Starting last Saturday, the wives of the ‘Nera 10” launched a series of decentralized global actions to the mark the 1-year anniversary of their husbands’ illegal kidnapping from the Nera Hotel in Nigeria. They are calling for the immediate release of their husbands and of all Ambazonian prisoners of conscience being held by the Cameroon regime. The activists’ next court date is January 10, 2019. #Justice4NERA10
January 5, 2019, marked one year since the illegal abduction by Nigerian secret service of Julius AyukTabe, known for his nonviolent leadership of the movement for the rights of the people of Ambazonia (Southern Cameroons), and his senior aides at the Nera Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria. These “Nera 10” had gathered to coordinate relief efforts for the tens of thousands of Ambazonian refugees who have crossed the border fleeing violence at the hands of the French Cameroon military. They were subsequently handed over to Cameroon, along with 37 other refugees, where they have been imprisoned ever since.
Two other activists who were arrested along with the 10 were released before being handed over to Cameroon. Recently one of them released her first public statement about her experience: Nalowa’s Story | TESTIMONY TIME! Lady Narrates Her Ordeal After Being Kidnapped in Abuja
Both the arrest in Nigeria, and the forcible return to Cameroon, violated multiple human and civil rights:
* The abductors did not identify themselves and did not provide any warrant or reason for their arrest
* The return to Cameroon was 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.
* The prisoners were held incommunicado and were not allowed access to a lawyer for months on end. At writing, 37 of the 47 asylum-seekers have still not been allowed to see a lawyer. The “Nera 10” were allowed limited access to lawyers and family only after a relentless advocacy campaign.
* They were not charged with any crime in a reasonable time frame. The Nera 10 were charged only after their lawyers filed a Habeas Corpus petition demanding their immediate release based on the above violations.
* They are being tried in a military court, though they are civilians.
Many who have already called the Cameroon regime to account for these actions, including Amnesty Nigeria, the UN Human Rights Council, the US State Department; ten US Senators in a December 7, 2018, letter; the US Ambassador to Cameroon, Prof. Patrice Nganang, to name just a few.
In June, supporters were successful in obtaining access to lawyers for the Nera 10. On August 9, the legal team submitted a Habeas Corpus petition which was toyed with by the Cameroon regime before being dismissed without explanation in November. Following this dismissal, charges were issued after 10 months of detention without charges. It is for these charges that the 10 will appear before court tomorrow.
THE “NERA 10” :
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
1- Translation of August 9, 2018, Habeas Petition: https://ambazoniapocs.net/sites/default/files/HabeasPetition-Translation...
2- Amnesty Nigeria Statement on the violation of non-refoulement with regards to Ambazonians Community leaders seized in Nigeria and illegality refouled to Cameroon (12 January 2018)
3- UNHCR condemns forced returns of Cameroon asylum-seekers from Nigeria (01 February 2018)
4- US State Department Statement on the violation of non-refoulement with regards to Ambazonians Community leaders seized in Nigeria and illegality refouled to Cameroon (5 February 2018)
5- Letter to Michael Pompeo, Secretary of State, December 7, 2018: https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/12-7-18%20Cameroon%20over...
6- Briefing to the UN Security Council by the US Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, December 13, 2018: https://usun.state.gov/remarks/8845
7- Prof. Patrice Nganang calls on Paul Biya to release all Anglophones from jail: https://youtu.be/LQtwVV3Awx8
PHOTO: from South Africa Protest, January 9, 2019