US senior officials move to dismiss IPOB suit against sale of warplane to Nigeria

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are seeking the dismissal of a suit by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) against them.

IPOB filed a complaint against the senior members of President Joe Biden’s cabinet in August, asking a judge to compel them to reverse the recently completed sale of a dozen A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to Nigeria’s air force.

The secessionist movement’s complaint argued that the planes will be deployed against their sympathizers.

IPOB asked a court to stop the proposed sale of the plane to the Nigerian government, saying it will be used to persecute its supporters.

A senior American official said last week that there was an existing agreement between Nigeria and the US that the use of the warplanes would be restricted to the North.

US Principal Deputy National Security Advisor, Jonathan Finer said at an event in Nigeria that terms were explicitly stated before the sale of the plane was concluded, Punch reported on Saturday.

“I think we made it very clear our expectations about this platform where it would be used and in the right way and we are always raising concerns when we have them and that it’s true with all our security partners around the world,” Finer said.

“This is an important platform for security, particularly in the North and we are pleased the transaction is finally concluded.”

United States-based constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein filed the case in a federal court in Washington on Saturday on behalf of IPOB and 10 unidentified individuals based in the secessionists’ heartland in southeastern Nigeria.

However, two United States officials from the office of the United States Secretary of State, who are the defendants in the case, said a federal court in Washington has no jurisdiction to address the claim brought IPOB, according to their motion submitted Oct. 18.

“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.

IPOB’s complaint accused Blinken and Austin violated laws intended to protect civilians from harm caused by U.S. weapons in the possession of foreign security forces.

A spokesman for Nigeria’s Justice Ministry said the government is “globally recognized for respecting human rights” and the allegations in the complaint are “speculative guesswork.”

The Nigerian government which proscribed IPOB as a terrorist organisation in 2017, accused the group of waging a violent campaign against state personnel and assets. But IPOB said it is a peaceful movement working to establish an independent nation in southeastern Nigeria that will defend the Igbo ethnic group against discrimination by the federal government.

Fein said IPOB’s the “ultimate objective is peaceful means to obtain a Biafran sovereignty referendum under United Nations auspices.”

Source: The Guardian

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