A renowned United States Attorney, Mr. Bruce Fein, and his Partner-Mr. W. Bruce DelValle were in Nigeria for five days (August 19 to 24, 2017) for investigation into the alleged killing and torture of unarmed pro-Biafra protesters, particularly 10 of them who were said to have either killed or tortured by Nigerian security forces during last year’s pro-Biafra protests in Aba, Abia State and Onitsha and Nkpor in Anambra State and Asaba in Delta State. The killings led to institution of a civil action before the US District Court for the District of Columbia by legal representatives of 10 of the victims.
The suit was filed under the Torture Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) in John Doe el al V. Tukur Yusuf Buratai el al (2017).
There are 16 Nigerian defendants, including Governors Willie Obiano and Okezie Ikpeazu of Anambra and Abia States respectively, as well as the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-General Tukur Buratai.
Fein, Principal Attorney of the US Law Firm and leader of the fact-finding team, had served under President Ronald Reagan as an Associate Deputy Attorney-General from 1981 to 1982 and as General Counsel to the Federal Communications Commission. During that period, he also wrote an extensive 30-page critique of Times v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court ruling that freed American media from much of its liability under libel law in the US.
During his visit, the renowned counsel for the 10 Nigerian plaintiffs whose identities are protected by the US Law under victims of crime identity protection process of John Doe had held extensive meetings and verification sessions with all the 10 plaintiffs in Enugu, Nigeria. He also met with other stakeholders including Igbo intelligentsia, first class traditional rulers, civil society organisations, and civil rights activists and human rights lawyers, all in Enugu.
Fein had also thrown more light into the case and expressed his desire to pursue justice to its logical end for the slain and tortured victims. He further disclosed that out of the 16 Nigerian defendants sued personally, 13, including the two Governors, were successfully served. He said that all the 16 defendants had announced and hired a Los Angeles-based Nigerian-born Attorney, Anthony O. Egbase of the A.O.E Law & Associates through Nigeria’s Attorney-General’s Office, to represent them.
Fein and his partner, W. Bruce DelValle returned to the US on Thursday, August 24, 2017. (News Express)