22.5 C
New York
Thursday, July 18, 2024

Human Rights Violation: The Plight of Professors of Nigerian Universities Jailed in Cameroon [MUST READ]

....Will  President Tinubu revisit the case?

Must read

It has been over six years since professors of Nigerian universities, citizens of Cameroon, were kidnapped at Nera Hotel in Abuja.
They were meeting to discuss the welfare of Cameroonian refugees who had fled for their lives into Nigerian territory, they were suddenly kidnapped at gun point by  20 armed men on the 5th of January 2018.
These academics were handcuffed and held in an underground detention facility of the Department of State Services (DSS) for 20 days.
Later, they were repatriated to Cameroon, with the assistance of the administration of the then-President Muhammadu Buhari, despite the fact that they were legally resident in Nigeria, as refugees and registered asylum seekers.
At Cameroon, they were brought before a military tribunal, tried in French, even though they were English speaking“ with no provision of a translator and sentenced to life in prisonment, at the Kondengui Maximum Security Detention Facility with a fine of US$525 million.
This action has been widely criticised globally.
A Federal High Court in Abuja on March 1st, 2019, and November 28th, 2019 recognized the violations of their rights.
The judge ruled that the state must pay NGN5 million (US$13,800) to each detainee for violating their fundamental rights, including the right to life, dignity, fair hearing, health, freedom of movement, and association.
Additionally, NGN200,000 in damages were awarded for deportation. The court issued a perpetual injunction against further violations and ordered the deportees’ return to Nigeria promptly.
The UN Human Rights Special Procedures Working Group based in Geneva, Switzerland earlier called on the government of Cameroon to release them. Because of the violation of their human rights citing  that “the manner in which the complainants were arrested, detained in Nigeria, transferred to Cameroon, detained, tried, and sentenced to life imprisonment violated various international laws to which both Cameroon and Nigeria are signatories to.
The Group also asked that Cameroon and Nigeria remedy the situation: “Accord them an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”
Heather Nauert, the US Department of State spokesperson, emphasized that the actions of Nigeria and Cameroon violated the detainees’ rights by forcibly repatriating them. She urged both governments to adhere to their international obligations and refrain from such actions.
Many rights groups have criticized the imprisonment, calling for their release but years down the line they are still in detention.
Ogaba Oga, a legal practitioner, explains that Refugees in Nigeria are afforded various legal rights through both national and international instruments.
The National Refugee Commission Act of 1989 establishes fundamental protections, including non-refoulement, access to basic needs like food and shelter, the right to work and education within national regulations, and freedom of movement within Nigeria.
Internationally, Nigeria is bound by the Refugee Convention of 1951, which reinforces these rights. Additionally, refugees are protected under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
However, challenges persist in the consistent implementation of these rights, sometimes resulting in difficulties for refugees in accessing services and opportunities. Registration with the National Refugee Commission is essential for accessing these rights and protections.
He however added that registering with the National Refugee Commission is crucial for accessing rights and protection and that Implementation of these rights can sometimes be inconsistent, and refugees may face challenges accessing services or opportunities as in this case.
Speaking on the manner with which they were tried he said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to understand the charges raised against them and right to a fair trial. This generally includes the right to have the proceedings translated into a language the defendant understands.
In theory, a military tribunal cannot try civilians in Cameroon. This is because of international and regional human rights standards. The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulate that civilians should be tried in ordinary civilian courts. Trying civilians in military courts is generally seen as a violation of their right to a fair trial and a violation of their human rights.
Cameroon’s own laws. Cameroon’s Military Justice Code generally limits the jurisdiction of military tribunals to military personnel and offences committed while on duty
However, in practice, Cameroon has been criticized for trying civilians in military courts, particularly on terrorism charges. The 2014 Terrorism Law has been used to bring charges against human rights defenders and others before military tribunals, often with unfair trials and harsh sentences. This practice has been condemned by human rights groups and international bodies.
Overall, while it is generally prohibited under international and national law, the practice of trying civilians in military courts “does occur” in Cameroon, particularly in relation to terrorism charges. This practice has been widely criticized as a violation of human rights.

The activists held in detention to date are:

Julius AyukTabe: Information Technology expert, Vice President of the American University of Nigeria, Human Rights Activist, Philanthropist.

Augustine Cheh Awasum: Professor of Surgery: Dept of Veterinary Surgery and Diagnostic Imaging, Ahmadu Bello University. Fellow: College of Veterinary Surgeon, Nigeria.
Blaise BerinyuySevidzem: Barrister-at-Law, human rights advocate, solicitor and notary public .
Cornelius Njikimbi Kwanga: PhD in Economics and Senior Lecturer, Umaru Musa Yar’adua University.
Egbe Ogork Ntui: PhD in Engineering and Associate Professor of Structural Engineering in Bayero University.
Elias Ebai Eyambe: Barrister-at-Law, advocate, solicitor and notary public.
Fidelis Ndeh-Che: PhD in Engineering and Associate Professor: I T Engineer, American University of Nigeria.
Henry Tata Kimeng: Associate Professor: Civil Engineering. Dept of Architecture. Ahmadu Bello University.
Nfor Ngala Nfor: Political scientist and author.
Wilfred FombangTassang: Secondary School teacher and trade union leader.
Comfort Yakubu writes from Abuja. She can be reached by email HERE.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

More articles

- Advertisement -The Fast Track to Earning Income as a Publisher
- Advertisement -The Fast Track to Earning Income as a Publisher
- Advertisement -Top 20 Blogs Lifestyle

Latest article