Femi Falana (SAN), foremost human rights lawyer, has given the Nigerian government two weeks to bring back refugees and asylum seekers deported to their countries by the National Security Adviser (NSA).
In a letter dated March 20, 2019, Falana informed Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney-General of the Federation, of the court judgments against the NSA.
Judgments were given in two suits; FHC/ABJ/CS/147/2018 by Wilfred Tassang and 50 others against the NSA and FHC/ABJ/CS/85/2018 by Mr. Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and 10 others against the NSA.
Falana stated that refugees and asylum seekers are guaranteed legal protections according to 1999 Constitution, the National Commission for Refugees (Establishment Etc) Act, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations on Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees Commission.
Falana wrote: “In view of the foregoing, we are compelled to request you to use your good offices to advise the Federal Government to comply with the aforesaid judgments of the Federal High Court without any further delay.
“In particular, you may wish to draw the attention of the relevant authorities to the case of the Minister of Internal Affairs v. Alhaji Shugaba Darman (1982) 3 NCLR 915 where the respondent who had been illegally deported to the Republic of Chad by the Federal Government was brought back to Nigeria in compliance with the orders of the Borno State High Court presided over by the Honourable Justice Oye Adefila of blessed memory."
Falana promised to institute a legal case of contempt proceeding against the NSA and Nigerian government if they failed to return the deported refugees within the stipulated time.
Falana had on March 1, won a case he instituted against the government when Justice Anwali Chinkere of the Federal High Court ordered that deportation of refugees and asylum seekers is illegal and unconstitutional.
A key Cameroonian separatist leader, Julius Ayuk Tabe, and 46 others were deported from Nigeria after their arrest in Abuja.
Ayuk, President of a self-declared breakaway state made up of the Anglophone regions of majority-Francophone Cameroon, was one of 15 people whom Cameroon issued an international arrest warrant for in November 2017.
Cameroonian Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary approved the move, saying "a group of 47 terrorists, among them Mr. Ayuk Tabe, has for some hours been in the hands of Cameroonian justice, before which they will answer for their crimes."
He also praised Nigeria for joining Cameroon in “never tolerating their respective territories serving as a base for activities that destabilise one or the other".