By Beltha Mokube – Friday March 1, 2019.
A judgment handed down at the Federal High Court of Abuja in Nigeria, Friday, March 1, 2019, in a matter pitting ten (10) Anglophone pro-independence leaders and the Nigerian government was also extended to two others earlier released, National Telegraph has learned.
Hon Justice Anwuli I Chikere, the presiding judge at Court IV of the Federal High Court Abuja has ruled that the Nigerian Government must ensure all refugees deported to Cameroon; a total of fifty-seven (57) as a file at the court suggested must be returned to Nigeria with immediate effect, Barrister Abdul Oroh, one of the lawyers of the Anglophone leaders based in Nigeria told National Telegraph by phone from his head office in Abuja, early Friday, March 1, 2019.
Barrister Abdul Oroh has also noted that the judgment also directly affects Barrister Nalowa Bih, the lone lady in the Nera Hotel Saga as well as Dr. Ojong Nkongho. Barrister Oroh said, the court isn’t aware the duo was already freed. According to the legal mind, the case was filed when all twelve Nera Hotel victims were still incommunicado, adding that the judgment applies to all twelve.
Barrister Oroh also revealed that although Barrister Nalowa Bih and Dr. Ojong Nkongho weren’t extradited to Cameroon, they would still be compensated with the same sum like the ten of the Nera Twelve (12) who were extradited. Going forward, he argued that their fundamental Human Rights were also violated when the Nigerian Government arrested and kept them incommunicado.
Barrister Nalowa Bih is amongst the controversial figures in a Revolution of English-speaking Cameroonian. The female lawyer who’s an asylee in Germany is amongst those suspected of having a hand in the Nera Hotel Incident.
According to Barrister Oroh, the first case was brought under the Fundamental Rights Enforcement (Procedure) Rule of 2009, on the violation of the fundamental rights of Sisiku et alia, their rights to movement, family, amongst others.
On this count, the court has ruled that the abduction at Nera Hotel was illegal and the violation of the Nigerian Law, the violation of African Charter on Human and People’s Right, consequently, the court then ordered that they should be paid five million naira (₦5.000.000) each and that the Nigerian Government should be restrained from further violating their rights, Barrister Oroh narrated.
Barrister Oroh went on that according to the Judge, the Nigerian Constitution and the United Nations Convention of the Status of Refugees in 1951 in its article 32 and 33 were violated and consequently all ten Anglophone Pro-Independence leaders must be sent back to Nigeria.
The court again ordered that forty-seven (47) others arrested from Gembu in Taraba state and deported to Cameroon should be returned to Nigeria and be compensated with the sum of two hundred thousand Naira (₦200.000) each. Barrister Oroh then confirmed that today’s judgment is for a total of fifty-nine (59); the Nera 12 and the Taraba 47.
The Federal High Court Abuja also said there’s no evidence that those extradited were involved in any illegal act that warranted their arrest and deportation, Barrister Oroh hinted, adding that the judge opined that even if they were involved, the due process wasn’t followed.
Barrister Oroh disclosed that they would in the days ahead apply for the certified true copies of the Judgement which would now empower the Attorney General of the Federation of Nigeria who is also Minister of Justice to give effect to the Judgement by ensuring that the refugees are returned and compensated.
The Nigerian Government had raised an objection that no one had the right to represent Sisiku et alia in their absence but the Judge overruled the objection, stating that everyone must be his brother’s keeper.
In a statement, Barrister Abdul Oroh thanked the Judge for upholding Justice, adding that such milestone judgment would cleanse the image of Nigeria that was already so badly dampened by the extradition saga.
Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius and nine others were arrested in Nera, a hotel in Abuja, Nigeria on Friday, January 5, 2018. They would later be extradited to Yaoundé, Cameroon, an act that has been described as a bootleg. They’re being accused of fueling an armed conflict that has broken out in Cameroon. They’ve all denounced their Cameroonian Nationality, insisting that they’re of Southern Cameroons aka Ambazonia, a self-proclaimed new nation.
Another set of lawyers in Cameroon who are defending the decad from the Cameroon Government at the country’s military court in the capital city of Yaoundé on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 during a hearing, submitted documents from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), corroborating the defendants are refugees and asylum seekers.
On Thursday, February 21, 2019, they filed a Notice of Appeal at the Yaoundé Military Court that has been hearing the matter of their clients, and on Friday, February 22, 2019, a Memorandum and Grounds of Appeal was filed at the Court of Appeal of the Centre Region over the same case. The trial in Yaoundé is due to resume on Friday, March 7, 2019. The judgment coming from Nigeria would greatly affect that in Cameroon.
Friday’s judgment is considered crucial for the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon since the matter is not unconnected to an armed conflict that is said to be deepening in the two English-speaking regions of the North West and South West with Anglophone militias battling pro-regime soldiers as they aim to uphold a new country; Ambazonia.