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PRETORIA – Activists fighting for the independent state of Ambazonia (Anglophone Cameroon) have vowed to continue their quest for freedom and the right to self-determination in the face of reprisals from President Pau Biya’s government, which has respondent with heavy-handedness and killed thousands since 2017.

The activists said this Friday, as they staged a protest at the Nigerian Embassy in Pretoria, where they called on the West African nation to – partly, intervene to stop a genocide being meted on their fellow activists by Biya’s security forces, which have so far killed an estimated more than 5,000, displaced more than 800,000 and destroyed infrastructure since 2017, when Anglophone Cameroon declared its independence and announced an interim government.

Estimates are that more than 300,000 people from Cameroon’s troubled Anglophone region now live as refugees in Nigeria and the activists wanted guarantees for the safety of those refugees.


Patrick Ayuk addresses protestors

Safety for Cameroonian political refugees was breached on January 5 2019, when 10 Ambazonian leaders, including their leader, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, were seized at gunpoint by Nigerian Security officials and eventually deported back to Cameroon, in utter disregard for the international law and principles guiding political prisoners and other asylum seekers.

The leaders were held incommunicado between the Nigerian and Cameroon government for six months, allegedly in deplorable conditions where they were denied access to family or legal representatives, in violation of the international Human Rights Law of the 1951 United Nations Convention (Article 33) on refugees and 1967 protocol, as well as the African Charter for Human Rights to which both Nigeria and Cameroon are signatories.

The 10 were charged with 10 counts under Cameroon’s anti-terrorism law and if convicted, they could face the death penalty over what they argue is their struggle for an independent state they call Ambazonia.

On March 1 this year, the Federal High Court of Nigeria ruled in Abuja that the abduction and subsequent deportation of 10 leaders and 39 youths from the former British colony of South Cameroon, who had sought refuge in the West African country, was illegal.

The activists said Friday’s protest was partly meant to request the Nigerian government to adhere to and fully implement the court judgment.

“The Judgment of the Federal High Court of Abuja was testimony of the fairness of the Nigerian Judiciary system,” said Patrick Ayuk, Director of the Sam Soya Centre for Democracy and Human Rights.

“While we greatly appreciate it, we are now calling on the executive arm of the Nigerian Government to heed the Judgment and ensure that all the 51 persons listed are freed and compensated as indicated in the ruling.”

The activists solicited the urgent intervention of the Nigerian government to prove to the world that it respected the rulings of its own courts and thereby immediately engage French Cameroon to have all 51 detainees, including members of the Ambazonian Interim Government and other asylum seekers abducted in Nigeria and unlawfully deported back to Cameroon to be sent back to Nigeria and compensated as stipulated in the Court Ruling of March 1.

Other demands were that Nigeria should call on the government of Cameroon to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its “armed terrorist forces of occupation and colonial administrators from the territory of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia (the Southern Cameroons) by respecting the Section 40 and Article 20 of the Africa Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) which give a people their unquestionable and inalienable right to Self Determination, an Act violated by the Nigerian Government when it deported our people back to French Cameroun as cited in the Abuja Court Ruling of 1st March 2019.”

Nigeria should create an opportunity for constructive dialogue

”Nigeria should also create the opportunity for constructive dialogue in the presence of credible third parties, including the UK, the United Nations and the African Union to address the root cause of the problems, intervene to stop the Genocide currently meted on the Ambazonian people, continue to assist refugees from Southern Cameroons, by providing them with a safe haven and other much needed assistance in Nigeria and honour its vote of Independence that it accorded British Southern Cameroons on 30th April 1960,” read a statement from the protestors.

Source: africanvoiceglobal

Falana promised to institute a legal case of contempt proceeding against the NSA and Nigerian government if they failed to return the deported refugees within the stipulated time.

Femi Falana (SAN), foremost human rights lawyer, has given the Nigerian government two weeks to bring back refugees and asylum seekers deported to their countries by the National Security Adviser (NSA).

In a letter dated March 20, 2019, Falana informed Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney-General of the Federation, of the court judgments against the NSA.

Judgments were given in two suits; FHC/ABJ/CS/147/2018 by Wilfred Tassang and 50 others against the NSA and FHC/ABJ/CS/85/2018 by Mr. Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and 10 others against the NSA.

Falana stated that refugees and asylum seekers are guaranteed legal protections according to 1999 Constitution, the National Commission for Refugees (Establishment Etc) Act, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations on Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees Commission. 

Falana wrote: “In view of the foregoing, we are compelled to request you to use your good offices to advise the Federal Government to comply with the aforesaid judgments of the Federal High Court without any further delay.

