Biafra-Nigeria Civil War: ECOWAS intervenes, grants parties out-of-court settlement

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The Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS on Wednesday granted the last opportunity to parties in a N50 billion damages suit to settle out of court.

The application was filed by Mr Vincent Agu and 19 others against the Federal Government for its alleged negligence to remove remnants of landmines and explosives from the civil war.

The applicants claimed that since the end of the Civil War in 1970, landmines and other explosives continued to “maim, kill and destroy innocent lives” in their various communities in Eastern Nigeria.

They claimed that the non-removal of the explosives had also caused injuries to the applicants.

Joined in the case are the Ministry of Defence as well as the minister as second and third defendants.

Others are R.S.B. Holdings Nigeria Limited, and Deminers Concept Nigeria Limited and the Attorney-General of the Federation as the fourth, fifth and sixth defendants.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Friday Nwoke ruled that the court would give another opportunity for the parties to settle.

“The matter will be adjourned until May 15 for report of settlement.

“Where parties fail to settle, then the matter will be adjourned for definite hearing.’’ he said.

Earlier, counsel to the applicants, Mr Alex Williams told the court that the unresponsiveness of the fourth and fifth defendants had stalled the process of settlement.

Williams further prayed the court to decide on the case and rule out the option of settlement.

In his response, counsel to the fourth and fifth defendants, Mr Charles Uhegbu, however, argued his team was shut out of the process of settlement and claimed that the counsel to the applicants “dragged the matter”.

Counsel to the first, second and third defendant, Mr Sola Egbeyinka, however, argued that the fourth and fifth defendants were “never shrouded at any point and were fully aware of the terms of settlement”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the applicants are seeking for an order directing the defendants to pay N50 billion as damages.
They are also seeking an order directing the defendants to remove all bombs and remnants of war used during the Civil War and embark on rehabilitation in the identified locations.

The locations are the South-East, South-South and parts of North-Central zones.

They also sought an order directing the Federal Government to set up a Mine Action Authority and National Programme on Mine Action.

The applicants are also asking that the court direct the defendants to assist victims in skills acquisition and training and re-integration. (NAN)

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