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Where Are the 47 Political Exiles Sent by Nigeria to Cameroun?

 

 

 

 

 

 

“…it is necessary to verify the whereabouts and safety of these 47 individuals, and to guarantee them access to redress. Pending these steps, the United Nations organs should reaffirm the inviolability of the principle of non-refoulment and require Nigeria — a country with tens of thousands of refugees of its own — to provide verifiable guarantees that it is prepared to comply with this vital international principle.”

Over the past few months, thousands of refugees from Cameroon have fled across the country’s western border into Nigeria, escaping an increasingly vicious conflict that has been largely unnoticed outside the region. Hundreds of civilians have been killed; many more have been tortured, disappeared, or taken into custody by forces loyal to Paul Biya, the president of Cameroun — who is currently the longest-serving leader in Africa today, having held power for 35 years.

The trouble started when teachers and lawyers in the Cameroun’s minority Anglophone regions — who complained of being marginalized by the country’s Francophone majority — launched a mass protest. These complaints soon turned into more militant demands for greater self-determination, then became a secessionist demand for the creation of an independent (and Anglophone) state of “Ambazonia.”

Nigeria itself has reacted to the trouble by appealing for international aid to support the influx of refugees, and by showing itself ready to support its neighbor against the secessionist threat.

Unfortunately, that support has included a readiness to breach international law. In late January, the Nigerian government rounded up a group of 47 Camerounese opposition members and sent them back to Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital. This was done despite the opposition members’ status as asylum seekers and refugees.

Four of the 47 expelled had Nigerian nationality. Cameroun does not presently allow dual nationality and Nigerian law prohibits the expulsion of its nationals. By expelling these four, in other words, Nigeria effectively rendered them stateless — in violation of clear international law.

The group included Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, leader of the self-proclaimed interim government of Ambazonia — who, along with his supporters, was denounced as a terrorist by the Biya government. On January 17, 2018, he and many of the other 46 persons were attending a meeting in a hotel in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. They were abducted and detained, without charges and in secret, by hooded agents of Nigeria’s State Security Service. They were not allowed to see a lawyer or their families. Nine days later, without a court order or a thought to how they’d be treated upon arrival, Nigeria expelled the oppositionists to Cameroon.

On arrival in Yaoundé, the government of Cameroon — in secret — took the 47 into custody. On January 29, 2018, a spokesman for Cameroun confirmed that the government had custody of the group. Nothing further was heard until April 9, when Cameroun’s information minister said, “All of them are doing very well, all of them are in very good health, all of them are enjoying whatever is enshrined in our constitution.”

But since neither their families nor legal representatives have been allowed access to these people, there is no way to verify the truth of the government’s claim. For all practical purposes, they have disappeared.

Four of the 47 expelled had Nigerian nationality. Cameroun does not presently allow dual nationality and Nigerian law prohibits the expulsion of its nationals. By expelling these four, in other words, Nigeria effectively rendered them stateless — in violation of clear international law.

It is also necessary to hold Cameroun to account for the numerous human rights violations committed in the course of the Anglophone crisis, including for the enforced disappearance of the 47 persons sent back by Nigeria, as well as the continuing heavy-handed way that security operations in the Anglophone regions are conducted.

Nigeria’s conduct is also an assault on the very foundations of international refugee and human rights law. The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, to which Nigeria is a leading party, prohibits the forced return — or “refoulment” — of a refugee “in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

But the responses of regional human rights institutions of the African Union, as well as of the United Nations High Commissioners for Human Rights and for Refugees, have so far been muted. This is a mistake; if only to avoid exacerbating other crises in Africa, these institutions should be more visible and active in defense of basic rights.
Regardless, it is necessary to verify the whereabouts and safety of these 47 individuals, and to guarantee them access to redress. Pending these steps, the United Nations organs should reaffirm the inviolability of the principle of non-refoulment and require Nigeria — a country with tens of thousands of refugees of its own — to provide verifiable guarantees that it is prepared to comply with this vital international principle.

It is also necessary to hold Cameroun to account for the numerous human rights violations committed in the course of the Anglophone crisis, including for the enforced disappearance of the 47 persons sent back by Nigeria, as well as the continuing heavy-handed way that security operations in the Anglophone regions are conducted.

Chidi Odinkalu is senior team manager for the Africa Programme of the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), while Tem Fuh Mbuh works on the international human rights litigation and access to justice programme of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

By Chidi Odinkalu & Tem Fuh Mbuh
Originally published in Open Society Foundations’ ‘Voices’.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. George

    April 27, 2018 at 2:28 PM

    The kidnapping and expulsion of Sisiku, Pa Tassang and all those other intellectuals was a very big mistake by the Buhari administration. It was shortsighted and fueled that crisis. The IG never preached violence. Instead they pushed for a diplomatic solution.

    Activists like Penn Terence and Mancho Bibixi used peaceful protest. The regime instead of appeasement applies draconian punishment on them. What is with the Mamfe SDO? What is with Ekema Coconuthead Patrick? What is with those police men from the Buea campus? They are all free. Nothing will happen. You can kill an unarmed protester and nothing will happen. Does the regime realizes that with this injustice they even more increase the rift between the Southern Cameroonians and citizen of la Republique?

