The Federal High Court 5 in Abuja on Friday fixed October 20 for hearing in the suit filed by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), seeking an order directing for a referendum to finally decide the fate of the troubled Nigerian union.
Announcing the adjournment, Justice Ekpo said it was to give 14 days to the Plaintiffs to amend their originating summons and another 14 days for the Defendants to file responses.
Earlier, the Court had granted applications by 16 groups, seeking to be joined as Defendants in the suit bringing the number of Defendants to 20.
Speaking after the adjournment, the lawyer representing the Igbo Nation of the Southeast region, said the CNG had provided a likely solution to the lingering communal bickering by filing the suit.
He said the suit shall serve as a vehicle to address in particular, the marginalisation of the South-East by denying it the opportunity to produce the president of Nigeria.
Reacting, one of the Defendants, the Spokesperson for the group, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, expressed satisfaction at the way the process they initiated was inviting national attention.
Suleiman, however, disagreed with the claim by the lawyer, saying instead, it is the North Central and not the South-East that suffers marginalisation in that context.
“Since ours is a country in which no ethnic group, section, region or political zone can reasonably expect to dominate the others forever, and for the sake of fairness and justice, it becomes morally imperative to consider a formula that would ease tensions by involving every significant component of the Nigerian project.
“If eventually power does shift, and since we’re at this point talking about fairness, the first consideration should be to zones that have never enjoyed the opportunity of fielding candidates for the top offices since the inception of this Fourth Republic.
“A quick check shows that the South-West has fielded and produced a president from 1999 to 2007 and a vice president to serve from 2015 to 2023.
“The South-East has had three opportunities of fielding vice-presidential candidates in All People’s Party (APP), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The South-South has had two years of the vice presidency and another six years of the presidency.
“The North East has fielded and produced a vice president from 1999 to 2007 and was given a presidential ticket in 2019. The North West has had a president from 2007 to 2009, a vice president from 2011 to 2015 and also the current president.
“If Nigerians wish to hear the truth, therefore, they should be told that the North Central is the only geopolitical zone that has never been given the opportunity to field even a vice presidential candidate,” Suleiman said.
SAHARAREPORTERS, NEW YORK