“In particular, you may wish to draw the attention of the relevant authorities to the case of the Minister of Internal Affairs v. Alhaji Shugaba Darman (1982) 3 NCLR 915 where the respondent who had been illegally deported to the Republic of Chad by the Federal Government was brought back to Nigeria in compliance with the orders of the Borno State High Court presided over by the Honourable Justice Oye Adefila of blessed memory.”

Falana promised to institute a legal case of contempt proceeding against the NSA and Nigerian government if they failed to return the deported refugees within the stipulated time.

Falana had on March 1, won a case he instituted against the government when Justice Anwali Chinkere of the Federal High Court ordered that deportation of refugees and asylum seekers is illegal and unconstitutional.

A key Cameroonian separatist leader, Julius Ayuk Tabe, and 46 others were deported from Nigeria after their arrest in Abuja.

Ayuk, President of a self-declared breakaway state made up of the Anglophone regions of majority-Francophone Cameroon, was one of 15 people whom Cameroon issued an international arrest warrant for in November 2017.

Cameroonian Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary approved the move, saying “a group of 47 terrorists, among them Mr. Ayuk Tabe, has for some hours been in the hands of Cameroonian justice, before which they will answer for their crimes.”

He also praised Nigeria for joining Cameroon in “never tolerating their respective territories serving as a base for activities that destabilise one or the other”.

Source: saharareporters

The leaders of Ambazonia abducted and illegally deported from Nigeria to Cameroon, have said faced with their current trial, they have only two choices; Independence or resistance to the last man standing. This decision is contained in a letter signed by the leaders currently locked up at the Kondengui prison in Yaounde.

In the letter obtained by CNA, the leaders of the former territory of British Southern Cameroons, now preferred Ambazonia, seeking a break-away from Cameroon, said they are tired of being tossed from one place to another by whom they described as colonizers.

They promised that the State of Ambazonia will be unique, free and will have concern for the weak, the less privilege, women, children among others.

They apologised for not being there to stop the massacre perpetrated by Cameroon Soldiers but promised that they will rebuild their nation , eliminate tribalism and encourage good governance.

The letter comes few days to a crucial court session on March 7, 2019 when the kidnapped leaders are expected at the military court in Yaounde.

It also comes barely days after the Nigerian Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the Nigerian Government to bring back the leaders from Cameroon.

The court ruled that, their kidnap and deportation did not respect international laws because the deportees were duly registered or in the process of having refugee status.

“The Ambazonia Freedom Protocol:” defines the nature and values of the society the Ambazonia movement envisions to a global audience. The anonymous person who leaked the document pointed to the fact that it also contains the minimum acceptable terms for any negotiations to end the conflict between Cameroon and the former UN trust territory of Southern Cameroons under UK administration now christened Ambazonia, after the 1st of October 2017 declaration of the restoration of their statehood by the leader Sisiku Ayuktabe.

Source: cameroonnewsagency

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Nigeria court demands the return of H.E. Sisiku AyukTabe and Co. For detail report and analysis click here

The judgment of the Nigeria Federal High Court in Abuja on March 1, 2019, declaring illegal and unconstitutional, the abduction and deportation to Cameroun of the President of the Interim Government of the Southern Cameroons/
Ambazonia Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, members of the Interim Government and several Southern Cameroons refugees carries significant symbolic weight.
The judgment has comprehensively determined the legal status of the abductees which was in controversy since Cameroun characterized them as terrorists on the account of alleged crimes committed against Cameroun from the territory of Nigeria; so, the Isa Tchiroma and the Court-martial alleged.

The Federal High Court of Abuja Nigeria on the territory of which the crimes alleged in the court-martial were allegedly committed has decided that they are persons who were legally in the territory of Nigeria as refugees under the protection of international conventional law at the time of their abduction and deportation. They were not therefore terrorists nor did their presence and activities constitute terrorism to warrant their being characterized as terrorists to warrant abduction and deportation to face a court-martial. Even if they were terrorists, international law still outlawed the abduction and deportation without compliance with the municipal and international rule of law.

This judicial determination settles a key issue in the subsequent case brought against the victims by Cameroun, the state to which they were deported. The failure of the court-martial in Cameroun where the abductees are forcefully subjected over their objections, to take judicial notice of the Judgment of the Abuja Federal High Court will have bilateral relations and multilateral treaty obligations consequences on the two countries, in the short and long term. Nigeria and Cameroun are state parties to the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees and its Additional Protocol 1967. Both countries are state parties to the OAU 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of the Refugee Problem in Africa which came into force in 1974.

