….Demands N15 Trillion damages.
By Sadiq Abubakar, Abuja
An FCT high court sitting at Maitama, Abuja, on Thursday, adjourned till April 24, 2023 to hear a suit filed by the registered trustees of the FCT natives under the aegis of the Abuja Original Inhabitants Youth Empowerment Organization (AOIYEO) for and on behalf of the indigenes of the territory.
The suit is seeking that the FCT be granted the full status of a state like the existing 36 states with its own state governor, house of assembly and additional national assembly seats.
The suit marked: FCT/HC/CV/85/2023 which was filed by counsel to the applicant, James Egah Nadeye, has the president, the National Assembly and the Attorney General of the Federation as 1st to 3rd respondents respectively.
The suit is also seeking for a court order enforcing the fundamental right to freedom from discrimination and dignity of FCT natives.
The presiding judge, Justice Sylvanus Orji, adjourned hearing in the matter till April on account of the absence of legal representations for the president and Attorney General of the Federation.
Counsel to the national qssembly who was present, pleaded the court to reschedule the hearing to allow counsels to the 1st and 3rd respondents in the suit properly be served.
The applicants in the suit held that on the 18th of March, 2023, governorship and house of assembly elections were conducted nationwide in the 36 states of the federation except the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
They held in their suit that as Nigerian citizens who are indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, they are the only people who do not enjoy representation in the state government with a Legislative body akin to the state House of Assembly and an Executive body akin to that of a state Governor.
They held that they are aggrieved for not being accorded the privileges and rights to participate in elections to vote and to stand for elections into legislative and executive bodies akin to state House of Assemble and Governor of a state like their counterparts in the 36 states of the Federation.
They also noted that indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory are the only people who are governed by a Minister as a Governor acting for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“That no Minister has ever been appointed by the President from among the indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja particularly the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory who have been non-indigenes since its creation in 1976.
“That the foregoing amounts to a denial of the FCT indigenes’ right to dignity of their person and freedom from discrimination as enshrined in sections 34, 42 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and the African Charter on Humans and Peoples’ Rights.
“That indigenes of FCT Abuja stated that they are in a dire political straits which requires the President and National Assembly to exercise their constitutional and legislative duty even if it means to go extra miles by extra-constitutional civil means such as applying the ‘Doctrine of Necessity” in consideration of the exigency situation in the FCT to protect the well-being of the residents particularly indigenes of FCT, Abuja and pass a ‘Resolution”.
The natives, therefore, held that providing for a political arrangement for the FCT, such as the executive and legislative bodies, equal to the states of the federation for the purpose of elections into such offices as a matter of “necessity” to end the discrimination against the applicant and those whose interest they seek to protect.
The applicant, however, urged the court to follow persuasive authorities of the United States of America where the courts interprets the legislative powers of the congress to go without limitation to explore constitutional provisions and provide self-government for the citizens of America who are residents of Washington D.C.
The Plaintiffs’ further claimed that as a result of the acts of the President and national assembly by their refusal, neglect, and failure to provide for the FCT Abuja, a political structure wherein indigenes shall participate in elections like their counterpart citizens in the states of the federation for Governorship and House of Assembly, the Plaintiffs suffered general damages.
Hence, the applicants, however, demanded the sum of N15,000,000.000.000.00 (Fifteen Trillion Naira) only for damages for the infringement of their fundamental rights of freedom from discrimination and dignity of person and the sum N1,000,000.000.000.00 (One Trillion Naira) only as damages for the infringement of their fundamental rights of freedom from discrimination against appointment of a Minister of the Federal Republic Nigeria.