January 5, 2022, will mark four years since American University of Nigeria (AUN)’s Vice President Sisiku AyukTabe and his colleagues were illegally seized by Nigeria’s notoriously corrupt and ruthless paramilitary police unit known as SARS and handed over to Cameroon. Though the Nigerian Federal High Court in Abuja later ruled that their arrest and refoulement violated Nigerian and international law, they remain imprisoned.
On this somber anniversary, Nigerian and international academics and human rights leaders have issued a statement (printed in full below) demanding that Nigeria and Cameroon respect the High Court decision and immediately return AUN’s Vice President and his colleagues to their families and students. They are asking faculty, staff, students, and human rights supporters worldwide to add their voices to this call.
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CALL FROM NIGERIAN AND INTERNATIONAL ACADEMICS AND HUMAN RIGHTS LEADERS:
Return the Vice President of American University of Nigeria and his Colleagues, abducted by SARS
January 5, 2022, will mark four years since American University of Nigeria (AUN)’s Vice President and his colleagues were illegally seized by Nigeria’s notoriously corrupt and ruthless paramilitary police unit known as SARS. The victims, leaders of the Ambazonian refugee community in Nigeria who have come to be known as the “Nera 10,” were meeting at the Nera Hotel to plan a meeting with the UNHCR regarding the plight of tens of thousands of newly arrived refugees from Ambazonia (also known as English-speaking or Southern Cameroons) who had been pushed across the border by attacks on their communities by the Cameroon military.
Full names and positions of the SARS abductees:
• Assistant Vice President of Marketing & Recruitment at AUN — Sisiku AyukTabe
• Assistant Professor of Computing, Director of the Office of Institutional Research & Effectiveness, & Vice Chair of the Institutional Review Board at AUN — Dr. Fidelis Ndeh-Che
• Head of the Surgery Unit of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Ahmadu Bello University — Prof. Augustine Awasum
• Associate Professor of Geology, Ahmadu Bello University — Dr. Henry Kimeng
• Senior Lecturer at the Department of Economics, Yar’adua University — Dr. Cornelius Kwanga
• Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Bayero University — Dr. Egbe Ogork
• Union organizer and Leader of the Teachers Unions & the Federation of Parent Teachers Union (CAPTAC) — Mr. Wilfred Tassang
• Human Rights lawyer and Legal Workers Organizer — Barrister Shufai Berinyuy
• Human Rights lawyer and Legal Workers Organizer — Barrister Eyambe Elias
• Civil Society leader — Dr. Nfor Ngalla Nfor
SARS was apparently acting in a back-room arrangement with the regime in next door Cameroon, which is the longest running dictatorship on earth and a French neocolonial regime . After holding these educators and civil rights leaders for three weeks, SARS illegally handed them to the Cameroon regime — in violation of their fundamental human rights and the international legal principle of non refoulement, which asserts that refugees should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom[4-7].
Fourteen months later, in a sharp rebuke to the SARS and the Nigerian administration, the Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria, issued a ruling that this abduction of the Nera 10 had violated Nigerian and international law . The Court ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria to effect their immediate and unconditional release and return to Nigeria, and make a payment of two hundred million Naira (about five hundred thousand US Dollars) to each for aggravated damages.
Yet, nearly three years later no action has been made to implement the High Court’s decision. Instead, the Cameroon regime has continued and escalated a campaign of massacres, mass arrests, torture, arbitrary detentions and forced disappearances of teachers, students, and civil society leaders from the targeted community. Activists on the ground estimate at least 3000 university lecturers, students, lawyers, trade unionists, human rights activists and journalists are being held in horrendous conditions in various detention facilities across the territory controlled by Cameroon. They are being detained arbitrarily and many have spent years in prison without being charged or tried, with many reported cases of torture, squalid conditions, health neglect, and outright disappearances.
On this somber anniversary, we, the undersigned, demand that Nigeria and Cameroon respect the March 1, 2019, Abuja High Court decision, which is inline with their international human rights and humanitarian obligations, and immediately return AUN’s Vice President Sisiku AyukTabe and his colleagues to their families and students.
We further call on faculty, staff, students, and human rights supporters worldwide to contact their elected officials and ask that they:
• Publicly and strongly condemn the blatant violations of the fundamental rights of AUN Vice President Sisiku AyukTabe and his colleagues.
• Publicly demand that Cameroon and Nigeria be blocked from accessing your tax money and other public support until they comply with their international human rights and humanitarian obligations as detailed in the March 1, 2019, Nigerian Federal High Court decision.
• Omoyele Sowore, Sahara Reporters
• Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, USA
• Dr. Uju Agomoh, Executive Director, Prisoners’ Rehabilitation And Welfare Action (PRAWA) and former Council Member National Human Rights Commission & Special Rapporteur Police, Prison and Detention Centre (Nigeria)
• Femi Falana, Esq, Human Rights lawyer, International Bar Association (IBA)
• Abdul Oroh, Esq, Executive Director, Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Nigeria
• Prof. Patrice Nganang, Stony Brook University, USA
• Prof. Chris W J Roberts, Political Science, University of Calgary, Canada
• Prof. Matt Meyer, Senior Research Scholar, University of Massachusetts-Amherst Resistance Studies Initiative and Secretary General, International Peace Research Association (IPRA)
• Endowed Professor Stellan Vinthagen, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
1. Nigeria’s Police Brutality Crisis: What’s Happening Now
2. 'This is a genocide': villages burn as war rages in blood-soaked Cameroon
3. For the sake of Cameroon, life-president Paul Biya must be forced out
4. UNHCR condemns forced returns of Cameroon asylum-seekers from Nigeria
5. Amnesty International on Cameroon: Ten arrested Anglophone leaders at risk of unfair trial and torture if deported from Nigeria
6. US Department of State on the forcible return of refugees by Nigeria to Cameroon
7. Rights groups condemn deportation of academics and others
8. Nigerian High Court Ruling on the case of the forcibly return to Cameroon of the Vice President of American University of Nigeria in Yola, Sisiku AyukTabe, and his colleagues
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