Lawyers to the 10 Southern Cameroonian leaders agitating for the creation of the Republic of Ambazonia have called on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to order an investigation into their arrest by the State Security (SSS).
The call was made in a letter to the IGP by Femi Falana Chambers. In the letter signed by Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), the lawyers maintained that the agitators are not illegal immigrants in Nigeria, as some of them have been granted political asylum by the Federal Government while others have valid permanent resident status in Nigeria.
The only exception is Professor Augustine Awasom, who is a United States citizen. In addition to Professor Awasom, those arrested are Mr. Julius Ayuk Tabe, Mr. Wilfred Tassang, Dr. Nfor Ngala Nfor, Dr. Cornelius Kwanga; Dr. Henry Kimeng, Mr. Elias Eyambe, Mr. Nalova Bih, Dr. Ojong Okongo and Dr. Fidelis Nde Che.
The lawyers recalled that the Southern Cameroonian leaders had converged for a meeting at Nera Hotel, Abuja on 6 January when the place was invaded before the meeting began by armed SSS operatives, who took them away to an undisclosed place.
“The said abduction was reported by the Premium Times edition of Sunday, January 7, 2018. In spite of the detailed report of the credible online news medium, the State Security Service has denied knowledge of the abduction of our clients. Consequently, all efforts made by the counsel and family members of our clients to visit them in custody have proved abortive,” said the lawyers.
They argued that failure to disclose information on the abduction to the relatives of the Cameroonian activists by the SSS is a violation of Section 6 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which imposes a duty on any authority having custody of a suspect to notify the next-of-kin or relative of the suspect at no cost to the suspect.
They also contended that the denial of the Cameroonian activists of access to their lawyers is a breach of their fundamental right to fair hearing and has no legal justification.
While the lawyers said they have confirmed from the Government of Cameroon that it requested the Federal Government to repatriate the activists, they said they are confident that the request will be rejected because there is no extradition treaty between the two countries. As such, the lawyers said the federal government should release the activists unconditionally.
“In view of the foregoing, we are compelled to request you to use your good offices to investigate the circumstances of the abduction of the Cameroonian leaders by the State Security Service and any other security agency involved in the embarrassing episode. However, if the Federal Government has evidence of the involvement of our clients in any criminal offense whatsoever the Attorney- General of the Federation should be directed to arraign them in a properly constituted court without any further delay,” said the lawyers.
The lawyers warned that if the activists are not released or arraigned in court within 48 hours of the receipt of the letter, they will apply to the Federal High Court to secure the enforcement of their fundamental rights to personal liberty guaranteed by Section 35 of the Constitution and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement).