American Veterans of Igbo Descent (AVID) has filed a lawsuit against an American lecturer, Dr Ivan Sascha Sheehan and the University of Baltimore, Maryland, US, for publishing an article which labelled the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a terrorist organisation.
AVID, which comprises Nigerians of Igbo extraction who have served in different branches of the United States military, filed the lawsuit recently at the US District Court for the District of Maryland, accusing Dr Sheehan of publishing seven defamatory points in Washington Times against IPOB on Monday, October 4, 2021.
In a 16-page court document made available to Vanguard on Tuesday by IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu’s Special Counsel, Aloy Ejimakor, the group demanded that defendants – Dr Sheehan and the University of Baltimore pay $2 million and $1.5 million for general and special damages respectively.
The document partly read, “Plaintiff, American Veterans of Igbo Descent (“AVID”), through its undersigned attorney, and files this Amended Complaint for defamation seeking, among other reliefs, compensatory and punitive damages against Defendants, Ivan Sascha Sheehan and the University of Baltimore, Maryland.
“In support of this Amended Complaint, Plaintiff realleges all the allegations of Initial Complaint as if fully set forth herein and Plaintiff further states that the Initial Complaint was amended for misnomer (University of Maryland Baltimore) and that the amendment correctly named the Defendant (University of Baltimore.”
In the statement of facts, it said, “On or about Monday, October 4, 2021, Defendant Sheehan published in The Washington Times an “ANALYSIS/OPINION” defamatory article headlined “US ignores small African terrorist group IPOB at its peril.
“The article contained multiple defamatory falsehoods about IPOB published with ill will and with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard of whether they were true or not. Defamatory falsehood number 1 asserted “An African terrorist organization [IPOB] is suing U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken….” IPOB is not a terrorist organization under U.S. law or any law of a foreign country other than Nigeria.
“IPOB’s designation as terrorist organization in Nigeria was made via a judicial edict with no hearing or due process. IPOB opposes violence. It supports an independent Biafran sovereignty by peaceful means. At present, the Federal Republic of Nigeria is engaged in an ongoing genocide of Biafrans.
“Terrorist organizations employ unlawful violence against civilians to advance political objectives. IPOB does not. Defamatory falsehood number 2 asserted, in context, that IPOB deserves listing as a foreign terrorist organization by the Secretary of State pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act: “The violent secessionist group in question—the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)—is yet to be designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US Department of State.”
The group, therefore, demanded that defendants – Dr Sheehan and the University of Baltimore pay $2 million and $1.5 million as general and special damages respectively among others.
It read further, “WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands judgment against Defendants, jointly and severally as follows: (a) For general damages as to Counts 1-14 of not less than TWO MILLION DOLLARS as to each count or such other amount to be determined at trial;
“(b) For special damages as to Counts 1-14 of not less than ONE MILLION FIVE DOLLARS as to each count or such other amount to be determined at trial;
“(c) For punitive damages against each Defendant as to Counts 1-14, respectively, in an amount to be determined at trial, but not less than ten times the amount of general and special damages as to each count, to punish and penalize Defendants and to deter repetition.
“(d) For an injunction requiring Defendants to remove all statements adjudicated defamatory in this case from all websites or other digital, social media, or hard copy platforms in their control.
“(e) For an injunction requiring Defendants to publish a retraction of the statements found defamatory including a retraction published in The Washington Times. (f) For attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by Plaintiffs in this action; and, (g) For such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.”