The refugee problem globally and in Africa is a matter of significant international emergency, if not a humanitarian crisis. Without the existing multilateral treaty regime to manage this humanitarian crisis, millions, of the world’s vulnerable refugee population will be pursued across international boundaries and slaughtered by the murderous regimes and criminal squads from whom they fled in the search for protection. International law mandates state parties to the Refugee Convention to open their frontiers to allow refugees fleeing from wars, genocide, crimes against humanity and other life-threatenin
g conditions to their lives to provide them protection.

International law outlaws the abduction, deportation, rendition or the refoulement of persons who have sought refugee status to the countries from which they fled. Once the status of refugees is sought or obtained, the person concerned becomes a ward of international law under the Refugee Convention and its Additional Protocol. State Parties to the Refugee Convention are mandated to ensure compliance and indeed are obligated to submit periodic reports on compliance with their treaty obligations under the convention. Nigeria and Cameroun had a multilateral obligation to ensure that the refugee status of the abductees in Nigeria was respected and protected. Their mandate and responsibility are to the international community, since the 1951 Refugee Convention has near world wide membership.

By engaging in criminal conduct to abduct and deport the victims to face a court-martial that applies the death penalty to Cameroun, Nigeria and Cameroun betrayed, violated and endangered the multilateral treaty regime and a protected international human rights value system.
The Federal High Court Judgment provided an opportunity to Nigeria to explain to the world, the rationale and legality of the abductions.

It is significant that Nigeria did not convince the court that the abduction and deportation was informed by any compellable reasons justifiable in municipal and/or international law. Nigeria did not convince the court of any legally justified reason to violate with impunity the Nigeria Federal Constitution (1969), its multilateral treaty obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and its Additional Protocol, the African Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Rome Statute. There is no compelling reason to explain why Nigeria mortgaged its reputation, its influence in Africa and its claims to lead and represent Africa as a world power at the UN Security Council to fulfil the dictatorial and criminal proclivities of a regime baying for the blood of millions of Southern Cameroonians. Hundreds of thousands of Southern Cameroonians have been deported by Cameron from their ancestral home which are systematically torched as a deliberate government policy as senior military commanders and civilian government officials have admitted, across the border with Nigeria. The victims who at a great risk of a genocide sought international protections within the territory of Nigeria are living under continuing threat of abduction and assassination, after Nigeria provided support to Cameroun to pursue the commission of international crimes against them in the territory of Nigeria.

The answer as to what endeared President Muhammadu Buhari to place Nigeria at the centre of an unfolding genocide, rather than acting as a facilitator of negotiations and peace may not be answered in this one critical historic judgment. Yet the judgment has the merit of laying an enduring foundation for answers to be provided within the compelling injunction of history. The truth, it is said, will never die with those who thought they could imprison it with sheer political chicanery and stealth transborder corrupt operations. Truth is as stubborn as a rock. Nigeria and Cameroun are aware, and this is important that the underlying cause of the war declared by Paul Biya as a proxy of France, are the resources within the territory of the Southern Cameroons.

These minerals are the umbilical cord to the perennial Nigeria misadventure that has devastated the Niger Delta, its ecosystem, maritime resources, economy and human health. Time will reveal if there are a convergence of economic and hegemonic interests by the known yet, invisible political god fathers enforcing the genocide using Nigeria and Cameroun proxies.

I learnt from my years as a lead counsel at the Special Court for Sierra Lone, in the case of the Revolutionary United from for Sierra Leone (RUF)-Morris Kallon that minerals are the curse of Africa. That is why Central Africa Republic has never been at peace since independence despite its mineral rich capabilities. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one case in point; so also, Burundi where abundant mineral resources have attracted the interest and wrath of neo-colonial economic and natural resource predators.

The bazaar auctioning of the Southern Cameroons at independence as my late friend Dr Bate Besong stated, or the Mc McLeod slave deal, as the father of Ambazonia Fon Gorgi Dinka described it, was intended to silence the liberating ambition of Ambazonia patriots. For the record, the slave and bazaar dealers did not know that Ambassbay from which Ambazonia derived its name, stood watch over the liberating spirit of its Ambazonia offspring. Ambassbay is a natural environment for the sharks in the Ambazonia sea as opposed to the neighbouring sea which is inhabited by “crayfish”.

Those with a good sense of aquatic life know that a shark is not an ordinary fish, surely not a crayfish. And this is where the difference lies.
This judgment of the Abuja Federal High Court conveys an underlying message to the abductors that the abduction of Southern Cameroons leaders and citizens will have consequences that may potentially threaten peace and security in the Gulf of Guinea. That Nigeria has become a key ally of the state actor that declared the war of choice that have the capacity of igniting a conflagration in the Gulf of Guinea affecting its own citizens and interests on both sides of the borders, is a matter of profound concern.

