Southern Cameroonians protest Nigeria’s repatriation of 49 asylum-seeking refugees


Refugees from the English speaking 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 a reversal of the forced deportation of 10 separatist leaders who had applied for asylum in Nigeria.

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

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

They were said to have been arrested by security agencies at the Nera Hotel in the Jabi area of Abuja and other cities in Nigeria.

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

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 Unions and the Federation of Parent Teachers Union, Wilfred Tassang; human rights lawyer, Shufai Berinyuy; human rights lawyer, 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 ruled that the government should pay compensation of ₦67.8 million to the deportees.

Speaking with journalists during the commemoration rally, the President of the Association of Southern Cameroon Refugees in Nigeria, Ernest Cho, decried the non-implementation of the Court judgement.

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

Also speaking, the Secretary of 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.

He said such redress would help to mitigate the brewing humanitarian crisis posed by the influx of asylum-seeking Ambazonians in 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,” he said.


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