By Leo Sobechi (Lagos), Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna) and Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi (Jos)
A United States (U.S.) District Court for the District of Columbia has granted leave to 10 Biafran plaintiffs to sue Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, and 13 others 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.”