June 14, 2024

FG urged to secure release of detained Nigerian professors in Cameroon


…as Nigeria, Cameroon official’s absence stalled the petition In Reps

By Gift ChapiOdekina, Abuja

A former member of the House of Representatives, Hon Abdul Oroh, again reiterated the call on President Bola Tinubu-led federal government to employ diplomatic and political measures to ensure the release of Professors in some Nigerian universities and other professionals detained in Cameroon.

This just as another lawyer to the detainees, Joseph Fru said their clients have been languishing in Cameroonian prisons for over five years, insisting they are law-abiding citizens, not criminals.

Oroh a lawyer at FRULAW Chambers: Barristers, Solicitors, Public Notaries of the Cameroon Bar Association which tendered a petition currently before the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions made this emphasis while addressing journalists in Abuja.

The detainee’s lawyers bemoaned the absence of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Cameroonian High Commissioner, the UNHCR Coordinator, the Attorney-General of the Federation, and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a meeting of the House Committee on Tuesday, June 11, 2024.

They expressed worry that the repeated non-appearance of key representatives from both Nigeria and Cameroon at the Committee’s sittings significantly stalled the fate of the professors and others jailed in Cameroon.

Recall that the Cameroonian refugee Professors and professionals were arrested at Nera Hotel in Abuja on January 5, 2018, by security agents and later repatriated to Cameroon, tried by a military tribunal and sentenced to life imprisonment, at the Kondengui Maximum Security detention facility.

The asylum seekers in Nigeria in their petition, pleaded with the House to among others cause the government of Nigeria to institute an urgent action to secure the implementation of Communication 59/2022 of 14th October 2022 of the UN-HRC-WGAD calling for their release.

They also prayed the House to
cause the Nigerian Government to take action and implement the rulings in the three judgments of the Federal High Court of Abuja in 2019, ordering the release and compensation of these petitioners.

Speaking further on the matter, Oroh maintained that the detainees were apprehended while in the custody of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) of Nigeria and subsequently transferred to Cameroon.

“…We realise that these people were not detained under the administration of Bola Tinubu. Bola Tinubu is a human rights person. He was a former exile, a former refugee in another country who was running away from tyranny. He fought tyranny and defeated tyranny.

“Now there is hope renewed so we want that hope that is renewed to engage our neighbours, to touch the lives of our neighbours, especially these my clients. We want him to intervene with the Cameronian authorities to release them,” he had say.

On his part, Fru maintained that despite legal rulings condemning their abduction and deportation as arbitrary and illegal, the illegal detainees remained in appalling conditions.

He stressed the importance of the officials involved to present to provide their side of the story, emphasising the need for transparency in the matter.

The lawyer had insisted that the detainees were abducted and not arrested was being reported, saying; “When you say someone is arrested, there is a legal course for them to be picked up by the forces of law and order. apprehension.

“But when someone arbitrarily without any legal course is picked up and then held for as long as they were held in Nigeria before being sent to Cameron that is called an abduction.

“The second thing is that they were not repatriated. You repatriate someone when you go through a legal channel and you exhaust all the legal processes and the court decides that they go back to where they came from to answer in that jurisdiction.”