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Oil ownership: Niger Delta monarchs, CSOs sue NASS, demand N1tn damages

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The planned amendment of the 1999 constitution may hit the rocks with Niger Delta ethnic minorities, monarchs, and civil society organisations in the region asking a Federal High Court in Abuja to stop exercise in the National Assembly.

Ijaw national leader and first Republic Federal Commissioner of Information, Edwin Clark, and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo had both been at loggerheads over the ownership of oil in the Niger Delta.

While Clark said oil was for the Niger Delta, Obasanjo said oil belongs to Nigeria and God.

While describing the exercise as illegal, the monarchs and CSOs under the aegis of the Peoples
Confederal Constituents Assembly of Nigeria and Center for Probity and Democratic Studies also demanded N1 trillion damages.

Among the reliefs from the Court were “an order stopping the continued illegal amendment of the purpose expired military ‘Abubakar’ constitution and an order directing the re-adoption of the existing unrepealed and unabrogated people-made 1963 Republican constitution/Nigerian ground norm.”

The plaintiffs were the Regent King of Diobu Kingdom in Delta Nigeria, King Oziwe Amba Albert; Chief Wombo Bulus, Otunba Karim Sekanobi, Chief James Onyi Kokomi, Comrade Danjuma Modu – for themselves and representing the PECCAN and Center for Probity and Democratic Studies.

The suit with Ref. No: FHC/ABJ/CS/8/22 was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by their lawyer, Peter Odion, and obtained by journalists in Abuja on Friday.

According to them, the N1 trillion damages was for the violation of their rights in amending and “using the expired military decreed constitution as an instrument to suppress, oppress, dominate, re-colonise” and seize the natural resources of the applicants and their protected rights under the African and UN charter to own and use their properties and natural resources as also enshrined in the 1963 constitution providing for 50 percent royalties paid for the regions.

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, Clerk of the National Assembly, and Chairman of Senate Committee on Constitution Amendment were listed as respondents.

The suit was titled, “Notice of application for an order enforcing a fundamental right
brought pursuant to Order 2 Rule I of the FREP Rules 2009 Chapter IV, S. 35, 36, 42, 46, 315 and transition constitution decree NO. 24 of 1999, S. 1, 140 of the 1963 Republican constitution of Nigeria, Article, 13, 14, 20 & 21 of the African Charter on Peoples and human rights and Enforcement Act CAP A. 9 LFN 2004; Articles 1,2,7, 21 & 30 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of human rights; international covenant on civil and political rights.”

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