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Cameroon’s military court sentences Ambazonia leader, nine others to life imprisonment

A MILITARY court in Yaounde, capital city of Cameroon, has sentenced the detained leader of the Southern Cameroonian, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and nine others to life imprisonment.

Ayuk Tabe and his co-detainees were found guilty by the military court of “rebellion, complicity in terrorism, financing of terrorism, revolution, insurrection, hostility against the state, propagation of fake news and lack of identification.”

The verdict was handed down on Tuesday morning.

They were also asked to pay a joint fine of 250 billion CFA francs ($422 million, €381 million) to the Cameroonian government.

Lawyers defending Ayuk Tabe and his supporters were quick to accuse the judge of bias.

“We went to court at 9 a.m. yesterday and left at 6:30 this morning,” barrister Ayukotang Ndep Nkongho Tifuh told DW. “The attitude of the judge does not only confirm his bias and personal interest in sentencing the accused persons, but equally reveals the presumed outcome of the proceedings.”

On January 5, 2018, 12 leaders of the Southern Cameroon Ambazonia Interim Government led by Ayuk Tabe Julius were meeting at NERA Hotel, Abuja to discuss the refugees’ situation and a surge in violence when they were arrested by Nigerian security operatives.

The UNHCR office in Abuja was outraged by the abduction and drew the attention of the Nigerian government to their international obligations under article 33 of the Geneva Convention that protects the rights of refugees and prohibits refoulment, which is expulsion or return of refugees to hostile territory

Ayuk Tabe and 46 other separatists had sought refuge in Nigeria, but were detained in Abuja by the Nigerian government and later deported to Cameroon.

Crises broke out when members of Southern Cameroon Nigeria Council (SCNC) and the Southern Cameroon Ambazonia United Front (SCACUF)  declared independence on October 1, 2017, from Francophone Cameroon.

Hundred of thousands of Southern Cameroonians have since been displaced by the crisis.

There has a continued influx of Southern Cameroonians into Nigeria since the Paul Biya-led government clamped down on them after the declaration.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) estimated that about 246,000 people have fled the South West region alone with about 25,000 believed to have fled to Nigeria occupying 50 locations in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Benue and Abuja.

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