250 DAYS TOO LONG: Free Julius AyukTabe and All Ambazonian Prisoners of Conscience

250 DAYS TOO LONG: Free Julius AyukTabe and All Ambazonian Prisoners of Conscience

It has been 250 days since the Nigerian secret service seized Julius AyukTabe, known for his nonviolent leadership of the movement for the rights of the people of Ambazonia (Southern Cameroons), and 11 of his senior aides. Nigeria then forcibly handed them over to Cameroon in violation of non-refoulement, a fundamental principle of international law which forbids a country receiving asylum seekers from returning them to a country in which they would be in likely danger of persecution.

In June 2018, under scrutiny from the international community, the government of Cameroon allowed Julius and his aides to see a lawyer, who then documented the circumstances of their illegal arrest and are now demanding their immediate release based on the writ of habeas corpus. Please tell the Cameroon and Nigerian governments that they must respect human rights and release these imprisoned leaders immediately!

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UPDATE: Letter to Progressive Legal Workers

BACKGROUND:

On January 5, 2018, the Nigerian secret service seized Julius AyukTabe, known for his nonviolent leadership of the movement for the rights of the people of Ambazonia (Southern Cameroons), and 11 of his senior aides at the Nera Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria. The group had gathered to plan a meeting with the UNHCR to discuss the plight of thousands of Ambazonian refugees, who have crossed the border fleeing violence at the hands of the French Cameroon military.

Then, on January 26, 2018 — with no extradition treaty between Cameroon and Nigeria, and without the involvement of a judge — Nigeria forcibly handed 10 of the prisoners along with 37 other refugees to Cameroon in violation of non-refoulement, a fundamental principle of international law which forbids a country receiving asylum seekers from returning them to a country in which they would be in likely danger of persecution. This action drew condemnation from Amnesty International, the UNHCR, the United States Department of State, and other leading human rights advocates. Four weeks later Nigeria released Barrister Nalowa Bih and Dr. Ojong Okongho, two of the 11 individuals arrested along with AyukTabe.

In June 2018, under scrutiny from the international community, the government of Cameroon allowed AyukTabe and his aides to see a team of lawyers of their own choosing, who then documented the circumstances of their illegal arrest and submitted a habeas corpus petition demanding their immediate release. In response to this petition, the Cameroon government imposed a team of lawyers of the regime’s choosing on the prisoners, held a hearing in response to the petition without bringing them to court as is strictly required by the law, and dismissed the petition out of hand.

AyukTabe’s lawyers are not backing down and have appealed the dismissal. The Cameroon regime is guilty of holding these leaders illegally for 250 days and counting! All ten of them must be released immediately and without condition. Their names are:

Mr. Julius AyukTabe — American University of Nigeria in Yola, North Eastern Nigeria
Mr. Wilfred Tassang — organizer with the Ambazonia teachers Union, CAPTAC
Professor Augustine Awasum — Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Northern Nigeria
Dr. Cornelius Njikimpi Kwanga — Umaru Musa Yar’adua University in Katsina, Nigeria
Dr. Henry Kimeng — Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
Dr. Fidelis Ndeh-Che — American University of Nigeria in Yola, North Eastern Nigeria
Dr. Egbe Ogork — Associate Professor, Bayero University in Kano
Barrister Shufai Berinyuy — Organizer with the Ambazonia Legal workers Union
Barrister Eyambe Elias — Organizer with the Ambazonia Legal workers Union
Dr. Nfor Ngalla Nfor — Ambazonia Civil Society leader