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Astute lawyer and foremost civil rights activist, Olisa Agbakoba, (SAN) has filed a suit demanding a whopping N1trillion from the Federal Government as damages for the neglect of the South East part of Nigeria.

This is part of a long list of demands the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), lawyer, who hails from Onitsha is making against the government in a Fundamental Rights Class Action against the Federal Republic of Nigeria for himself and on behalf of the South East Zone on grounds of discrimination pursuant to Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution.

It came via an originating summons supported by an affidavit of 99 paragraphs and a statement, demanding amongst other things:

An order directing the Federal Government, which is the first respondent 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 Geopolitical Zone.

An order directing the 1st Respondent to forthwith put all its machinery, including but not limited to legal and political apparatus, in motion, with a view to urgently creating TWO ADDITIONAL STATES in the South-East Geopolitical Zone to balance with the Seven States in the North-West, and thereby bring to an end the discriminatory practices against the South-East Geopolitical Zone in terms of legislative representation, political and judicial appointments and net federal allocation accruing to the Geopolitical Zone.

An order directing the 1st Respondent to take immediate steps to check the excessively aggressive and nefarious, yet ineffective policing of the South-East Geopolitical Zone and putting an end to the extortion going on at the ubiquitous police check-points on the highways in the South-East Geopolitical Zone.

A perpetual injunction restraining the 1st Respondent, whether by itself, its agents, servants or privies, or otherwise howsoever from further acts of discrimination against the Applicant or any member of the Group/Class represented.
14. GENERAL DAMAGES in the sum ofN1,000,000,000,000 (One Trillion Naira) against the 1st Respondent to be shared among the Five States of the South-East Geopolitical Zone.

The key arguments in support of the application are contained in the written brief to the summons. Section 42 of the constitution provide thus;
(1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or
(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions.
(2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.
Mr. Agbakoba’s main point is that everyone is entitled to equal treatment.
The application was filed at the Federal High Court Enugu and is pending before Mr. Justice A.R. Mohammed.
The grounds of Mr. Agbakoba’s application are summarized as follows;
(a) Total neglect of the Applicant’s Geopolitical Zone by the 1st Respondent in terms of infrastructure and general federal presence making the Applicant feel not part of the 1st Respondent.

(b) Abandonment of the Niger Bridge to collapse and failure to build the ‘Second Niger Bridge’ making the Applicant feel isolated from other parts of 1stRespondent and causing him apprehension about disaster on crossing the existing bridge.

(c) Abandonment of Federal Roads, which are death traps and robbery baits and occasioning and constraining on the Applicant grueling road journeys within the Geopolitical Zone. Failure to develop strategic new roads especially the Anam-Nzam Federal Road linking the South-East with the North-Central at Idah in Kogi State to give the Applicant easy access to the northern part of Nigeria.

(d) Failure to exploit the Oil/Gas Reserves in the Anambra Basin and stalling the Applicant’s legitimate expectation from employment and derivation funds for development of the Applicant’s South-East Zone.

(e) Abandonment of the Enugu Colliery and depriving the Applicant of his legitimate expectation from employment and derivation funds for the development of the Applicant’s South-East Zone.

(f) Failure to develop trade-friendly ports and customs policies and establish ‘ease-of-business’ platforms to assist the Applicant’s trading brothers and sisters to do better and operate on a higher and modern scale in trading, which makes the Applicant to spend money to support relatives.

(g) Failure to have an operational international cargo airport at Owerri to aid trading, which causes the Applicant to spend huge sums of money to support trading relatives to haul airborne goods by road from Lagos, , with the attendant risks.

(h) Failure to dredge the Lower Niger and establish a Port at Onitsha to aid trading which causes the Applicant to spend huge sums of money to support trading relatives to haul seaborne goods by road from Port Harcourt or Lagos, with the attendant risks.

