Cameroonian refugees protest deportation of separatist leaders, demand N68m

Cameroonian refugees protest deportation of separatist leaders, demand N68m

Refugees from the English speaking part of Cameroon (also known as Southern Cameroon), on Tuesday, protested against the refusal of the Federal Government to implement the judgment of Justice Anwuli Chikere of a Federal High Court in Abuja, which ordered the reversal of the deportation of 10 separatist leaders, who had applied for asylum in Nigeria.

The judgment, according to them, was secured by a team of Nigerian lawyers led by a human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN).

The refugees made the demand during a protest in Abuja to commemorate the four-year anniversary of the arrest and extradition of over 49 of their leaders and others.

The leaders were said to have been arrested by security agencies at a hotel in the Jabi area of Abuja and other cities in Nigeria.

Those arrested included the Assistant Vice-President, Marketing and Recruitment, American University of Nigeria, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe; Assistant Professor of Computing and Director, Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness and Vice Chair of the Institutional Review Board of AUN, Dr Fidelis Ndeh-Che; Head, Surgery Unit, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof Augustine Awasum; and Associate Professor of Geology, ABU, Dr Henry Kimeng.

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Others were a senior lecturer in the Department of Economics, Yar’Adua University, Dr Cornelius Kwanga; Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Bayero University, Kano, Dr Egbe Ogork; activist and leader of the Teachers’ Union and the Federation of Parent Teachers Union, Wilfred Tassang; human rights lawyers, Shufai Berinyuy and Eyambe Elias; and civil society leader, Dr Nfor Ngalla Nfor.

Justice Chikere had in her judgment held that the forced deportation of the Cameroonians was illegal and unconstitutional.

She held that irrespective of whether they posed a threat to the Nigerian state or not, the Federal Government did not follow due process and thus violated both the Nigerian constitution and articles 32 and 33 of the UN Convention relating to the status of refugees.

While ordering their return to Nigeria, Justice Chikere also ordered the government to pay N67.8m in compensation to the deportees.

Speaking with journalists during the commemoration rally on Tuesday, the President, Association of Southern Cameroon Refugees in Nigeria, Ernest Cho, decried the non-implementation of the court judgment.

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According to him, by obeying the court ruling and repatriating the 10 leaders, who are seen by their followers as legitimate brokers of peace in any dialogue process, there are chances that the government will set a new course towards stability in the troubled Southern Cameroon.

Cho said, “Let me use this opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government to please respect the March 1, 2019 decision of a Federal High Court in Abuja and immediately return the AUN Vice-President, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, and his colleagues to their families and students.

“On this sombre anniversary, we demand that the Nigerian government implements the judgment. The decision of the court, if obeyed, could kick-start a national reconciliation process and help resolve the raging conflict in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.”

The Secretary of the ASCRN, Eric Febsar, called on human rights supporters worldwide to take action to demand the immediate rectification of what he described as “travesty of justice” in the case of the 10 Ambazonian leaders.

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He said such redress would help to mitigate the brewing humanitarian crisis posed by the influx of asylum-seeking Ambazonians into Nigeria.

“Presently, there are over 70,000 Cameroonian refugees registered with the UNCHR in Nigeria, and tens of thousands more are been pushed across the border in Cross River, Taraba, Benue and Adamawa states by the raging conflict in the English-speaking regions,” Febsar added.

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