A court in Cameroon Thursday rejected an application for bail for some detained Anglophone separatist leaders who were seized in Nigeria and extradited to Yaoundé in January.
The Yaoundé Appeal Court confirmed an earlier verdict by the High Court rejecting a plea by defence lawyers that secessionist leader Julius Ayuk Tabe and his fellow defendants be granted bail.
Mr Fru John Nsoh, who led the defence team, said he was not surprised by the outcome of the brief hearing and promised they would petition the Supreme Court within 48 hours.
“The Appeal Court has confirmed the verdict that was issued by the High Court, meaning they have rejected our application. I was not surprised though, and we are going to file at the Supreme Court,” Mr Nsoh said.
Their loved ones
Some family members and friends of the detainees came to the hearing with hope that their loved ones would be set free.
“It has not been easy for the family. We are in tears everyday…,” a sister of one of the detainees stated, before bursting into tears.
Mr Tabe, the president of a self-declared breakaway state of Ambazonia, and 46 other members of the secessionist movement, were held incommunicado in Yaoundé for 10 months before being granted access to lawyers recently, Mr Nsoh said.
Prior to their extradition, Mr Tabe and the co-accused had been "held in secret" at a hotel in Abuja, according to Amnesty International.
The human rights advocacy group said the activists were at risk of “unfair trial before a military court and the deeply disturbing possibility of torture” in Cameroon.
Thursday’s hearing was their second public appearance since they were extradited.
The suspects symbolically proclaimed the independence of the hypothetical of Ambazonia on October 1 last year.
Their subsequent deportation marked an escalation in the crisis that has rocked the two English speaking regions for nearly two years now.