Prominent Nigerian human rights activists, Sowore, Odinkalu, Agomoh demand release of President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and his top aides
Some prominent human rights’ activists in Nigeria have demanded the release of the Vice-President of American University Nigeria (AUN), Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and nine others arrested by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force since 2018.
Tabe and other scholars were arrested by the then SARS operatives in January 2018 at Nera Hotel, Abuja, as alleged members of Ambazonia, also known as English-speaking Cameroon or Southern Cameroon and they had been illegally detained since then in Cameroon.
Despite the court ruling in 2019 that ordered the Nigerian government to unconditionally release them and a payment of N200milllion (about $500,000) to each for aggravated damages, the Cameroonian dons had remained in detention.
However, the activists including Omoyele Sowore; former Chairman of Nigerian Human Rights Commission and lawyer, Prof Chidi Odinkalu, and Executive Director, Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), Dr Uju Agomoh, have called for their release.
They also urged all students across universities, colleges and faculties to join in the struggle for the freedom of the scholars.
They disclosed these in a statement, “Call for SARS to Release and Return the Vice President of the American University of Nigeria and his Colleagues Now” made available to SaharaReporters on Tuesday.
The statement reads, “January 5, 2022, will mark four years since American University of Nigeria (AUN)’s Vice President and his colleagues have been illegally imprisoned after being snatched by Nigeria’s notoriously corrupt and ruthless paramilitary police known as SARS.
“The victims, leaders of the Ambazonian community living in Nigeria who have come to be known as the “Nera 10,” were meeting at the Nera Hotel to plan a meeting with the UNHCR regarding the plight of tens of thousands of refugees from Ambazonia (also known as English-speaking Cameroon or Southern Cameroon), who have been pushed across the border by the violent actions of the Cameroonian military.
“Those arrested include: Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Recruitment at American University of Nigeria (AUN) — Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, Assistant Professor of Computing, Director of the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, and Vice Chair of the Institutional Review Board AUN — Dr. Fidelis Ndeh-Che, Head of the Surgery Unit of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Ahmadu Bello University — Prof. Augustine Awasum, Associate Professor of Geology, Ahmadu Bello University — Dr. Henry Kimeng, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Economics, Yar’adua University — Dr. Cornelius Kwanga; Others are Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Bayero University — Dr. Egbe Ogork, Union organizer and Leader of the Teachers Unions and the Federation of Parent Teachers Union (CAPTAC) — Mr. Wilfred Tassang, Human Rights lawyer and Legal Worker Organizer — Barrister Shufai Berinyuy, Human Rights lawyer and Legal Worker Organizer — Barrister Eyambe EliasCivil Society leader — Dr. Nfor Ngalla Nfor.
“SARS was apparently acting in a back-room arrangement with next door Cameroon, which is controlled by the longest running dictatorship on earth, a French neocolonial regime. After holding these educators and civil rights leaders for three weeks, SARS in violation of their fundamental human rights and the international legal principle of non-refoulement, illegally handed them to Cameroon.
“Fourteen months later, in a sharp rebuke to the SARS and the Nigerian administration, the Federal High Court in Abuja issued a ruling that this abduction of the Nera 10 had violated Nigerian and international law.
“The Court ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria to ensure their immediate and unconditional release and return to Nigeria, and make a payment of two hundred million Naira (about five hundred thousand US Dollars) to each for aggravated damages.
“Yet, nearly three years later, no action has been made to implement the court’s decision. Instead, the Cameroon regime has continued and escalated a campaign of mass arrests, torture, arbitrary detentions and forced disappearances of teachers, students and civil society leaders from the targeted community.
“Activists on the ground estimate at least 3000 university lecturers, students, lawyers, trade unionists, human rights activists and journalists are being held in horrendous conditions in various detention facilities across the territory controlled by Cameroon solely for advocating for the rights and dignity of their community.
“They are being detained arbitrarily and many have spent years in prison without being charged or tried, with many reported cases of torture, squalid conditions, health neglect, and outright disappearances.
“On this sombre anniversary, we demand that SARS and the Nigerian and Cameroon governments respect the March 1, 2019, High Court decision and immediately return AUN Vice President Sisiku AyukTabe and his colleagues to their families and students.
“We call on faculty, staff, students, and human rights supporters worldwide to take action to demand the immediate rectification of this travesty of justice. Please contact the ambassadors and political leaders in your country who are responsible for maintaining relationships with Nigeria and Cameroon, and ask that they publicly demand the return of the “Nera 10” to their families and students.
“Examples of such ambassadors and political leaders include the US Secretary of State, UK Foreign Secretary, EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, etc.”
Source: Sahara Reporters