The judgment is a municipal judgment on compliance by Nigeria of its multilateral treaty constitutional obligations. Finding that Nigeria violated its municipal laws and treaty obligations, is an important contribution to international law. This judgment therefore must be served on the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, all the permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council through their permanent representations in New York, all ECOWAS state parties through their diplomatic representations in Abuja, the EU state parties present in Brussels, the AU Commission, and give wide publicity.
This judgment negates the charge by Cameroun that the abductees were and are terrorists.

Nigeria did not make this charge before and during the hearing. Nigeria should be concerned that persons found to be refugees by its own judiciary are facing a court-martial based on international and municipal violations of its own government. With this judgment, the blood of the abductees and other Southern Cameroonians will lay on the hands of Nigeria should they be further held in violation of this judgment or should they be executed pursuant to the court-martial.
International law mandates that any offence committed on the territory of Nigeria can be investigated and prosecuted by Nigeria failing which Nigeria can send the refugees to a third country willing to accept them but not to the country from which they fled and sought refuge in Nigeria.

Will Nigeria submit itself to a court-martial in Cameroun to provide evidence of acts alleged in the charges before the court-martial that were allegedly committed in Nigeria? Does Nigeria recognize a court-martial for civilians which is international human rights jurisprudence has characterised as torture and thus illegal? Does Nigeria by the abductions give legal approval to the crime of abduction which criminalised under the Rome Statute which Nigeria is a state party? Is abduction of civilians not one of the crimes alleged against Boko Haram in which hundreds of thousands of Nigerian civilians have lost their lives? The Abuja High Court trial was an occasion for Nigeria to prove that abduction is legal when conducted by a state actor but illegal when carried out by non-state actors. Nigeria failed to prove this or even convince the court that this crime may be legal under such or other circumstances.

Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari tends to disobey court orders and indeed disobeyed the order of the Federal High Court in Abuja made by Justice Gabriel Kolawole dated December 2, 2016 ordering the release of Ibrahim el Zazaky the leader the Shiite Muslim Movement who was abducted by the DSS on December 13, 2015. The DSS alleged that he was detained at his own request for protection. The Judge was unpersuaded on the grounds that protective custody was unknown to law or National Security Agencies Act establishing the DSS. Since December 29, 2015, Colonel Abubakar Malami former National Security Adviser of President Goodluck Jonathan has remained in jail despite court orders for his release.
However, in a suit brought by a constitutional lawyer Johnmary Jideobi praying the court to void the SAN of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami for professional misconduct for advising the Federal Government to disrespect court orders, the Attorney General refused being held accountable for advising the Federal Government to disrespect court orders and that he was not informed about the detentions and so his advice was never sought in the cases. The Attorney General argued in his defence that in cases where his advice was sought, he advised, and the Federal Government complied with court orders. He cited the release on bail of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu the leader of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) and that of the survivals of an attack on an uncompleted house in Abuja which was stormed and murdered by some operatives of the National Intelligence Services after the Nigeria Human Rights Commission ordered that victims and their dependents be compensated.
This defence by the attorney therefore begs the questions, if he was never informed how then did, he enters appearance to defend the illegal actions of the Nigeria Government?

Africa, and African leaders should hail the Judgment of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in Abuja and pressurise Nigeria and Cameroun to execute it without delay. This judgment protects the municipal and international protections of refugees afforded by multilateral treaties and municipal constitutional provisions. The international multilateral treaty regime has been tested and proved to be critical in checking the excesses and exactions of the world refugee crisis and the humanitarian calamity that is rocking the conscience of humanity. In their imposed inhuman dungeons Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and the Ambazonia abductees represent the face of humanity at risk. This judgment protects that human value represented by Sisiku Ayuk Tabe.

African leaders and the international community should applaud this judgment and pressurise Nigeria and Cameroun to obey and execute it.

This judgment should be a shock reminder to everyone, the powerful and the weak, that a refugee is a protected ward of humanity and the legal regimes emplaced to protect him or her attest to this fact. Abducting and deporting refugees to be court-martialled or placing them in harm’s way tantamount to driving a sword on the collective conscience of humanity. This should not be allowed to happen without consequences.
I have a message for those responsible for the abduction and court-martial of civilian victims.

Respecting this judgment may be the only opportunity for them to avoid placing their own poisoned chalices to their own lips. Babatoura Ahmadou with the use of terror pursued nationalists who sought refuge in foreign lands but died a refugee himself in solitude in distant Senegal. The refugee status he imposed on others and pursued, abducted and killed or assassinated them was the status that protected and sustained him until he died. In 1968, Joseph Desire Mobutu otherwise called Mobutu Sese Seko lured and murdered Pierre Mulele over strong world-wide appeals and condemnation. Mobutu died a miserable refugee in Morocco.

