Nigeria Lawyer Demands Release of Cameroon Secessionist Leaders

Femi Falana in 2014.

Photographer: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Image

The lawyer for the leaders of a Cameroonian secessionist movement who are being held in custody in Nigeria asked for their immediate release, saying the activists can’t be returned to Cameroon because the two countries don’t have an extradition treaty.

The leaders were arrested in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Jan. 6 by the State Security Service and have been held at an undisclosed location since, according to an emailed statement signed by their lawyer, Femi Falana, on Thursday. The State Security Service has denied knowledge of the “abduction,” Falana said in the statement. Calls to Nigeria’s presidency and foreign ministry weren’t immediately answered.

Among those held are Julius Ayuk Tabe, who has proclaimed himself president of the area in Cameroon that the secessionist movement refers to as Ambazonia, and Fidelis Ndeh-Che, the chairman of one of Nigeria’s biggest independent investment banks, Afrinvest.

Protests in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions last year prompted the creation of a movement that’s demanding secession from the French-speaking majority. Cameroon President Paul Biya has called the movement’s leaders terrorists.

— With assistance by Yinka Ibukun, and Elisha Bala-Gbogbo

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