  1. i) Disparity in States structure which puts the Applicant’s South-East Zone behind every other Geopolitical Zone in political and judicial appointments and representation at the National Assembly, as well as in revenue allocation.

(j) Foisting low revenue allocation status on the Applicant’s South-East Zone as a result of failure to exploit Oil/Gas and Coal and as a result of the said structural imbalance.

(k) Over-policing and police menacing of the South-East with alarming number of police ‘check-points’ at which massive extortion of billions of naira annually go on, even while violent crimes continue as if there were no police operatives.

(L) Abandoning the South-East to be swallowed up by erosion; failing to respond to calls to check widening gullies in the South-East, especially in Agulu, Nanka and Obosi all in Anambra State, which have claimed expansive farmlands and homelands and leveled homes, displacing people.

The reliefs sought are:
1. A DECLARATION that the Structural Composition of the States in the 1stRespondent 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.
2. A DECLARATION that in view of the provisions of Section 162(2) Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria 1999, which prescribes not less than 13% of federal allocation accruing directly from natural resources to be paid to the area from where such is derived, the neglect by the 1stRespondent of the huge Coal reserves under the rocky hills of Enugu and the environs in relation to the Applicant and the Group/Class he represents, of its exclusive responsibility by Item 39 in the Exclusive Legislative List, Part I Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, to extract the said coal deposits in commercial quantity in accordance with Section 16(2)(b)of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, while extracting solid minerals in other Geopolitical Zones, is discriminatory and a violation of Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.

  1. A DECLARATION that in view of the provisions of Section 162(2) Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria 1999, which prescribes not less than 13% of federal allocation accruing directly from natural resources to be paid to the area from where same is derived, the neglect by the 1stRespondent of the huge Oil/Gas reserves in the Anambra Basin in relation to the Applicant and the Group/Class he represents, of its exclusive responsibility under Item 39 in the Exclusive Legislative List, Part I Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, to extract the same Oil/Gas for commercial purpose in accordance with Section 16(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, while extracting and exploring same in other Geopolitical Zones, is discriminatory and a violation of Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
  2. A DECLARATION that the neglect by the 1st Respondent of the Federal Roads in the South-East Geopolitical Zone, the neglect of the Niger Bridge which is nearing collapse and failure to put in place a Second Niger Bridge to connect the South-East with other parts of the 1st Respondent, in accordance with Section 15(3)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, when the 1stRespondent does so in other Geopolitical Zones, is contrary to Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
    5. A DECLARATION that the over-policing of the South-East highways with numerous check-points by operatives of the 1stRespondent’s Nigeria Police Force (NPF) at every stretch of road wherein sums in excess of N9 Billion annually are extorted from the South-East people, while kidnapping and other crimes still go on unchecked in violation of Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999; when such extortion and high level of crime are not obtainable in any other Geopolitical Zone, is discriminatory and a violation of the provisions of Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
  3. A DECLARATION that the 1st Respondent’s failure to develop friendly ports and customs policies to assist traders from the South-East Geopolitical Zone to do better in trading and on higher scale; failure to have an operational international cargo airport at Owerri to aid trading and failure to dredge the Lower Niger and establish a Port at Onitsha to aid trading, in accordance with its constitutional obligations under Section 15(4), 16(1)(a) and (2)(a) and 17(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, when it responds to the people of other Geopolitical Zones in respect of their areas of strength in the economic map of the 1st Respondent, are discriminatory acts which violate Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
  4. A DECLARATION that the poor revenue allocation rate foisted on the South-East Geopolitical Zone by the 1st Respondent as a result of failure to exploit Oil/Gas and Coal in the Zone and as a result of the structural imbalance of the States in the South-East vis-à-vis other Geopolitical Zones where the 1stRespondent is mandated under Section 16(2)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to promote “a planned and balanced economic development”, is discriminatory and contrary to the fundamental right of the Applicant guaranteed by Section 42(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
    8. A DECLARATION that the worsening menace of Erosion in the South-East Zone generally and in particular in Agulu, Nanka and Obosi in Anambra State, under the watch and neglect of the 1st Respondent, who responds to similar or less-threatening ecological problems in other Zones with dispatch and commitment, is discriminatory and a violation of the fundamental right of the Applicant and the Group/Class represented guaranteed under Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
  5. AN ORDER directing the 1st Respondent to forthwith prepare and release for immediate execution a comprehensive South-East Development Master Plan (SEDM) forurgent turn-around of the infrastructure in the South-East Geopolitical Zone, and the phased execution of such Master plan to be pursued with dispatch and vigour; which Master Plan must include immediate relief in the following identified areas of neglect:

