Lagos lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate release of the detained Cameroonian freedom fighters. He cautioned the Federal Government against releasing the freedom fighters to Cameroonian President, Paul Biya.
In a statement in Lagos yesterday, Falana said those arrested must be released because Nigeria has no extradition treaty with Cameroon.
Julius Ayuk Tabe, the Nigeria-based chairman of the Governing Council of Ambazonia separatist movement, was taken into custody alongside nine others at a hotel in Abuja on Friday, said an official in the west African country and a member of the separatist group in Cameroon.
Abducted along with Tabe, according to the statement, were Dr. Nfor Ngala Nfor, who is the chairman of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), Dr. Fidelis Nde Che, Dr. Henry Kimeng, Prof. Awasum, Dr. Cornelius Kwanga, Mr. Tassang Wilfred, Barrister Eyambe Elias, Dr. Ojong Okongho and Barrister Nalowa Bih.
The detainees have been denied access to their lawyers, doctors and family members contrary to the provisions of the United Nations Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners.
Falana contended that the Attorney-General of the Federation also lacks the power to initiate extradition proceedings under the Extradition Act (E25) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 for the extradition of the detained Cameroonian freedom fighters.
“To that extent, the federal government has no power whatsoever to hand them over to President Paul Biya. The detained Cameroonian freedom fighters deserve to be released unconditionally from the unlawful custody forthwith. “Instead of using the SSS to fight the proxy war of President Paul Biya the federal government should direct the SSS and other security forces to collaborate with the Nigeria Police Force to fish out the criminal elements that have unleashed mayhem on the people of Benue State,” he said.
Falana argued that since the Cameroonians entered Nigeria legitimately, their arrest and detention by the cannot be justified under the law.
“As Africans the detainees are entitled to the human rights to personal liberty, freedom of association and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution. Furthermore, their unquestionable and inalienable right to self determination is protected by Article 20 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which has been ratified by both Nigeria and Cameroon.