*Claim negligent research activities in Wuhan responsible for the pandemic
*To commence lawsuit on 1st June if …
*Allegations are preposterous, Chinese Govt
By Myke Uzendu
Some Nigerians have demanded immediate payment of the sum of $200 billion from the Peoples Republic of China and some of its agencies as compensation for the losses incurred from the Corona Virus pandemic.
Already, these aggrieved Nigerians have through their lawyers, Azinge and Azinge SAN, given the Chinese President, Zi Jinping, 14-day notice, which expires on Monday, 1st June, to pay the money, failing which “we shall have no option but to commence appropriate legal action against your country in Nigeria”.
Apart from President Jinping, Chinese public figures and agencies including the Chinese Minister of Health, the Director-General of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chief Executive Officer, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Field Epidemiology Training Program, were equally notified as being culpable.
The demand notices dated 18th May, were titled “Letter of Demand for the Payment of USD200 billion as Compensation for the Injurious Effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic on the Represented Peoples of Nigeria”.
Signed on behalf of the claimants by Prof. Epiphany Azinge (SAN), Lead Counsel in the Chambers, the processes were routed to President Jinping through Mr. Zhou Pinjian, the Chinese Ambassador in Abuja.
The pre-action notice states: “We act for a Class of persons, Nigerians in particular, who were injured and adversely affected by the Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) pandemic that broke out in Wuhan, China from inception in or about December 2019 to date and still ongoing, (referred to hereinafter as our “Clients”).
“Our Clients, have instructed us to write this letter to you, demanding from you, the immediate payment of the sum of USD $200 Billion (Two Hundred Billion United States Dollars) being compensation for the injuries and adverse effects so far suffered of the COVID 19 upon their persons, interests; medical, economic, psychological and physiological lives as individuals and in generality, as citizens of Nigeria and elsewhere.
“Your Excellency, it is on record that the activities of the Wuhan Institute of Virology have led to these injuries. The Institute has been known to have conducted, and still conducts laboratory research in harnessing the potentials of the Coronavirus in bats, which said research work, is dangerous to human beings.
“It was in the course of this scientific research activity, that all necessary and essential cautions and due care; which clearly were not taken, led to the escape, from the laboratory, of the Corona virus and its dispersal through infected persons, aerosol circulation, persons moving across the world, to the extent that Nigerians were also infected.”
They insisted that “the Chinese health authorities and Chinese government were aware of the infection and death of its own citizens caused by the Corona virus in Wuhan District of Hubei and failed and/or neglected to timeously notify foreign authorities, countries, peoples and entities of the world, of the eminent dangers that would be occasioned by its potential spread, outside China, causing the devastation that the world has witnessed”.
Notwithstanding, they stated that “Air, land, and sea travels continued unabated during this initial period, exacerbating a deadly situation. Borders were only closed after the spread of this deadly virus internationally,” adding that “this aforesaid negligent and improper conduct of the Wuhan Institute of Virology is the cause of the spread of the COVID 19 disease, health injuries and deaths that followed the pandemic.”
They continued: “Despite the best precautionary measures put in place, Nigerian cases of infection, deaths and destruction continues to grow and are now placed at 4,787 (Four Thousand, Seven Hundred and Eighty-Seven) people across the country.
“The World Health Organization projects that the figures will explode in Nigeria with an increasing number of deaths and a major disaster waiting to occur as a result of the COVID 19 Pandemic in Nigeria.”
They added: “Your Excellency, as you are aware, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (the “Institute”) is administered by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is a national institution of China.
“In consequence the conduct of the Institute is attributable to the government of China. China owes other nations a duty of care not to cause injuries to their interest or embark on acts likely to cause them harm like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Also, China is a signatory of several international protocols and conventions prohibiting wrongful acts likely to cause harm, disasters or loss of lives. The conduct of the Institute and consequently China demonstrates gross negligence and wrongful conduct.
“The instrument binding States, which is the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts 2001 provides in Article 1 thus; Every international wrongful act of a State entails the inter- national responsibility of the State.”
They added that: “With the completely paralysed economic situation in the country, Nigeria has been losing the sum of USD$2.7 billion (Two Billion, Seven Hundred Million US Dollars) worth of business daily with no sign of possible recovery, affecting the ports, oil and gas, markets, transportation: land sea and air, stock trading, services, sports, etc. Our Clients and the citizens of Nigeria have suffered greatly.
“Your Excellency, be informed therefore, that this letter serves as a NOTICE to bring to your attention, that as a result of the stated injuries suffered by our Clients, we demand the payment of the said sum of USD$200 Billion within the next fourteen days from the receipt of this letter by you/your office and your respected Ambassador in Nigeria.
“Be further informed Your Excellency, that if by Monday, the 1st June, 2020, you fail to pay our Clients through our office, the compensation herein demanded, we shall have no option but to commence appropriate legal action against your country in Nigeria, without further recourse or notification to you or your Ambassador in Nigeria.”
Recall that several countries had accused China of being responsible for the pandemic, but these had been vehemently denied by the Chinese government.
The Unites States and Australia had accused China and threatened to drag the country to court, but China denied the allegations, insisting they were not responsible and had intact suffered casualties more than any other country.
*Allegations preposterous, Chinese Government
The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian while reacting, said, “attacking and discrediting other countries from other countries will not save the time and lives lost.
“At this critical moment, we urge that Nigerian legal practitioners should do more to enhance mutual trust and help in the epidemic prevention and control in both countries, rather than dancing to the tune of a certain country to hype up the situation.”