Neglect: South East sues FG, demands N1trn
Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, rights lawyer, has sued federal government on behalf of South East demanding N1 trillion for alleged neglect of the region.
He is demanding the money for himself and on behalf of the people of south east.
The constitutional lawyer is relying on section 42 of the 1999 constitution and asking for an injunction stopping government from further discrimination against the Igbo people,
The former President of Nigeria Bar Association is asking for the money which should be shared among the five states in the East.
He averred that there was currently a structural imbalance against the South East which has placed the people in political and economic disadvantage.
“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.”
He is 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, and thereby 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 suit is also asking the Federal High Court for 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.”
Other grounds upon which the action was filed is the alleged abandonment 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.
They cited the abandonment of federal roads, which are death traps and robbery baits and occasioning and constraining on the applicants' grueling road journeys within the geo-political zone as another reason for the suit.
It is their contention that the 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 applicants easy access to the northern part of Nigeria is discriminatory.
The grounds of the suit also include failure to exploit the Oil/Gas Reserves in Anambra Basin and stalling the applicants' legitimate expectation from employment and derivation funds for development of the Applicant's South-East Zone.
The applicants further cited the abandonment of the Enugu Colliery and depriving them legitimate expectation from employment and derivation funds for the development of the South-East zone as grounds of their action.
The suit further raised concern over the failure to have an operational international cargo airport at Owerri to aid trading, which causes the applicants to spend huge sums of money to support trading relatives to haul airborne goods by road from Lagos, with the attendant risks.
The failure to dredge the Lower Niger and establish a Port at Onitsha to aid trading which causes the applicants 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, has also prompted the action of the applicants.
They also alleged disparity in states structure, which puts the South-East zone behind every other geo-political zone in political and judicial appointments and representation at the National Assembly, as well as in revenue allocation.
Also, foisting low revenue allocation status on the South-East Zone as a result of failure to exploit Oil/Gas and Coal and as a result of the said structural imbalance is adduced as a ground for the suit.