A Nigerian<link rel=”amphtml” href=”http://example.com/amp/news”> court has condemned as “ illegal and unconstitutional ” the arrest and deportation of Cameroonian separatists who had applied for asylum in Nigeria , the lawyers representing them said on Sunday.
In January 2018, Nigeria arrested and deported 47 anglophone separatists who had fled Cameroon following a crackdown by the authorities .
The move was denounced by UNHCR , the UN refugee agency , which said most of them had filed asylum claims and accused Nigeria of breaching international agreements.
“ Justice Chikere declared the arrest and detention of the 12 applicants illegal , ” said a statement from Nigerian law firm Falana & Falana , referring to a ruling issued this week in the capital Abuja .
“ Consequently , Justice Chikere declared the deportation of the applicants illegal and unconstitutional , awarded N 200 , 000 ( $ 550 , 320 euros ) to each of them and ordered the federal government to ensure that they are brought back to Nigeria forthwith . ”
Among the 12 claimants was separatist leader Julius Sisiku Ayuk Tabe , president of the self – declared “ Republic of Ambazonia ” , who was arrested along with his supporters on January 9 by Nigerian intelligence agents .
The group was sent back to Cameroon on January 26, and Ayuk Tabe was put on trial for “ terrorism ” in December at a military court in Yaounde , Cameroon ’ s capital .
At the hearing , defence lawyer Femi Falana argued that the arrest and detention of refugees and asylum seekers constituted a breach of Nigeria ’ s constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The judge agreed , saying the expulsion of the group was in “ utter violation” of legal obligations which ban Nigeria “ from expelling or deporting refugees ” from the country .
And he ordered the government to ensure they were brought back to Nigeria , and that their fundamental rights be respected.
Since their deportation , the 47 have been held in secret at a high – security facility at police headquarters in Yaounde .
Clashes between the armed forces and separatists take place almost daily in the two Anglophone regions on the western flank of Cameroon , where resentment at perceived marginalisation by the French-speaking majority boiled over into an armed uprising in late 2016 , prompting a harsh government crackdown .