Monday, July 8, 2019

Anglophone Crisis: Trial Of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, Nine Other Ambazonia Leaders Continues On July 9

Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius and nine others arrested in Nigeria early last year are expected to appear before the Yaounde Military Court Tuesday, July 9, 2019 as their trial resumes.

The Military Court in Yaounde had on June 19 adjourned the case against the detained Ambazonia leaders to July 9, pending the delivery of a verdict from the Appeal Court, which verdict upheld the decisions of the lower courts.

The 10 accused Ambazonian leaders, namely; Julius Ayuk Tabe, Dr. Fidelis Che, Dr. Egbe Ogock, Prof. Augustine Awasum, Barrister Shufai Blaise S. Berinyuy, Wilfred Tassang, Cornelius Kwanga, Nfor Ngala Nfor and Barrister Elias Eyambe Ebai will appear in court against the people of Cameroon.

During the case that opened at 12.15pm, the Judge, in the presence of the two assessors, said he had received a recusal and that, by law, he is not supposed to continue the matter until a decision from the Appeal Court hears the recusal and passes a ruling.

The defence bench had filed a recusal against the Judge and the assessors for being partial in hearing the matter, rather than being neutral as stipulated by the law. However, the Judge, for the very first time, spoke in English adjourning the case to July 9.

On June 19 when the accused appeared it court, it was a moment for them to celebrate the birthday of one of theirs, Barrister Eyambe. Birthday songs were chanted in the courtroom to the surprise of many.

On February 20, 2019, the presiding Judge had given a contradictory ruling indicating that the accused persons were of Cameroonian nationality, and at the same time having refugees and asylum seekers status, but insisted that they will be tried in Cameroon.

The defence counsel immediately filed an appeal against the ruling at the Yaoundé Court of Appeal, that their clients should be returned to Nigeria since they were arrested and extradited illegally.

Even though the Judge had attempted to continue with procedures, the defence lawyers had insisted and boycotted court sessions indicating that all proceedings at the Military Court should be halted in wait for the Court of Appeal to react as stated by the law.

The Appeal Court has however ruled that the trial should continue in Cameroon.

The Abuja Federal Court had earlier handed down a verdict requesting the Nigerian Government to bring back the Ambazonia leaders and pay damages. Nevertheless, the Cameroon Government is yet to react as the trial resumes.

The Ambazonia leaders were arrested on January 5, 2018, in Nigeria and extradited to Cameroon. They are answering many charges including terrorism and inciting violence, among other things.