Biafra protest: Buratai, 13 others charged to US district court

– Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai has been sued to a US district court

– Buratai was sued alongside 13 others, for complicity in the torture and extra judicial killing of pro-Biafrans

– The torture and killings were allegedly carried out in 2016, during a pro-Biafra protest

Ten Biafrans have charged Lt General Tukur Buratai to a United States (U.S.) District Court for the District of Columbia.

The court granted leave to the 10 Biafran plaintiffs to sue Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff and 13 others.

According to The Guardian, they were charged for complicity in the 2016 torture and extra-judicial killings under colour of Nigeria law to retaliate for peaceful Biafran protests against ethnic or religious oppression.

Brought under the Torture Victims Protection Act and Alien Tort Claims Act Complaint, the plaintiffs are seeking millions of dollars as damages to compensate for their grievous losses and suffering.

The suit, John Doe, et al vs. Tukur Yusuf Buratai et al, with Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-01033, has been assigned to United States District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle, who was appointed by President William Jefferson Clinton.

The court further ruled that the “plaintiffs alleged that identifying plaintiffs or decedents would expose them, their families and relatives to an intolerable risk of death or serious bodily injury at the hands of defendants or the Government of Nigeria.”

Counsel to the plaintiffs, Attorney Bruce Fein of Fein & DelValle PLLC, and W. Bruce DelValle, said, among others: “This landmark lawsuit is about justice and the rule of law coming to rescue Igbo, Biafrans and their political supporters who are persecuted, because of their Christian religion, ethnicity and political viewpoints since Nigeria’s independence from its colonial master Great Britain in October 1960.”

In a similar vein, the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), has said its drive for the restoration of Biafra cannot be deterred by the threat of Lt Gen Buratai. MASSOB’s statement comes on the heels of a threat by the COAS in which the army chief said that Biafra will not be achieved in his life time.

Buratai had recently warned that not during his life time will Nigeria disintegrate.

The COAS had insisted that the agitation for the state of Biafra would not be successful in the present era and not even in the four millennia to come.

Reacting to Buratai’s comment, the Uchenna Madu led group maintained that such statement credited to the Army chief cannot stop its seccession drive. In a statement signed by its National Secretary, Comrade Ibem Ugwuoke Ibem, MASSOB likened Buratai’s comments to what the leaders of India said before the country broke up leading to the creation of Pakistan.

The separatist group urged “Hausa – Fulani apologists like Buratai” to refrain from speaking against the emergence of Biafra. Similarly, Buratai, has denied an allegation that he accused humanitarian agencies of wastage of donor funds.

The Nation recently reported that Buratai had alleged that some of the 75 humanitarian agencies in the north east were involved in wastage of donor funds. The army chief has said the information is incorrect and is only a misrepresentation of facts.

In a statement entitled, “The complexity of internal security operations in Nigeria”, the Army said: “Between the 27 – 30 May 2017, there seems to be a dramatic increase in the number of phone calls the 82 Division Army Public Relations Department received from all manners of journalists – conventional reporters, freelancers, the online and social media activists.”

“Though dogged and inquisitive, yet, the traditional reporters appeared, as usual, more refined and professional than the bloggers and other social media elements who mostly – “The Cult of the Amateurs” are regularly sounding vociferous and uncouth in their inquiries.

“It was all about the MASSOB/IPOB’s Sit – At – Home Order and how they (MASSOB/IPOB members) planned to enforce the order in the South East (SE) using propaganda, intimidation, harassment and brute force as tactics, and the constitutional duty of security agencies to ensure peace, security and the protection of human rights.

“It was about the probable/impending confrontation between MASSOB/IPOB members and the security agencies. The assumption was much, and the apprehension was palpable in the SE if not the entire nation.

“Fundamentally, some journalists and indeed the public wish to know, – how, – what miracle the security agencies/Nigerian Army (NA) used to manage the security threats, that was obvious – on the 27 – 30 May 2017? “Similarly, in view of the plans and intrigues to lure or provoke the NA into confrontation with MASSOB/IPOB, and the organized propaganda campaigns to discredit the NA (should there be a clash), journalists were curious to know how the army was able to extricate itself from the “MASSOB/IPOB’s trap”.

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