A South-East group, Igbo Board of Deputies, has filed a suit at an Abuja High Court, against the Nigerian government and China Exim Bank for depriving the five Igbo states of capital projects to be funded from a $22.7 billion loan.
The application is asking the China Exim Bank to suspend loan disbursements to the Nigerian government until an amendment is done to include the region in the projects.
This was contained in a statement made available to SaharaReporters by the plaintiffs on Wednesday.
A letter had earlier been written to the Chinese bank in Johannesburg on March 11, 2020, for its involvement in collaborating with the Nigerian government to exclude the South-East from capital projects funded by the loan.
One of the petitioners, Austin Okeke, disclosed that the group has also petitioned the Economic Community of West African States Court.
“Be pleased to note that our court action against the Government of Nigeria, China Exim Bank et al. will be coming up on December 9, 2020, at the Abuja High Court. This is in respect of the $22.7 billion loan, the proceeds of which were deliberately deprived of the five Igbo states of Nigeria,” the statement reads in part.
“On March 11, we delivered a letter of demand to China Exim Bank in Johannesburg, calling upon it to give an undertaking in the following manner.
“Suspend the loan disbursement, alternatively, cancel the approval of the loan to the Nigerian government until it has revised or amended the manner it intends to allocate the proceeds of the loan to include projects in the South East of Nigeria, which projects shall directly benefit the Igbos; and;
“As a condition, tie the loan repayment to the regions of Nigeria that inherit the projects, as Nigeria flounders and threatens to break up,” Okeke said.
He, however, urged the Chinese government to ensure transparency in its funding of capital projects in Nigeria.
“In going forward, the Chinese government must ensure that all projects are valued and open bid for, following international best practices to ensure standard quality and fair cost. The present Nigerian government is prone to project cost inflation, and future generations are not obligated to pay for fraudulently inflated prices. Failing which we shall join China Exim Bank as a Defendant party to the lawsuit against the Government of Nigeria.
“We say so because we do not guarantee the repayment of these loans by the other federating units of Nigeria in so far as the deliberate discrimination against the Igbos in Nigeria persists.
“The Igbos are not beneficiaries of the proceeds of the loan, and shall not participate in servicing and repayment of the same as a matter of principle, fact and law.
“The Igbos shall not be held liable for these loans, not now and in the future. We will not mortgage the rights and interests of our future generations for something they neither partook in nor benefited.”
SaharaReporters, New York