The extensive empire he acquired through, murder, looting and plundering the mineral resources of his country are in ruins. The blood of the thousands he slaughtered to keep himself in eternal power still haunts the memory of him. His countrymen and women are even traumatised turning his extensive empire into the memorial for his innocent victims.
This recorded history may already have extended a hand of invitation to the actors in the theatre of criminality and violations that the Federal High Court High Court in Abuja addressed in this judgment.

Whether they will on their own volition abide by this judgment, is not known to me. However, this judgment is addressed to the collective conscience of Humanity represented by the multilateral treaty regime which the court found was violated. The multilateral treaty regime must demonstrate that it has teeth and that it must not condone or encourage the impunity of state violators of their treaty obligations, lest it wrongly encourages non-state actors. Nigeria itself has a refugee problem in far and distant lands, including Cameroun. It will be unfortunate if Nigerians allow their government to determine their fate through the legitimisation of the violations found in this judgment.

I wish to conclude by addressing a few words to Ambazonians who should be strategizing on how to rely on this judgment to highlight their predicament worldwide where ever they find themselves.

I am appalled by how much social media activism and sideshows are distracting them from following the rapidly evolving events that may determine their fate yet again while they are asleep or self-destructing in search of power. While internal squabbles must be addressed, that cannot override rallying behind the Interim Government that instructed the lawyers working on this and other cases to raise the profile of the cases to the highest levers of international intervention.

While not trivialising the complaints or matters which some components of the struggle may hold dear to their hearts, and I will not and never get involved in such squabbles, I strongly advise all Ambazonians, to henceforth recognize that the Abuja abduction of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others and their deportation to Cameroun requires a strong international legal intervention. It is a crime against the Rome Statute which Nigeria is a state party. The unwritten underpinning of the Judgment indeed has this implication. It has violated the UN multilateral treaty regime and that of the AU.

Social media activism alone will not get this judgment executed, enforced. It will not rely on the judgment to pursue all international crimes and violations in which hundreds and thousands of civilians are systematically exterminated and civilian settlements, places of worships and hospitals are torched and reduced to rubbles. It is therefore advisable to support the IG to move quickly to fulfil these tasks while other weighty issues are internally reviewed and quickly redressed without the intension of rocking the boat for the sake of power.

Protracted disagreement empowers adversaries. Clearly established areas of agreement should be identified, and prioritised and collective action sought to attain the position outcomes while perennial disagreements struggle for institutional solutions. What cannot wait even for a minute are contributions intended for the collective good, the protection of victims, refugees, vulnerable categories and preventive and protective strategies.

Author: Chief Charles A. Taku

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The Abuja High Court ruling today, in favour of Sissuku & Co is a land mark precedent which puts to test the Independence of the Nigerian Judiciary against the Executive branch of Government.

I can say here without a blink of an eye that Sissuku & Co shall be ‘re extradited to Nigeria.
The Abuja ruling has triggered the imminent collapsed of the Trial at the Yaounde Military Tribunal.

Let’s look at the merits of the imminent collapsed of the Trial at the Yaounde Military Tribunal;

1) Jurisdiction; Because the defendants were transferred to Yaounde incommunicado, the Yaounde Military Tribunal has no jurisdiction to trial Sissuku & Co.
Yaounde will need to proof to a higher International Court what due process they followed to extradite the accused.
The Abuja Ruling has already indicted the Executive Arm of the Nigerian Government for violating the rights of Sissuku & Co. and for violating Nigerian Laws and The Nigerian Constitution.

2) UNHCR Docts The fact these same documents have been upheld by Abuja, Yaounde can’t turn around to say they are fake.
Both Cameroon and Nigeria are members of the U.N. and must respect the U.N. Conventions applicable in this case.

3) Nigeria’s International Reputation and Democratic Credentials; Nigeria is gunning to be a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. If Nigeria fails to uphold it’s own laws and Constitution how then will other African countries respect her. South Africa who is competing with Nigeria for the position in UNSC will be keeping a close look to exploit any false move from Nigeria.

4) Higher Courts If the Nigerian Government fails to enforce the Abuja High Court ruling then the case will simply move to higher courts (Nigerian Supreme Court) then to Banjul, then HRC (Human Rights Committee) etc.
But I don’t think we will get to Banjul HRC.
The Nigerian Judicial System will settle the matter.
There is no way Buhari can overide the Nigerian Courts.