(a) Complete overhauling of all Federal Highways in the Zone and designing and construction of new ones, including the Anam-Nzam Federal Roadlinking the South-East with the North-Central at Idah in Kogi State

(b) Exploration of Oil/Gas Reserves in the Anambra Basin

(c) Reinvigoration of modernized mining activities in Enugu

(d) Re-engineering of Niger Bridge at Onitsha and construction of a Second Niger Bridge at Onitsha

(e) Dredging of the Lower Niger and construction of a Lighter Berth at Onitsha, and

(f) Developing a modern international cargo airport in the Eastern Heartland at Owerri

  1. AN ORDER directing the 1st Respondent 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 Geopolitical Zone.
  2. AN ORDER directing the 1st Respondent to forthwith put all its machinery, including but not limited to legal and political apparatus, in motion, with a view to urgently creating TWO ADDITIONAL STATES in the South-East Geopolitical Zone to balance with the Seven States in the North-West, and thereby bring to an end the discriminatory practices against the South-East Geopolitical Zone in terms of legislative representation, political and judicial appointments and net federal allocation accruing to the Geopolitical Zone.
  3. AN ORDER directing the 1st Respondent to take immediate steps to check the excessively aggressive and nefarious, yet ineffective policing of the South-East Geopolitical Zone and putting an end to the extortion going on at the ubiquitous police check-points on the highways in the South-East Geopolitical Zone.
  4. PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restrainingthe 1st Respondent, whether by itself, its agents, servants or privies, or otherwise howsoever from further acts of discrimination against the Applicant or any member of the Group/Class represented.
    14. GENERAL DAMAGES in the sum ofN1,000,000,000,000 (One Trillion Naira) against the 1st Respondent to be shared among the Five States of the South-East Geopolitical Zone.

The key arguments in support of the application are contained in the written brief to the summons. Section 42 of the constitution provide thus;
(1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or
(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions.
(2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.
Mr. Agbakoba’s main point is that everyone is entitled to equal treatment.
The application was filed at the Federal High Court Enugu and is pending before Mr. Justice A.R. Mohammed. You can receive further information from the Counsel to Mr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN

Mr. Olisa Agbakoba has filed a Fundamental Rights Class Action against the Federal Republic of Nigeria for himself and on behalf of the South East Zone on grounds of discrimination pursuant to Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution. This action was by Originating Summons supported by an affidavit of 99 paragraphs and a statement.
The grounds of Mr. Agbakoba’s application are summarized as follows;
(a) Total neglect of the Applicant’s Geopolitical Zone by the 1st Respondent in terms of infrastructure and general federal presence making the Applicant feel not part of the 1st Respondent.

(b) Abandonment of the Niger Bridge to collapse and failure to build the ‘Second Niger Bridge’ making the Applicant feel isolated from other parts of 1stRespondent and causing him apprehension about disaster on crossing the existing bridge.

(c) Abandonment of Federal Roads, which are death traps and robbery baits and occasioning and constraining on the Applicant grueling road journeys within the Geopolitical Zone. Failure to develop strategic new roads especially the Anam-Nzam Federal Road linking the South-East with the North-Central at Idah in Kogi State to give the Applicant easy access to the northern part of Nigeria.

