Arrested Anglophone leaders at risk of unfair trial and torture if deported from Nigeria – Amnesty International
Amnesty International has asked the Federal Government of Nigeria, to immediately release the arrested leaders of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia or charge them to court as prescribed by Nigerian laws. This is contained in a statement issued in Abuja today, by the Director of the Nigerian chapter of the human right body, Osai Ojigho.
“By holding these activists in secret, without charge, the Nigerian authorities are failing to respect both national and international law. If they are extradited to Cameroon, they risk an unfair trial before a military court and the deeply disturbing possibility of torture”
Efforts to tackle the Anglophone crisis should always respect the law, and avoid restricting freedom of expression. Authorities in Nigeria should immediately disclose the activists’ whereabouts, allow them access to a lawyer, and unless they have sufficient evidence to charge them with a recognizable crime, release them immediately” said Osai.
The President of the interim government of Ambazonia, Sissiku Ayuk-Tabe and eleven of his collaborators were on the 5th January, 2018, abducted by armed men in plain clothes. The unknown gun men, believed to be members of the Nigerian security, in connivance with Yaoundé, stormed Nera hotel in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, where the leaders were meeting, and abducted them without presenting a warrant or providing explanations for their supposed arrest.
President Sissiku Ayuk-Tabe and his team were meeting to discuss the influx of thousands of asylum seekers, following the post October 1st 2017 crackdown by the colonial forces of La Republique du Cameroun (LRC) that has seen the massacre of more than 400 Ambazonians, with thousands missing and imprisoned.
It is almost a week today since the criminal incident took place and the leaders are still being held incommunicado, without any access to a lawyer, in contravention of Nigerian law which requires that they be seen by a judge within 48 hours. According to Amnesty International, Human rights lawyers in Nigeria have confirmed an extradition request by the colonial government of LRC, but no details have been made public.
Amnesty International notes that; “All those arrested were legally living in Nigeria, and some had been granted political asylum. Under Nigerian law, it would be illegal to extradite the activists for political crimes, or if they faced the risk of torture or an unfair trial”.
“In Cameroon, those charged with crimes related to national security are prosecuted by military courts without respect for due process, and Amnesty International has documented a widespread pattern of torture by security forces and intelligence agencies” they added.
The warning from, and call by Amnesty international, comes to strengthen the many calls and warnings already issued by prominent human rights lawyers in Nigeria, and the African Bar Council. At this juncture, LRC and her proxies, who had sang hallelujah after the abduction of the leaders; and had even announced their eminent arrival in Yaoundé, should be leaking their wounds. There are increasingly bleak chances of them ever laying hands on their political preys – Sissiku Ayuk-Tabe and co.
In addition, Professor Godfrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s foreign minister, has said the leaders where neither arrested nor abducted. If so, then, it is high time Ambazonians forgot about worrying whether they will be extradited to LRC or not. Ambalanders must start asking questions on why Nigeria continue to keep them incommunicado. Is some mafia or dialogue under duress ongoing with colonial agents without the knowledge of people and other?
James Agbor, BaretaNews Political Analyst