Former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, has dragged the Federal Government to court over neglect, injustice and discrimination meted out on the South-east zone of the country, which have led to underdevelopment of the region.
In the fundamental human rights suit before a Federal High Court filed for himself and on behalf of the South-east, the constitutional lawyer demanded that the Federal Government should pay N1trillion damages for its alleged acts of discrimination and under development of the region.
Agbakoba also requested in the suit established pursuant to section 42 of the 1999 constitution, that the court issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Government and its agents, servants or privies, or otherwise howsoever from further acts of discrimination against the Ndigbo or any member of the group/class represented in the civil action.
According to the lawyer, the whopping sum of N1trillion damages from the Federal Government will be shared among the five states of the South-east geo-political zone.
The suit further asked the court to declare that the physical composition of the states in Nigeria, in this distribution: North-West, Seven States; North-Central, Six States; North-East, Six States; South-West, Six States; South-South, Six States; and South-East, Five States; creates a structural imbalance against the applicant and the group/class he represents to their political and economic disadvantage in “federal legislative representation, ministerial/political and judicial appointments, and revenue allocation contrary to Section 14(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which requires reflection of federal character in conduct of public affairs, and accordingly a violation of Section 42 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which prohibits discrimination against the applicant and the group/class represented based on ethnic grouping and place of origin.”
The applicant stated in an originating summons supported by an affidavit of 99 paragraphs and a statement of claim, that the suit is rooted on the ground of alleged total neglect of the applicant’s geo-political zone by the Federal Government in terms of infrastructure and general federal presence making the region feel not part of the Federal Government (1st Respondent).
Aside the problem of under development, the applicants are further demanding the creation of two more states in the South-East geo political zone to balance with the seven states in the North-West, so as to bring to an end the discriminatory practices against the South-East geo political Zone in terms of legislative representation, political and judicial appointments and net federal allocation accruing to the geo-political zone.
The court was also asked to issue an order directing the Federal Government to forthwith, “prepare and send to the National Assembly for enactment, a bill to establish the South-East Development Commission (SEDC) and for ancillary matters, which body shall be charged with the execution of the said master plan and the general development of the South-East geo-political zone.”
Among other grounds upon which the action was filed, is the alleged desertion of the Niger Bridge to collapse and failure to build the ‘Second Niger Bridge’ making the applicants feel isolated from other parts of 1st Respondent and causing them apprehension about disaster on crossing the existing bridge.
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