine whether the Senate President and the Speaker of House of Representatives, have the power to call for a joint session of both Houses of the National Assembly to deliberate on the agitation for self-determination by the Southeastern States of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The plaintiff subsequently sought the following reliefs: “a declaration that by the combined effect of the provisions of Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and Articles 1, 2, and 20(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2004, the National Assembly is empowered to set in motion a framework for a referendum to allow the Southeastern States of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to decide on their bid for self-determination.
“An order directing the Senate President, the Speaker of House of Representatives and the National Assembly to provide a framework that will pave way for the self-determination of the Southeastern States so as to leave the geographical entity called Nigeria before any further step is taken to amend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”