Charles Taku, Esq – USA
On August 20, 2019, the Cameroon military tribunal in Yaoundé sentenced to life jail ten Ambazonian leaders whom the Cameroon government in connivance with Nigerian authorities abducted from Nera Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria, in January 2018. The government of Paul Biya accused Nfor Ngalla Nfor, Tassang Wilfred, Julius Ayuk Tabe, Dr. Fidelis Nde Che, Dr. Kimbeng Henry Tata, Prof. Awasum Augustine, Shufai Blaise, Esq., Dr. Cornelius Kwanga, Dr. Egbe Ngu Ntui Ogork, and Eyambe Elias, Esq. of insurrection, terrorism, rebellion against the state, secession and other trumped-up charges because they advocated and continue to stand for the right of the people of Ambazonia to self-determination as provided under international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the African Union, and the International Bill of Human Rights.
At the time of the abduction, the victims were refugees residing in Nigeria – therefore, deserving protection in Nigeria under the principle of non-refoulment. The Nigerian Federal High Court in Abuja on March 1, 2019, ruled that the return of the prisoners of conscience and Cameroon’s war against the Ambazonian war is a violation of the Nigerian constitution and international law, and ordered the Nigerian government to return all ten innocent victims back to Nigeria.
The sentencing to life by the Cameroon government has drawn worldwide condemnation. Barrister Charles Taku, Lead Counsel, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Special Court for Sierra Leone at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has described the nocturnal trial and sentencing of Ayuk Julius Tabe and others as an “Irrelevant Parody of Justice” in which Cameroon has prepared and drank its own poison. Below is the full reaction of Barrister Charles Taku, an Ambazonian:
Irrelevant Parody of Justice
The politically motivated life sentences slammed on Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and nine Ambazoinian leaders by a Court-martial in Cameroun with the complicity of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is one more unfortunate example of the militarization of justice, civil and political rights in African through inter-state terror. The ten victims who were in Nigeria under the protection of international law were abducted from a hotel in Abuja Nigeria in a coordinated operation carried out by Nigeria and Cameroun intelligence and paramilitary operatives.
A Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria has since decided that the abduction and rendition of these victims were illegal and violated the Nigerian constitution and international law and ordered the return to Nigeria of the abductees; a decision, the Nigerian government has so far ignored.
The entire operation leading to this Cameroun staged night judicial terror is a slur on the rule of law credentials and constitutional governance of Nigeria and Cameroun. It provides cattle fodder for the validation of the criticism made by an increasing number of observers that the two countries may be paying lip-service to the supposed fight against Boko-Haram in which the international community has deployed extensive resources.
Going by the interstate abduction and court-martial of these victims in a night judicial ritual, a method allegedly used by Boko-Haram in its operations, could this hydra-headed monster so-called Boko-Haram not be but a stealth interstate ruse used to create instability to justify political brigandage and the corrupt eternalization of political power relying on international resources and support? Why will supposed sovereign nations prefer interstate terror to the international rule of law in the conduct of international relations?
This irrelevant parody of justice against Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and Southern Cameroons leaders is not about ten individuals. It is about the consequences in Nigeria, Cameroun, and Africa of the legitimization of abduction and state terror as alternatives to the international rule of law. The international community must make a strong statement condemning this travesty and judicial brigandage and seek the unconditional release of these victims. Its indifference may, unfortunately, be construed as a tacit validation of impunity in an explosive region where violence is not a rare commodity.
No one should be under the illusion, that the impugned court-martial process and its outcome is a victory for Cameroun or Nigeria that collaborated in it. It is an international symbol of shame for the two countries and a validation of the just claims of the Southern Cameroons [Ambazonia] to sovereignty and freedom.
The ten did not present the case of the independence of the Southern Cameroons by violent means. At their abduction, they were merely articulating the claims, which the Southern Cameroons have strenuously presented for the past fifty-seven years, at the United Nations, at home and worldwide. Rather than seek dialogue to resolve the conflict, Cameroun declared war with impunity, hoping to subdue the aggrieved people of the Southern Cameroons through genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Nigeria government, which Africa and the world relied on to mediate in this and other African disputes, decided to throw its support to the government of Cameroun in the mistaken belief that the abduction of these victims would end the crisis. By its own miscalculation, Nigeria lost an opportunity to oversee a peaceful solution to a potentially protracted conflict in its own backyard.
Ambazonia is an albatross on the neck of the Republic of Cameroun, which will loosen its grip only when Ambazonia is fully liberated. The life sentences only extend the duration and complexity of the conflict, which neither the present leaders of Cameroun nor Nigeria will be around to see how it plays out. May be only their progeny, may as fate often does, have the chance to have glimpses of these victims when they will be liberated to partake in the celebration of an independent and free neighboring Ambazonia. The night justice of shame will not define the cause they stand for. The sustained resistance, self-defense and the unbreakable will and resolve of a people who have craved for justice with peace plants, memoranda to the UN and the international community, their precious blood and the eternal conscience of humanity will determine the outcome of this conflict and not conspiratorial carnage, terror and the arrogance of ephemeral power of a frail failing dictatorship. For this reason, by imposing the so-called life sentences and other coercive conditions of life on Southern Cameroons captives, they might in this occasion, have put their own poisoned portions on their own lips and that of their nation.