Biafra Case in America: US Rejects Nigeria’s Defence of Immunity

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The counter Motion was necessitated by a motion filed by defence lawyers to dismiss the suit based on grounds that included the act of state doctrine, lack of jurisdiction and sovereign immunity.

Dr Bruce Fein and associates, lawyers to the Biafran Plaintiffs argued in-opposite that such defenses are not allowed under the Statutes upon which the suit was brought.

Plaintiffs’ counsel also argued that defence Motions are questionable because the defense lawyers are, before the court, fighting amongst themselves as to who should be recognized to represent the defendants.

The case is pending before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against sixteen Nigerian officials for their direct or indirect complicity in the extrajudicial killings of IPOB members/Biafrans who had launched peaceful protests in the wake of arrest and detention of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

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The officials are: Tukur Yusuf Buratai; Lawal Musa Daura; Ibrahim Attahiru; M.I. Ibrahim; Kasim Umar Sidi; Issah Maigari Abdullahi; Solomon Arase; Ibrahim Kpotun Idris; Okezie Ikpeazu; Willie Obiano; Habila Hosea; Peter Nwagbara; James Oshim Nwafor; Hosea Karma; Bassey Abang; and Johnson Babatunde Kokomo.

In the counter motion, counsel to Plaintiffs argued, amongst others, that jurisdiction has vested through service of the summons and complaint by certified international courier on all defendants.

The Suit is grounded on two muscular United States’ statutes – the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA or ATS – the Alien Tort Statute); and the Torture Victims Protection Act (TVPA). Both laws have extraterritorial reach, meaning that they allow US federal courts to assert long-arm jurisdiction that extends beyond the borders of United States……..

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