(d) Failure to exploit the Oil/Gas Reserves in the Anambra Basin and stalling the Applicant’s legitimate expectation from employment and derivation funds for development of the Applicant’s South-East Zone.

(e) Abandonment of the Enugu Colliery and depriving the Applicant of his legitimate expectation from employment and derivation funds for the development of the Applicant’s South-East Zone.

(f) Failure to develop trade-friendly ports and customs policies and establish ‘ease-of-business’ platforms to assist the Applicant’s trading brothers and sisters to do better and operate on a higher and modern scale in trading, which makes the Applicant to spend money to support relatives.

(g) Failure to have an operational international cargo airport at Owerri to aid trading, which causes the Applicant to spend huge sums of money to support trading relatives to haul airborne goods by road from Lagos, , with the attendant risks.

(h) Failure to dredge the Lower Niger and establish a Port at Onitsha to aid trading which causes the Applicant to spend huge sums of money to support trading relatives to haul seaborne goods by road from Port Harcourt or Lagos, with the attendant risks.

(i) Disparity in States structure which puts the Applicant’s South-East Zone behind every other Geopolitical Zone in political and judicial appointments and representation at the National Assembly, as well as in revenue allocation.

(j) Foisting low revenue allocation status on the Applicant’s South-East Zone as a result of failure to exploit Oil/Gas and Coal and as a result of the said structural imbalance.

(k) Over-policing and police menacing of the South-East with alarming number of police ‘check-points’ at which massive extortion of billions of naira annually go on, even while violent crimes continue as if there were no police operatives.

(L) Abandoning the South-East to be swallowed up by erosion; failing to respond to calls to check widening gullies in the South-East, especially in Agulu, Nanka and Obosi all in Anambra State, which have claimed expansive farmlands and homelands and leveled homes, displacing people.

The reliefs sought are:
1. A DECLARATION that the Structural Composition of the States in the 1stRespondent 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.
2. A DECLARATION that in view of the provisions of Section 162(2) Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria 1999, which prescribes not less than 13% of federal allocation accruing directly from natural resources to be paid to the area from where such is derived, the neglect by the 1stRespondent of the huge Coal reserves under the rocky hills of Enugu and the environs in relation to the Applicant and the Group/Class he represents, of its exclusive responsibility by Item 39 in the Exclusive Legislative List, Part I Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, to extract the said coal deposits in commercial quantity in accordance with Section 16(2)(b)of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, while extracting solid minerals in other Geopolitical Zones, is discriminatory and a violation of Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.

