Twenty-five Nigerians have filed a lawsuit against the Peoples Republic of China before the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court over its alleged culpability in the spread of the novel Coronavirus and are demanding a $200 billion compensation over the effects of the pandemic on their livelihoods. A team of 11 Senior Advocates of Nigeria ((SANs) and other lawyers led by Professor Epiphany Azinge (SAN) filed the lawsuit. The lawyers say the COVID-19 pandemic started due to their negligence, nuisance, and breach of environmental and humanitarian rights of the Chinese government. The defendants in the suit were listed as the Peoples’ Republic of China, Communist Party of China, Minister of Justice China, Minister in charge of the National Health Commission, National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan Institute of Virology and Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
The claimant in the class action instituted for themselves and other Nigerians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic include; Kingsley Obioha, Shehu Mohammed Bello, Goodrand Nigeria Limited, Chief Ekene Ebuzeme, Prince Akin Oladipo, Sir Mark Olajide, Mr. Tanko Beji, Chief Victor Nwosa, Chidi Onwuemere, Pasaya Travel and Tours Limited, Trips Shop Limited, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, Carolyn Asoanya, Jerry Azinge, His Royal Majesty Williams Ezugwu, Ogugua Ogosi. Others are Ayobami Bakare, Olusegun Nelson, Oshineye Adebowole, Adeolu Odusesan, Yinka Omotosho, Mojeed Adelakun, Ajetoke Oyekan, Abdulhakeem Adeleke and Ademola Toromade.
According to the 1st Claimant, Kingsley Obioha, a young erudite lawyer who represents the class of legal practitioners in the country, the legal practitioners in the country on account of the pandemic have been unable to conduct legal business and make appearances in court.
“The class due to the impasse and the attendant restrictions continues to incur heavy financial losses” Obioha said
In the same vein, Shehu Bello, the 2nd claimant and a Bureau de change operator representing the class of forex traders carrying on business across the country, argued that the forex market was shut down due to the pandemic, causing many forex traders to lose huge returns.
“Most of the operators lost their capital because of the pandemic and with the easing of restrictions are witnessing a volatility of the market leading to a decline in investment,” the claimant said
They accused China of failing to act in accordance with the Articles and the provisions of the International Health Regulations, 2005 which it equally ratified on June 15, 2007 (the IHR) and failing to promptly inform the World Health Organisation (WHO) of its discoveries relating to Covid-19. They argue that China’s action constitutes a breach of the above Articles, and admittedly an express neglect of an international obligation.
Among the reliefs sought include a declaration that the defendants were negligent in their handling of the COVID-19 outbreak which resulted in untold hardship, death, loss of livelihood and disruption of socio-economic activities.
“A declaration that the defendants handling of the Covid-19 outbreak violated the Claimants’ humanitarian rights guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, resulting in social exclusion, loss of human dignity psychological trauma and social deprivations,” among others.