Two top United States government officials have asked a court in Washington to dismiss a suit filed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) seeking to stop the American government from selling fighter aircraft to Nigeria, Bloomberg Quint reports.
IPOB, a separatist organisation already proscribed as a terrorist organisation in Nigeria, contends in its suit that the aircraft will be deployed to persecute its supporters if allowed to be sold to the Nigerian government.
It filed its suit against the senior members of President Joe Biden’s cabinet in August, asking the judge to compel them to reverse the recently completed sale of a dozen A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to Nigeria’s air force.
The Nigerian Air Force had on July 22 taken delivery of the first batch of six of the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States.
Edward Gabkwet, Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF Headquarters, who made the announcement, said the aircraft arrived in Kano.
The second and final batch of the aircrafts arrived Nigeria a few days ago, the NAF said.
IPOB, according to Bloomberg Quint, complained that the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin – sued as defendants in the suit violated laws intended to protect civilians from harm caused by U.S. weapons in the possession of foreign security forces.
IPOB said in its suit filed at the federal court in Washington in August that if the sale of the aircraft was not reversed, the planes would be deployed against its sympathisers.
But both U.S. officials argued in their motion filed on October 18 that the federal court in Washington lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate on IPOB’s claim.
“It would be inappropriate for the court to weigh in on a sensitive foreign affairs matter,” the U.S. officials said in their response requesting the dismissal of the case
There have been reports media that the Super Tucano aircrafts were sold to Nigeria on the grounds that it they would only be deployed to combat terrorists.
The separatist organisation leading agitation for an independent Republic of Biafra mainly constituted by the Igbo-dominated states in the South-eastern Nigeria and some parts of the South-south, has been linked to many violent attacks in the regions.
Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, on Friday, blamed the killing of some prominent Nigerians and 175 security agents between October 2020 and June 2021 on IPOB and its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
About 164 police stations and formations were also attacked by the group during the period, Mr Malami said.
The leader of the group, Nnamdi Kanu, who was recently rearrested outside Nigeria after fleeing the country in 2017, was re-arraigned on charges of terrorism and treasonable felony on Thursday.
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