  1. A DECLARATION that in view of the provisions of Section 162(2) Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria 1999, which prescribes not less than 13% of federal allocation accruing directly from natural resources to be paid to the area from where same is derived, the neglect by the 1stRespondent of the huge Oil/Gas reserves in the Anambra Basin in relation to the Applicant and the Group/Class he represents, of its exclusive responsibility under Item 39 in the Exclusive Legislative List, Part I Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, to extract the same Oil/Gas for commercial purpose in accordance with Section 16(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, while extracting and exploring same in other Geopolitical Zones, is discriminatory and a violation of Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
  2. A DECLARATION that the neglect by the 1st Respondent of the Federal Roads in the South-East Geopolitical Zone, the neglect of the Niger Bridge which is nearing collapse and failure to put in place a Second Niger Bridge to connect the South-East with other parts of the 1st Respondent, in accordance with Section 15(3)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, when the 1stRespondent does so in other Geopolitical Zones, is contrary to Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
    5. A DECLARATION that the over-policing of the South-East highways with numerous check-points by operatives of the 1stRespondent’s Nigeria Police Force (NPF) at every stretch of road wherein sums in excess of N9 Billion annually are extorted from the South-East people, while kidnapping and other crimes still go on unchecked in violation of Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999; when such extortion and high level of crime are not obtainable in any other Geopolitical Zone, is discriminatory and a violation of the provisions of Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
  3. A DECLARATION that the 1st Respondent’s failure to develop friendly ports and customs policies to assist traders from the South-East Geopolitical Zone to do better in trading and on higher scale; failure to have an operational international cargo airport at Owerri to aid trading and failure to dredge the Lower Niger and establish a Port at Onitsha to aid trading, in accordance with its constitutional obligations under Section 15(4), 16(1)(a) and (2)(a) and 17(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, when it responds to the people of other Geopolitical Zones in respect of their areas of strength in the economic map of the 1st Respondent, are discriminatory acts which violate Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
  4. A DECLARATION that the poor revenue allocation rate foisted on the South-East Geopolitical Zone by the 1st Respondent as a result of failure to exploit Oil/Gas and Coal in the Zone and as a result of the structural imbalance of the States in the South-East vis-à-vis other Geopolitical Zones where the 1stRespondent is mandated under Section 16(2)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to promote “a planned and balanced economic development”, is discriminatory and contrary to the fundamental right of the Applicant guaranteed by Section 42(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
    8. A DECLARATION that the worsening menace of Erosion in the South-East Zone generally and in particular in Agulu, Nanka and Obosi in Anambra State, under the watch and neglect of the 1st Respondent, who responds to similar or less-threatening ecological problems in other Zones with dispatch and commitment, is discriminatory and a violation of the fundamental right of the Applicant and the Group/Class represented guaranteed under Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
  5. AN ORDER directing the 1st Respondent to forthwith prepare and release for immediate execution a comprehensive South-East Development Master Plan (SEDM) for urgent turn-around of the infrastructure in the South-East Geopolitical Zone, and the phased execution of such Master plan to be pursued with dispatch and vigour; which Master Plan must include immediate relief in the following identified areas of neglect:

(a) Complete overhauling of all Federal Highways in the Zone and designing and construction of new ones, including the Anam-Nzam Federal Road linking the South-East with the North-Central at Idah in Kogi State

(b) Exploration of Oil/Gas Reserves in the Anambra Basin

(c) Reinvigoration of modernized mining activities in Enugu

(d) Re-engineering of Niger Bridge at Onitsha and construction of a Second Niger Bridge at Onitsha

(e) Dredging of the Lower Niger and construction of a Lighter Berth at Onitsha, and

(f) Developing a modern international cargo airport in the Eastern Heartland at Owerri

  1. AN ORDER directing the 1st Respondent 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 Geopolitical Zone.
  2. AN ORDER directing the 1st Respondent to forthwith put all its machinery, including but not limited to legal and political apparatus, in motion, with a view to urgently creating TWO ADDITIONAL STATES in the South-East Geopolitical Zone to balance with the Seven States in the North-West, and thereby bring to an end the discriminatory practices against the South-East Geopolitical Zone in terms of legislative representation, political and judicial appointments and net federal allocation accruing to the Geopolitical Zone.
  3. AN ORDER directing the 1st Respondent to take immediate steps to check the excessively aggressive and nefarious, yet ineffective policing of the South-East Geopolitical Zone and putting an end to the extortion going on at the ubiquitous police check-points on the highways in the South-East Geopolitical Zone.
  4. PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the 1st Respondent, whether by itself, its agents, servants or privies, or otherwise howsoever from further acts of discrimination against the Applicant or any member of the Group/Class represented.
    14. GENERAL DAMAGES in the sum ofN1,000,000,000,000 (One Trillion Naira) against the 1st Respondent to be shared among the Five States of the South-East Geopolitical Zone.

The key arguments in support of the application are contained in the written brief to the summons. Section 42 of the constitution provide thus;
(1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or
(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions.
(2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.
Mr. Agbakoba’s main point is that everyone is entitled to equal treatment.
The application was filed at the Federal High Court Enugu and is pending before Mr. Justice A.R. Mohammed

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