Case Precedent

Abu Hamza Vs The UK Government.
In their quest to get Abu Hamza extradited to the US, the UK Government suffered continuous defeats at the British Courts for 9 years continuously. The case went all the way to the European Human Rights Courts.
Yes the UK is an advanced democracy as compared to Nigeria. However The Nigerian Government will have to proof to the International Community it can respect The Rule of Law especially it’s own laws as she Nigeria is gunning to be a Big Boy in the International Community.
Big Boys respect the Rule of Law, else the world will be a jungle and anarchy will prevail.

Albert Womah Mukong Vs Cameroon [Communication No 458/1991, UN Doct. CCPR/C/51/D/458/1991 (1994). Human Rights Session – Firty First Session.

After having been unlawfully detained in prison without any convicted crimes in a court of law, Albert Mukong upon release from prison sued the Government of Cameroon for unlawful imprisonment.
Mukong won his case at the Human Rights Committee (HRC) against the Government of Cameroon who were ordered to pay Mukong compensation. The Human Rights Committee (HRC) ruled that the Government of Cameroon couldn’t infringed upon the rights of Mukong upon the justification of safeguarding the Unity of the State of Cameroon. The Government of Cameroon respected the verdict and paid Nuking hundreds of millions Fcfa.

There is substantial case precedent to corroborate the arguments for Why Buhari and the Government of Nigeria will be obligated to uphold the ruling of the Abuja High Court.

Conclusion
I therefore conclude, Sissuku & Co shall be ‘re extradited from Yaounde to Abuja.
Upon arrival in Abuja they shall be set free and compensated financially for unlawful imprisonment.

The Rule of Law shall prevail over the Executive machinations of Buhari and Biya.

Author: Oswald Tebit

The Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria has ordered the Nigerian government to return the 12 Ambazonia leaders who were arrested and deported to Cameroon in January 2017.

The High Court ruled on Friday that Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe and the others should be rehabilitated and compensated five million Naira each.

The ruling came after a team led by Nigerian human rights lawyers Barrister Abdul Oroh and Femi Falana filed for their return.

In the second case against other 57 persons deported to Cameroon, the court ordered for their return to Nigeria and be compensated 200 thousand Naira each. Barrister Abdul Oroh has applied for certified copies of the ruling.

Last month, the Yaounde military court ruled the detained Ambazonia leaders were registered as refugees and asylum seekers in Nigeria after the defense counsel submitted their documents but ruled they will be judged in Cameroon.

This defense counsel has since protested and insist on filing an appeal for the detained to be returned to Nigeria.

Source: journalducameroun

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UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has learned with great concern of the forced return by Nigeria of 47 Cameroonians, who were handed over to the Cameroonian authorities on 26 January 2018.

Most of the individuals in question had submitted asylum claims. Their forcible return is in violation of the principle of non-refoulement, which constitutes the cornerstone of international refugee law.

The returns were carried out despite UNHCR’s efforts and engagement with the authorities.

UNHCR reminds Nigeria of its obligations under international and Nigerian law, and urges the Nigerian Government to refrain from forcible returns of Cameroonian asylum-seekers back to their country of origin.

We also urge the Government of Cameroon to ensure that the group is treated in accordance with human rights law and standards.

Source: unhcr.org

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The Central African country of Cameroon—whose tourist slogan for years was “all of Africa in one country”—presents itself as a unifier of diverse environments, languages, and culture in this nation located in the middle of the continent. The last weeks in Cameroon, however, suggest the worst of conflict, corruption, and colonialism, primarily relating to the country’s intensifying repression against the English-speaking minority in the region of Ambazonia, little-known even to Africanists and anti-colonial academics from the Global North. Despite the efforts of Ambazonian scholars based in the U.S., and a trickle of not-always-helpful information from Amnesty International and the BBC, the escalation of military violence over the past few months, and especially a new “scorched earth” burning of entire villages since last May and several massacres in the first half of July, have gone largely unnoticed even by human rights experts.

On the evening of July 11, 2018, five students were separated during a round-up by government military forces at the University Center in the town of Bambilli, allegedly for not having identification cards. Bambilli is a college town north in the Ambazonian territory. Though BBC reported on the incident, they did not make the connection to the pattern of attacks on Ambazonian students, activists, and community leaders which have worsened over the past year. Three days later, ten more unarmed Ambazonians and one Ghanaian pastor who was working with them were slaughtered in the town of Batibo.

Though this news may never have surfaced if not for the connection to clergy in Ghana, organizations such as the Network for Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa have begun to analyze, document, and report on these incidents. Several Pan-African groups, including affiliates of the prominent Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (which share a collegial relationship with the Pan African Nonviolence and Peace-building Network), have raised growing concerns about military-perpetrated, government-instigated violence in the area which makes up the southern border of Cameroon and Nigeria.

