Cameroon: lawyers denied access to separatists extradited from Nigeria

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Cameroonian lawyers have been trying unsuccessfully since Monday to “meet the English secessionists” imprisoned in Yaoundé after being extradited from Nigeria earlier this week, AFP told AFP on Thursday.

Mr. Claude Assira explained that he went twice, along with two other lawyers, to the State Secretariat for Defense (SED), the headquarters of the gendarmerie in Yaounde, where 47 separatists from the English-speaking West, whose their self-proclaimed leader and “president”, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, are believed to have been detained since their extradition to Cameroon on Monday.

“Unfortunately, we were faced with an obstacle because of the lack of cooperation of the men in uniform (gendarmes) on the spot (who claimed) to require authorization from the Government Commissioner at the Yaoundé Military Court”, a- he told the press.

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“The government commissioner has also proved to be inaccessible,” he said.

Among the three lawyers is Felix Agbor Nkongho, one of the leaders of the Anglophone protest for over a year, imprisoned in mid-2017 and released in September by presidential decree.

“The steps taken will continue in the right forms and deadlines to allow the mis en cause to benefit from the guarantees provided by the laws of the Republic,” assured Mr. Assira.

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The “president” of the English-speaking separatist movement, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, detained in Nigeria since January 5, was extradited Monday in Cameroon with 46 of his supporters, considered “terrorists” by Yaoundé, according Issa Tchiroma Bakary, spokesman of the Cameroonian government.

“They risk torture and partial trials in front of Cameroonian military courts,” AFP researcher Ilaria Allegrozzi told Amnesty International on Tuesday.

Before the extradition of these separatists, 125 people were already detained in Yaounde in the context of the Anglophone crisis, according to Agbor Nkongho, asking the authorities to dialogue with the secessionists, an option that the government does not envisage, according to Mr. Tchiroma.

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“We should talk to them! This country should talk to every citizen, “wrote Agbor Nkongho on social networks.

Cameroon is preparing for elections – including the presidential elections – at the end of 2018. According to observers, the deep socio-political crisis that Yaoundé is experiencing in its English-speaking regions could disrupt these elections.

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