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Cameroon: Lawyers urge court to return Ambazonia leaders to Nigeria

Ambazonia leadermiddle at Yaounde military tribunal

Lawyers of the detained leaders of the Ambazonia separatist movement have urged the Yaounde military tribunal to return the accused to Nigeria where they were arrested over a year ago for their nationalities to be established.

They made their submission on Thursday January 10 as the case against the ten detained Ambazonia leaders re-opened at the Yaounde military tribunal.

The detainees had rejectted their Cameroonian nationality in the previous hearing and did same on Wednesday insisting they were refugees of the former British Southern Cameroons on exile in Nigeria at the time of their arrest and extradition to Cameroon. The case wase adjourned for the 7 for the accused to show proof fo their nationality and refugee status as they claim.

Barrister Patrick Yong said the military tribunal is not competent to try the accused given that questions have been raised over their nationality.

Given that their nationality is a subject of debate, only a civil court can establish it according to section 41(1) of the 1968 nationality codde. The residences of the accused have been mentioned by the judge and going by the Section 41(2) of the 1968 nationality code, « any such action shall be brought before the court of the domicile or failing that the residence of the person whose nationality is disputed, according to the rules of procedure in force, and the raising of Cameroon of foreign of procedure in force, and the raising of Cameroon of foreign nationality as a defence before any other court suspends further proceedings until decided in the ordinary civil court ».

He thus urged the court to order for the detainees to be flown back to Nigeria where their nationalites can be determined.

However, the Prosecutor Colonel Engono Thadée Constant raised an objection saying most of the accused have worked for the Cameroon Public Service for years and can not today deny their Cameroonian nationality.

He cited various means where loss of nationality can be applied but said the Ambazonia leaders do not fall under that category. Quoting Section 31(a) of the 1968 nationality code( Any Cameroon adult national who wilfully acquires or keeps a foreign nationality), he said the Ambazonia leaders still maintain their Cameroonian nationality.

He defended the decision to extradite the Ambazonia leaders to Cameroon claiming they pose a heavy security threat to Nigeria thus they can also not be returned.

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