Cameroon secession chief extradited from Nigeria

Tuesday January 30 2018

Leader of Cameroon separatist movement Julius

Leader of Cameroon separatist movement Julius Ayuk Tabe. NDI EUGENE NDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaoundé

The leader of the Cameroon separatist movement, Mr Julius Ayuk Tabe, who was arrested in Nigeria, has been extradited to Yaoundé.

Mr Tabe and 46 others will face trial before a military tribunal, the government said.

Communication minister and government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary told a press conference on Monday that those arrested were now in the hands of the Cameroon judiciary “before which they will be tried for their crimes”.

Mr Tabe is the president of the separatist group that declared the independence of the two English speaking regions last October. He was arrested alongside nine members of his cabinet in Abuja on January 5.

The leadership

At the time of this report though, the Africareview could not independently ascertain when the other 37 were arrested.

Cameroon and Nigeria do not have any extradition treaty and Mr Bakary said the action was made possible because of the “excellent multifaceted cooperation existing between Nigeria and Cameroon, particularly with regard to security”.

“The Government of Cameroon reaffirms the determination of both countries, under the leadership of their respective Heads of State, never to tolerate that their territories be used as a base for destabilising activities directed against one of them,” the Cameroon government spokesman said.

The separatists who the Paul Biya government has labelled as terrorists, were fighting to carve out Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions (former territory of British Southern Cameroons) to form an independent country; the federal republic of Ambazonia.

The symbolic declaration of independence of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia on October 1, 2017 led to several casualties and displacements. The envisioned state was yet to be recognised by the African Union, the United Nations and other countries.

The ongoing turmoil in the two English-speaking regions has been on since October 2016 when lawyers' and teachers' strikes snowballed into a general outcry against marginalisation by the predominantly Francophone government.

Scores of people have been killed in clashes between government troops and protesters. The International Crisis Group says some 60 civilians, 16 members of the army and police officers, as well as an unknown number of secessionist fighters have already been killed.

Peace and security

President Biya has vowed to relentlessly fight all secessionist militants who have taken up arms to perpetrate or encourage violence, saying it was his duty to ensure republican order, social peace, the unity of the nation and Cameroon’s integrity. The secessionists have vowed to continue the struggle “until independence is restored”.

Observers say the arrest and extradition of the separatists was more likely to deepen the crisis. There were also fears the crisis could disrupt major elections in the country this year.

Should the electoral calendar be respected, Cameroonians will vote for president and senate, legislature and municipal representatives this year.

In his end-of-year address to the nation last month, President Biya said “all necessary measures will be taken to ensure that elections are held in peace and security”.

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