Why Buhari must release detained Cameroonian freedom fighters – Falana
Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate release of the detained Cameroonian freedom fighters.
He also cautioned the federal government against releasing the freedom fighters to Cameroonian President, Paul Biya.
He said in a statement issued in Lagos yesterday that this was because Nigeria has no extradition treaty with Cameroon.
A team of armed officials of the State Security Service (SSS) had on Saturday, invaded Nera Hotel in Abuja and arrested seven leaders of the Southern region of Cameroon agitating for the independent state of Ambazonia.
The arrested freedom fighters are: Mr. Sikiku Tabe, the leader of the group. Others are Professor Che Awasum, Mr. Nalowa Bih, a lawyer as well as Dr. Fidelis Che, Dr. Nfor Ngala Nfor, Dr. Henri Kumeng and Dr. Cornelius Kwanga. They have since been held incommunicado at an undisclosed place by the SSS.
The detainees have been denied access to their lawyers, doctors and family members contrary to the provisions of the United Nations Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners.
Reacting to the development, Falana contended that the Attorney-General of the Federation also lacks the vires to initiate extradition proceedings under the Extradition Act (E25) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 for the extradition of the detained Cameroonian freedom fighters.
Although the federal government is under pressure from President Biya to hand over the detainees to the security forces in Cameroon, the learned silk pointed out that the detainees are entitled to reside or visit Nigeria without any molestation.
“To that extent, the federal government has no power whatsoever to hand them over to President Paul Biya. The detained Cameroonian freedom fighters deserve to be released unconditionally from the unlawful custody forthwith. “Instead of using the SSS to fight the proxy war of President Paul Biya the federal government should direct the SSS and other security forces to collaborate with the Nigeria Police Force to fish out the criminal elements that have unleashed mayhem on the people of Benue State”, he said.
Falana argued that since the Cameroonians entered Nigeria legitimately their arrest and detention by the federal government cannot be justified under the law.
“As Africans, the detainees are entitled to the human rights to personal liberty, freedom of association and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution. Furthermore, their unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination is protected by Article 20 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which has been ratified by both Nigeria and Cameroon.
“Having failed to crush the ideas which recently led to the demand for the State of Biafra by the members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra the (IPOB), the federal government should not attempt to provoke the marginalized people of Southern Cameroon by frustrating their legitimate demand for an independent state of Ambazonia.
“Since the federal government has not succeeded in completely defeating the dreaded Boko Haram sect it should not declare war on the people of Southern Cameroon and thereby further expose the displaced people of Bakassi to reprisal attacks”, he advised.