    • Shillah

      April 27, 2018 at 8:51 PM

      Who cares abt the rift. U ambazozo look for it n now u have it. From 7 points negociations u guys move to 12 then 17. What where u thinking, oh l forgot that u corner the government n they will give in to whatever blackmail u ambaidiots will bring? Hell no. Now it’s only time for the army to kill u all. Starting wit terrorist baraliar fucking mother. We will hunt u all n ur family back home pian

  2. Malis

    April 27, 2018 at 3:16 PM

    All the calculations of the colonial, slave master and terrorist government of LRC failed and back fired, they don’t know what to do anymore.

    The struggle continues till the day we Ambazonians take Ambazonia from who ever is claiming it to be theirs, back to us.

    Long Live Our Leaders.

  3. Jojo

    April 27, 2018 at 3:37 PM

    @ Chidi Odinkalu & Tem Fuh Mbuh, to whom and why are you asking all these questions of the where about of your IG? You have been giving a chance to seat down for a dialogue and you refused.
    For your information, international laws on refugees or citizenship only apply in peace time. We are at war and your IG are the main actors of this war.
    The United States didn’t need the Saudi Arabia or the Pakistani’s approval to get Ben Laden. Please save your energy with all the nonsences. By the way your 47 IGs are still alive, but in foreign soil. Dialogue, Dialogue and Dialogue is all we need.

  4. Saa

    April 27, 2018 at 6:16 PM

    ‘jojo’ the joker.The bami sellout.
    All francophone people in Ambaland must be forced out of our territory. They are sellouts living among our people.
    If the la republic scouts can murder many of our innocent Amba people, why can’t we do same to those frenchee niggas in our territory.

    • Shillah

      April 27, 2018 at 8:59 PM

      What r u waiting for saa not just talk. U guys have been singing that song for a while now n still no lrc citizens has not had a scratch. But u guys r busy killing each other. God forbid the day where just one lrc citizen is hurt that day u ambaidiots will know wat killing is abt.

      • Saa

        April 28, 2018 at 7:04 AM

        Fuck you child of a prostotute called shillah, You bassa/Bami sellouts living in our territory, we will be coming after your stinking families parasiting in Ambaland. You frenchee niggas who know nothing but sucking your white French masters ‘s asses. No wonder why your thinking faculties are messed up.

    • Jojo

      April 27, 2018 at 10:20 PM

      @Saa, so you are advocating and encouraging people to chase out Francophones in NW/SW? Do you have a fight with the government or with all Francophones?
      Like what I predicted before, blood is already entering your heads and you people are becoming more barbaric than LRC.
      Let it be known that if we engage LRC in any full scale war, I promise you that only a very few living abroad would be alive to see Buea if you’re lucky. The reality on the ground is that you are loosing and destabilise big time. Stop all the propaganda, any mistake on your part an entire generation will be wiped out.
      Most of you commenting here are not yet victims of this war.

  5. Saa

    April 27, 2018 at 6:18 PM

    OUR LEADERS HAD BEEN MURDERED BY LA REPUBLIC. NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT. THEY HAVE NOTHING TO SHOW.IT IS WHY THEY ARE PLAYING ALL THIS GAME.

  6. Saa

    April 27, 2018 at 6:20 PM

    OUR LEADERS HAVE BEEN MURDERED.

    • homeboy

      April 27, 2018 at 6:37 PM

      how many children have your leaders murdered?

      • George

        April 27, 2018 at 6:53 PM

        homeboy you can be described with one word “moron”. Our leaders haven’t murdered any child. But I just saw some pictures showing your BIR torturing and killing an unarmed civilian. Other unarmed civilians were forced to watch it while one BIR man shot a bullet through the anus of this innocent man. Do you think we will tolerate such acts of barbarism? Do you think we came into this union to be treated like this? Our self defense forces will take out any intruder. One by one. The “tactical retreat” will be a retreat forever.

        • homeboy

          April 27, 2018 at 7:58 PM

          your leaders are sponsoring terrorists to kill innocent civilians and even cut off hands of those going to school, example a kid’s hand was chopped off a few days in Belo by your amba political defence groups. Is that not killing? Do you think calling me ‘moron’ makes me believe what you write? You have relatives in Cameroon, they will pay for your crimes as your god’s father mother mark is paying now.

          • George

            April 27, 2018 at 8:14 PM

            You want to thread me??? LOL
            In Belo your army did unbelievable crimes against humanity. They shot people point blank. Dozens of underaged girls were raped. And you want to continue living with us? The incident with the chopped hand was in Kumba. And that was not done by restoration forces. Please check your sources.

            My crime and the crime of millions of Southern Cameroonians is to fight for our freedom and against the injustice. If this is a crime for you French Camerounian call me and the other millions of Ambazonians criminals. Why not dogs or rats like that idiot Okalia Bilai?

