The Abuja Act of Terror
By Yerima Kini Nsom
The brutal shoving into captivity of members of the Interim Government of the imaginary state of Ambazonia last week, is an ignominious act of terror.
Otherwise, it is an enigma that remains sardonic in an era of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Worse still, both Yaoundé and Abuja have maintained sealed lips, leaving room for so much speculation as to when, how and why Sisiku Tabe Ayuk and co are being detained.
On such a premise, it really does not matter what their crime is. The fact that Ayuk and his Ministers were whisked away under the cover of darkness by purported members of the Nigerian Secret Service is preposterous.
As if that was not enough, lawyers and family members of the captives have been denied access to where they are being detained.
Since no information has filtered out from official sources, the social media have been feeding the public with apparently real and very tall stories on the issue.
One of them is that the Nigerian Secret Service captured the Ambazonian Leader without the knowledge and consent of their Government. It is alleged that huge sums of the tax payers’ money made such a scam possible.
This version further holds that the Buhari administration was more or less embarrassed and is keeping the people in detention in order to ensure their safety.
Yet, the diplomatic love affair between Yaoundé and Abuja recently, stands out as a stark contradiction to this version. Late last year, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Cameroon pledged in an audience with President Biya that his Government will not tolerate secessionists on the Nigerian soil.
In November 2017, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, Rene Emmanuel Sadi, met with Nigerian Vice President in Abuja apparently to fast-back the arrest of the secessionists.
Earlier, Yaoundé had issued an international arrest warrant for Ayuk and the members of his cabinet. Before things got so complicated, it is reported that Yaoundé’s wish was that the captured leaders be shoved over to the city of seven hills for detention. One media house in Yaounde that is to the Anglophone Crisis what Radio Milles Collines was to the Rwandan Genocide, actually rejoiced that the Ambazonian leaders would summarily be executed.
The lack of an extradition agreement between the two countries might have stood on the way of such a wish.
By dint of International Law, the issue of international arrest warrant for Ayuk and co might just be a legal nullity.
International arrest warrants are against people who have run away from countries after committing common law crimes. Former ministers, Ambassa Zang and Essimi Menyi who have been accused of embezzling public funds, fall in this category.
In such a case, the international police, Interpol will be charged with the execution of the warrant anywhere in the globe.
An international arrest warrant for political issues in which people disagree with the Government on what form of the State should take, may not have any locus standi.
This explains why Nigeria is just too cautious with the arrested Cameroon Anglophone leaders in order not to burn its fingers.
That Ayuk and co should be prosecuted for fighting to divide the country as the authorities claim, is no problem. But, their arrest and the prosecution should follow due process.
Every arrest should be executed within the confines of due process of law and the respect of human dignity.
These are the virtues that will enable Yaounde to go to equity with clean hands. The principle of equity in law makes it clear that two wrongs do not make a right.
In the chronological sequence of every prosecution, the element of procedural law is primordial. Success in handling of any substantive matter depends on how well the procedure was applied.
Thus, the violation of procedure can only lead to a miscarriage of the law and a travesty of justice.
Any person, group of persons or a corporate entity that does not respect the rule of law, no longer has the moral authority to gainsay even the worst criminal on earth.
For it is better to let criminals off the hook of justice than violate the law and abuse their rights in the process of prosecution.
The grounding here is that even if every condition were favourable, the arrest of the so-called secessionist leaders will not be in the interest of the peace that our dear country needs at this moment. That is why news of that cruel deed hit the country with the rage of a furious tornado. It left the atmosphere, especially in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, thick with recriminations and curses about such a development.
Few, very few pro-establishment mercenaries and political conmen have been basking in the heat of triumphalism.
Many are those who are unduly taking credit for the kidnap. For one thing, the arrest of Anglophone leaders cannot be good news to any Cameroonian who wants the country to be in peace.
Their arrest cannot be the “be-all and end-all” of the Anglophone Crisis”. It can only be naivety for anyone to believe that Ayuk’s arrest will smother the hydra-headed Interim Government. It rather forebodes an ominous atmosphere pregnant with frustration, rage and uncertainty.
The peace that we badly need to pursue our development challenges can only come through dialogue and not through arrest of leaders, and the rumbling of machines guns in Manyu.
Thus, Government should roll the drums of victory only after it would have successfully talked the secessionists out of their extremist option of dividing the country due to bad governance.
Military dictatorship on citizens with different opinions cannot lead us to emergence in 2035.
The killing of civilians and soldiers has triggered a dangerous digression from focus on the Anglophone Problem.
Were it not of senseless intransigence and arrogance, Government would have handled the grievances of the Anglophones without driving the country to chaos.
So, dialogue, dialogue and dialogue Cameroonians want.