Lagos lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate release of the detained Cameroonian freedom fighters.
He also cautioned against releasing the freedom fighters to Cameroonian President, Paul Biya, warning that “Since the federal government has not succeeded in completely defeating the dreaded Boko Haram sect it should not declare war on the people of Southern Cameroon and thereby further expose the displaced people of Bakassi to reprisal attacks”.
The Movement for the independence of Southern Cameroonians is clamouring for an independent Ambazonia State, which seeks to break away from the domination of the French-speaking Cameroon.
Seven of its leaders were arrested by the Department of State Services, DSS, on Friday in Abuja.
They are Sisiku Tabe, Nfor Ngala Nfor, Fidelis Che, Henri Kimeng, Cornielius Kwanga, a professor identified as Awasum and a lawyer, Nalowa Bih.
Reacting, Falana contended that the Attorney-General of the Federation also lacked the vires to initiate extradition proceedings under the Extradition Act (E25) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 for the extradition of the detained Cameroonian freedom fighters.
He insisted that the detainees were entitled to reside or visit Nigeria without any molestation .
“To that extent, the federal government has no power whatsoever to hand them over to President Paul Biya. The detained Cameroonian freedom fighters deserve to be released unconditionally from the unlawful custody forthwith.
“Instead of using the SSS to fight the proxy war of President Paul Biya the federal government should direct the SSS and other security forces to collaborate with the Nigeria Police Force to fish out the criminal elements that have unleashed mayhem on the people of Benue State”, he said.
Falana argued that since the Cameroonians entered Nigeria legitimately their arrest and detention by the federal government cannot be justified under the law.
“As Africans the detainees are entitled to the human rights to personal liberty, freedom of association and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution.
“Furthermore, their unquestionable and inalienable right to self determination is protected by Article 20 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which has been ratified by both Nigeria and Cameroon.
“Having failed to crush the ideas which recently led to the demand for the State of Biafra by the members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), the federal government should not attempt to provoke the marginalized people of Southern Cameroon by frustrating their legitimate demand for an independent state of Ambazonia,” he added.