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Jailed Varsity Lecturers Seek Nigerian Govt’s Help To Regain Freedom In Cameroon

Jailed Varsity Lecturers Seek Nigerian Govt’s Help To Regain Freedom In Cameroon

Ten University Professors and 47 refugees of Southern Cameroon origin have appealed to the Federal Government of Nigeria and Nigerian lawmakers to urgently intervene towards securing their freedom from incarceration in Cameroon where they were being held in prison since January 5, 2018.

The detainees, who were working in Nigerian universities before their arrest, in a statement signed by their lawyer, Joseph Awah Fru, on Monday, said Professors Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe and nine others, as well as 47 refugees were illegally abducted in Taraba and Cross River States of Nigeria.

The statement titled, “Urgent call for action to free illegally incarcerated Southern Cameroons professors and refugees,” urgently called on the Nigerian Government for action to address what it called dire humanitarian crisis unfolding along Nigeria’s eastern borders.

“As legal representatives of the unlawfully detained Southern Cameroons professors refugees, we hereby issue this urgent call for action to address the dire humanitarian crisis unfolding along Nigeria’s eastern borders on behalf of Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe and nine other illegally detained professors of Nigerian universities as well as other 47 refugees abducted in Taraba and Cross River States in Nigeria,” Fru said.

He drew the global attention to the plight of over 1.7 million displaced individuals, including 170,000 refugees in Nigeria and Ghana amid focus on other crises, saying these cannot be overlooked.

“The self-defense war being fought by Southern Cameroons’ separatist fighters which was initiated and brutally prosecuted by the Yaoundé regime, against citizens of the former British Southern Cameroons has led to a staggering death toll of over 40,000, including women and children, widespread displacement, and the complete razing of more than 600 Southern Cameroons villages and communities.

“It is no doubt that the war in Southern Cameroons is having untold suffering and tremendous negative ramifications on the Nigerian economy. More so the humanitarian toll is indisputable. The international community knows and is witness to the Refugee crisis emanating therefrom.

“The influx of refugees has strained already limited resources and escalated tensions in vulnerable communities across multiple states,” the lawyer said.

He recognised the alleged abduction and illegal deportation of the university professors and refugees in January 2018 as an integral part to the crisis.

The legal counsel averred that despite legal rulings denouncing these actions as arbitrary and illegal, the victims remain unjustly detained in appalling conditions in Cameroon.

In light of the grave circumstances, the detainees through the statement, urgently called upon the Nigerian legislature and the Federal Government to secure the implementation of UN-HRC-WGAD Communication 59/2022, demanding the immediate release of the unlawfully incarcerated individuals.

Fru also charged the Nigerian government to enforce the judgments of the Federal High Court of Abuja in 2019, which ordered the release and compensation of his clients.

The statement further urged the government to initiate legal proceedings before international forums, including the International Court of Justice (ICJ), to hold Cameroon accountable for fraudulent misrepresentation during the Bakassi Peninsula case and advocate for the Southern Cameroons’ right to self-determination.

It also sought advocated for Nigeria to leverage its regional influence to mediate and resolve the Southern Cameroons conflict, thereby restoring peace and stability to the Gulf of Guinea region.

“The urgency of this situation cannot be overstated. Nigeria’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and safeguarding human rights must prevail,” the statement said.

The statement expressed gratitude to the Nigerian House of Representatives for the opportunity to raise awareness on the critical issue, while soliciting for immediate action to alleviate the suffering of the detainees and the affected communities.

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