Nonviolence has always been the strategy and philosophy of choice there, with the decades-long freedom slogan focusing on the logic of Ambazonia freedom, by “the force of argument, not the argument of force.” In1961, the United Nations Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons voted for full independence from colonial Great Britain, and neighboring Francophone Cameroon quickly incorporated the territory into its own “United Republic” of Cameroon. Since that time, a mass, unarmed civil resistance movement has declared its desire for full independence, given its distinct languages (English and Indigenous African), culture, history, and geographic base. In 1984, when Cameroon President Paul Biya removed the “United” from the official name of the country, an even more intense crisis ensued. “All this time, however, from the 1960s until 2017,” noted Eben, U.S. facilitator of the Ambazonian Prisoners of Conscience Support Network, “barely a single stone was thrown as part of our resistance. Armed resistance was never a tactic we engaged in.

Following a series of lawyer-led uprisings which began on October 1, 2016, escalating nonviolent civil resistance, and a massive general strike in September 2017—met with gunfire from Cameroon government helicopter gunships—some Ambazonians did initiate an armed struggle on October 1, 2017, declaring independence and setting up a government in exile. Cooperation between the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon might play a negative role in the aspirations of Ambazonians, as Nigeria handed over some who were taking refuge there, and who now make up a growing political-prisoner population in Cameroon.

Nigeria’s inability to resolve their “Boko Haram problem”—the Islamist fundamentalist-military movement with close ties to Iraq—also plays a role. Nigeria can push Boko Haram forces across the border into Cameroon, and Cameroon in turn attacks both Boko Haram military units and Ambazonian independence activists as if they represented the same “nuisance” to the common people. It is the ordinary civilian, however, who is most caught between governments, militaries, and borders. A horrifying video of Cameroon soldiers murdering two women, a young child, and a baby—apparently in mid-July and because their families allegedly had ties to Boko Haram—has begun to go viral and gain the condemnation of Amnesty International. In an eerie flash-back to words uttered fifty years ago in Vietnam at the heinous My Lai massacre, one soldier can be heard asking his commanding officer: “Are we going to kill the children too?”

Ironically, Amnesty—widely seen as the unquestioned expert on human rights in the region—has been slow and significantly misguided in reporting the facts of events in the region. An incredibly detailed and well-documented critique of the June 2018 Amnesty International report on “Anglophone Cameroon” spotlights ways in which the respected organization has misunderstood and distorted the reality of Ambazonian life and struggle. The popular refrain that there “is violence on both sides” not only gives too much emphasis to a very limited armed struggle, dismissing the decades of previous history, it also ignores the fact that the last two years have seen a sharp increase in the breadth and scope of nonviolent civic engagement on the part of Ambazonians, both in the territory and in diaspora. An entire network of home-front media producers has congealed around a Southern Cameroon TV project, dozens of diaspora organizations have formed and successfully pressed for attention from local and national politicians, the Southern Cameroons Congress of the People was formed as a political party, and a veritable social media army has begun to link refugees, political prisoners and their supporters, home front organizers, and those living abroad.

Independent internationalists might be especially confused by the July 19, 2018 briefings and commentaries issued by Human Rights Watch (HRW). On the one hand, their poignant report “These Killings Can Be Stopped” recounts in 59 detailed pages how the area “is slipping into a protracted human rights crisis in the largely Anglophone North-West and South-West regions that border Nigeria.” It documents how, for the past two years or so, the Cameroon government has responded to demonstrations, legal challenges, and unarmed protests with “heavy clamp-downs,” “repression and arrest,” and “abuse” which likely caused a radicalization on the part of the Ambazonian freedom movement.

On the other hand, in HRW’s summary press release sent out the same day, “Cameroon: Killings, Destruction in Anglophone Region,” they misleadingly and inaccurately assert that “in response to protests and violence by armed separatists, government forces have killed civilians, used excessive force against demonstrators, tortured and mistreated suspected separatists and detainees, and burned hundreds of homes in several villages.” Want to find evidence that the HRW summary press release is inaccurate? Read the HRW full report! The poor attempt to be “even-handed” tragically dilutes HRW’s basic good point: these killings can and must be stopped—by support for justice-seeking nonviolent campaigners and a condemnation of government-based military violence and oppression.

The crisis in Ambazonia—like so many anti-colonial crises that seem to be escalating in this age of neocolonialism—cannot easily be resolved, especially by traditional military or diplomatic means. As grassroots women’s and social groups inside the country and supporters or allies in the Diaspora continue to put pressure on the colonial regime, unarmed civil resistance is the best hope for lasting change. But change cannot take place without clear, pro-justice, international attention and support—which so far has been sadly lacking.

