By Akanimo Sampson
Like the State of Missouri in US, a coalition of Nigerian lawyers is bracing for a $200 billion legal battle with China over the killer COVID-19 pandemic.
The goal is to ensure that China takes full responsibility for its alleged negligence that is causing Nigerians untold hardship and pains as the virus continues to spread in the country.
The lawyers are filing a class-action suit against the Chinese government.
This is coming as confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in Nigeria zoomed to 1273 with 91 new cases recorded as at 11.50 p.m on Sunday.
In the meantime, for being the birthplace of the killer coronavirus that is ravaging the world and leaving devastating effects on people, the Nigerian lawyers are slamming a $200 billion suit on the Peoples Republic of China.
The lawyers say the amount they are demanding is to cover damages and compensation for the “loss of lives, economic strangulation, trauma, hardship, social disorientation, mental torture and disruption of the normal daily existence of people in Nigeria.’’
The coalition is galvanized by Professor Epiphany Azinge (SAN), whose firm, Azinge and Azinge, is championing the legal action.
In a statement, the coalition says it is pleading for a “class action’’ against the Chinese government, pointing out that its team of legal experts is planning a two-phase line of action.
The first, according to the coalition, is with the Federal High Court of Nigeria, and the second is to persuade the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to institute a state action against the Peoples Republic of China at the International Court of Justice at Hague.
“The legal experts will be claiming damages to the tune of $200 billion. The Chinese government will be served through its Embassy in Nigeria,’’ the coalition statement says.
Prof. Azinge is a former Director-General of the Nigeria Institute of Legal Studies (NIALS), and currently, a member of the Commonwealth Arbitral Tribunal (CAT) London, representing Nigeria and Africa.
Already, the State of Missouri has sued the Chinese government over the coronavirus pandemic.
In the lawsuit, authorities in Missouri are seeking to hold the Chinese government officially responsible for ‘deceit,’ concealment and inaction’’ that allowed the virus to break out uncontrollably and ravage the world.
Filed in an American Federal Court by the State’s top lawyer, the suit claimed that Chinese officials are “responsible for the enormous death, suffering, and economic losses they inflicted on the world, including Missourians.’’
Furthermore, they are alleging that the Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistleblowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease.
It also accuses the Chinese government of making the pandemic worse by “hoarding’’ masks and other personal protective equipment.