          • Saa

            April 27, 2018 at 9:48 PM

            You this stupid man who call yourself ‘homeboy’ you must be one of those bami, bassa leaches whose sellout parents are living in Amba territory. We will soon start going after all of you, after all your criminal la republic regime have been murdering our innocent people.

          • Janice Beyongsi

            April 28, 2018 at 5:38 PM

            tel;l these motherfuckers my brother.ugly kibarinko masqurerade faced masquerade MARK BARA WIRKI SHIT NTUM COFEE BANG FEN AINT SEEN SHIT YET.THE BLOOD OF THE INOCENT PEOPLE THEY HAVE SENT TO THEIR GRAVES WITH THEIR IRRESPONSIBLITY WILL HAUNT THE.

        • Shillah

          April 28, 2018 at 11:11 AM

          U George will not stop amusing me. Has lrc told u that the retreated? Is there any bbc African correspondent in Belo or BBC is just relaying on one of those story told by ambazozo hit n run cowards? There is no retreat in Belo. As for saa he is just an idiots. I’m still await a reports of a lrc citizen hurt by this fools ambazozo. But so far there is none cz they know very well wat will happen if such act is taken.

      • Saa

        April 27, 2018 at 9:40 PM

        Stupid la republic agent, your criminal banana republic of french cameroun will no longer have the chance to be stealing Ambazonia natural resources anymore. Our territory remain and will stay ungovernable by you frenchee niggas directed by your white french masters. You sick group of people with french messed up brains.
        ULTIMATE GOAL, run down the Victoeia refinary and the french cameroun banana republic will become like the pathetic french colonies of chad, mali and the rest.

        • homeboy

          April 27, 2018 at 9:56 PM

          anyone that has a different opinion is an agent to LRC, what makes you think so? How many of your family members have sacrificed their lives for this hijacked struggle? If you have any family member in Cameroon, he or she will also be hunted to pay for your crimes, the same applies to george.

          • George

            April 27, 2018 at 10:03 PM

            Hahahaha. An asylum seeker want to thread us? Homeboy you are a clown. We laugh about you nonentity. Hahahaha

  7. saa

    April 28, 2018 at 8:21 AM

    TAKE THE FIGHT ACROSS THE MUNGO INTO LA REPUBLIC. SABOTAGE SOFT TARGETS. IIL PIPELINES FROM VITORIA TO DOUALA. SMUGGLE HAND BOMBS INTO DOUALA AND EXPLODE FRENCH RUN COMPANIES.
    DEFENCE OF OUR PEOPLE FROM THIS GANGSTER REGIME IS OK BUT NOT SUFFICIENT.WE MUST LOOK FOR CREATIVE WAYS TO MAKE THE PEOPLE ACROSS THE MUNGO FEEL THIS SHIT. TARHET THE EXPLOSION OR DESTRUCTION OF THE VICTORIA SONARA LAB/OFFICE.

    • Shillah

      April 28, 2018 at 11:24 AM

      Stupid Saw just don’t give recommendations come urself on the ground to implement ur ideas if u r a man. Don’t sent others children for a suicide mission while hiding behind ur keyboard. Coward. Wait to hear abt ur family soon. Just ask clown baraliar abt his mother. It’s just the beginning. Where is cucu blinzk 😂😂😂😂 tell her not to be scare n keep posting videos. Frederiksberg here we come

  8. Janice Beyongsi

    April 28, 2018 at 5:48 PM

    BREAKING NEWS! AMABAZONIA PRESIDENT HIS EXCELLENCY CHIEF DOCTOR SESEKOU AYUK AND ALL THOSE SCOPPED UP IN NIGERIA WITH HIM HAVE BROKEN OUT OF JAIL WITH THE SUPREME ORACLE OF THE FORST CALLED ODESHI!HE IS NOW CONFIDENTLY INSTALLED IN THE PRIMINSTER’S LODGE BUEA.AN EXECUTIVE ORDER HAS BEEN ISSUED TO ALL THOSE WHO SUSTAINED BROKEN LIMBS TO REPORT TO EVERY TOWN COUNCIL AND COLLECT HEALTH GRANTS.ALL KIDS WHO WERE BARRED FROM ATTNDING SCHOOL BY THE INTERIM PUTATIVE GOVERNEMTNSHOULD LINE UP AND BE REWARD WHEREEVER THEY ARE FOR AMBAZONIA IS FLOWING WITH EXCESS MONEY.ALL RANSOMS EXTORTED FROM INNOCNET PEOPLE AND OTPR. LEKE TAMBO WILL BE REFUNDED TENFOLD.THE UNITED NATIONS HAS RECOGNIZED AMABAZONIA .THE UNITED KINGDOM HAS ADDED OUR NAMES TO PATENMTS MAKING AMBAZONIA THE MOST DEVELOPPED NATION IN AFRICA WITH RIGHTS PLANES ,DRINKING WATER,, DEVELOPEMNT ETC.LONG LIVE AMABZAONIA THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY.LONG JULIUS AYUK AND TASANG ETC WHO NOW SIT COMFORTABLY IN THE PM’S LODGE BUEA.LONG LIVE THE POWER OF ODESHI.OH OUR ODESHI.

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