Source: forusa.org

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Ongoing violence in the Southwest and Northwest Regions of Cameroon continues.  A refugee crisis threatens. The United Nations (UN) refugee agency reported more than 32 000 Cameroonians crossed into Nigeria as refugees. The Daily Vox team takes a closer look.

Cameroon Refugee Crisis

The United Nations and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have reported that intensified violence has led displacement.  There has been a displacement of more than 437 500 people within Cameroon.  More people fled into Nigeria where they are staying in refugee camps in Cross River State.

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) built a refugee settlement in August 2018. By December 2018 it held more than 6 400 refugees.

In a report compiled by MSF, they spoke to refugees in the camp. Lydia Ochin from Akwaya, Cameroon said: “I escaped from my country in October 2017. I have lived with my family, my husband, and my children, in Adagom refugee camp since August 2018. Life in the camp is not easy. I live here with my husband, who is sick with tuberculosis, and my children. Eight people living inside a small tent. Now that my health is getting better, the biggest challenge is food. We do not have money to buy food on our own and all we eat is the rice that is given to us.”

In the area, the MSF Cross River project operates six mobile clinics for the host and refugee community. The organisation dug boreholes and repaired handpumps to provide water for the communities.

Civil society response

In February 2019, faith and civil society organisations like the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Denis Hurley Peace Institute will deliver a letter to the 40th session of the UNHCR. The letter demands UN members states investigate allegations of human rights violations in Ambazonia. At the same when the letter is delivered to the UN, press briefings are to be held in Geneva, New York, and Johannesburg.

There are daily reports on social media about alleged violence in the region. “The UN HRC has the power to cultivate the conditions for peace,” said the Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. “We strongly believe that a UN HRC-mandated fact-finding mission would have the immediate effect of quelling violence and saving lives.”

What has been happening

Conflict in Cameroon stemming from the calls for independence in South Cameroons began in 2016. The people of Southern Cameroon (Ambazonia) have demanded the right to determine whether they want to remain in a union with Cameroon or restore the independence of Southern Cameroons as a sovereign state.

Those calls led to a violent crackdown by President Paul Biya’s Francophone government on the Anglophone population of Southern Cameroon. In 2017 there was an internet shutdown to prevent mass mobilisations against the government and many people were killed by the security forces during protests. There were arbitrary arrests with people detained in already overflowing jails.

Biya won his seventh term in October 2018. The elections were marred by low turnout, especially in the Anglophone zones. He has been in power since 1982. The constitution was changed in 2008 which removed term limits which would allow him to rule for even longer.

During a 2017 march by the Southern Cameroons community living in South Africa, Milton Taka, a spokesperson for the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front said: “Only the Ambazonian flag will fly all over our land. Our people are taking their power back. From today we declare self-rule. Self-determination is an inalienable right and nobody will take that from us.”

Increased humanitarian crisis

There have been all around calls for an increase in attention for Cameroon. Both the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to Cameroon, Ms. Allegra Baiocchi, and Cameroon’s Civil Protection Director, Ms. Yap Mariatou warned about the increased need for humanitarian assistance due to the Francophone-Anglophone conflict.

“Cameroon today can no longer be a forgotten crisis; it needs to be high on the United Nations agenda” Mariatou said. The UN estimates that around 4.3 million people in Cameroon requires lifesaving assistance. This is one in six people and mostly women and children.

Refugee crisis: Nigeria

There has been a cross fleeing of people. Nigerian people fleeing to Cameroon from the northern Borno state it’s been reported in January 2019. They are fleeing increasing Boko Haram militant attacks.  Reportedly there was a displacement of 30 000 people after a deadly attack that happened on January 14. There have been calls for the Cameroonian government to accept the refugees into the country. This all happens against the backdrop of the violence the Cameroonian government in enacting against its Anglophone-speaking citizens.

Author: Fatima Moosa

Source: thedailyvox.co.za

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The Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria will pass a ruling on April 15 in the matter filed by lawyers against what the term illegal deportation of the Ambazonia leaders from Nigeria to Cameroon.

The court finally opened hearing in Abuja today which was an opportunity for lawyers to presnt their case as they insist the leaders were illegally arrested and deported to Cameroon.

The lawyers told the court that for justice to take its course, the Ambazonia leaders have to be returned to Nigeria where they were arrested given the fact that both countries don’t have any extradition treaty.

But before April, the Ambazonia leaders will have to prove their nationality at the Yaounde military tribunal on February 7.

Source: journalducameroun

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