The President of Ambazonia speaks, among other things, about the circumstances of his arrest in Nigeria in 2018 and talks about the Swiss mediation announced in the context of the crisis in the North West and South West regions.
Can we know who Ayuk Tabe is, who is presented as president of the Republic of Ambazonia?
I am indeed Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, President of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, former British Southern Cameroons. I am a training engineer.
Before my kidnapping, I was vice president at the American University in Nigeria (Aun), based in Yola, Adamawa State. Prior to all this, I was Deputy Director of CISCO and one of the Regional Directors of this large multinational, overseeing 24 countries.
But at the beginning of my professional life, I worked at AES Sonel at high levels. I did my primary and secondary education at Mamfe. Then I went to Great Britain where I got my engineering degree.
You are “Sisiku”, an honorary title of the department of Manyu.
Can we know in which condition (s) you acquired it, since when do you wear it and what does it represent?
Without a doubt, I am Sisiku. A traditional title of the company Ekpe. This honorary award was conferred on me in 2015 thanks to my philanthropic activities. This represents a mark of responsibility as a member of Manyu’s traditional ruling caste.
You have been detained here in Yaoundé, with several companions, since January 2018.
What does your daily life look like? How do you live in prison?
I am currently a political detainee at Kondengui’s main prison in Yaoundé with nine other members of my government. They are Shufai Blaise Sevidzem Berinyuy, Prof Cheh Augustine Awasum, Dr. Kimeng Henry, Dr. Nde Che Fidelis, Dr. Njikimbi Cornelius Kwanga, Dr. Egbe Ogork, Nfor Ngala Nfor, Tassang Wilfred Fombang and Me Eyambe Elias Ebai.
We were taken here to Kondengui Main Prison from the State Secretariat for Defense (Sed) on November 22, 2018. The cells are routinely open at 07:00 and closed at 18:30 every day. The info clear and sharp.
We Ambazonians start our day with a collective meditation session followed by breakfast and sports.Then a little reading of books that we bought. Then come the discussions and comments on the news.
Then board games like Scrabble and Chess. Followed by reflections on the construction of our nation, Ambazonia, and finally, we share a last meal towards the end of the afternoon.
How are you treated?
I have a good relationship with the penitentiary administration.Despite the fact that there are some prison guards who are very arrogant. It should be noted that we are fully nourished by our families and friends.
I have to say it here because occasionally we are weaned of food because the government commissioner refuses to give our families and friends timely communication permits.
There was a time when we started a hunger strike because of this and insufficient permits were issued. We are still calm, but for how long? God only knows.
What is your state of health?
My state of health before being transferred from Sed to this prison on November 22, 2018 had seriously deteriorated compared to the situation before my kidnapping in Nigeria.
This because at the Sed, we were in total isolation with no sunlight and cool air for about six months. But here in prison, we have the opportunity to sunbathe and breathe fresh air every day. In addition, we have access to a nurse and from time to time to a specialized doctor.
But our health remains worrying. We have here problems of prison overcrowding, insalubrity, bedbugs, insufficient lighting and running water intermittently.
In short, my condition can not be known until the day I leave here and will have the opportunity to see real specialists.
You say that the conditions of detention at Sed were very difficult. Can you tell us about this period?
I was detained at the Sed with nine other members of my government for 11 months.
The SED is the worst place on earth. We were in total insulation without ventilation, without window, with the door almost sealed.
We had just a place of 35×34 cm2 to breathe. Only a small corridor allowed access to our cells. The running water was of a very poor quality and even the water filter we were given did not give us satisfaction.
Do not even talk about bedbugs and the odious smell of paint. We were constantly mentally, psychologically and physically tortured. Phrases like “are you on a good trip?
Were our daily lot; to make us understand that there were only slaves in your country. The Cameroonian portal of Belgium.
They made us understand that we were going to be killed; and for that, weapons were permanently aimed at us. We did not have the right to pray or talk to each other. We were hooded, handcuffed and driven into dark corridors at midnight for endless interrogations at the absence of our lawyers.
During the periodic searches, we were traumatized by violations of our physical integrity. Unhealthy pressures of our testicles. Molestations disguised as total excavations of the cavities.
We were exposed to horrible cries, especially at night, other Ambazonians beaten by gendarmes.
At Sed, we did not have access to specialist doctors, as well as our families and lawyers for a period of six months. In truth, it was the most inhuman experience I had in my life, and I would not wish such a fate even to my worst enemy.
Can we have details about your arrest at a hotel in Nigeria on January 05, 2018?
An arrest that was followed by your extradition to Cameroon with 46 companions …
At around 5 pm on January 5, 2018, we met at the Nera Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria, to celebrate the new year after my return the United States.
While we were discussing generalities and the humanitarian crisis of Ambazonian refugees in Nigeria, a group of 20 heavily armed men approached us violently.
They pinned us to the ground, handcuffed, hooded and then taken to an unknown location without any explanation as to why we were kidnapped. They interrogated us for three days without revealing the reason for our presence in this gloomy place.
On January 18, 2018, they took us to a conference room where we met with members of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. That’s where we realized we were detained at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Nigeria’s military intelligence.
The members of this UN delegation informed us that we were there because of the Anglophone crisis and that in no way we will be handed over to the Cameroonian authorities since we are officially refugees enjoying the international protection that goes with it.Despite all these guarantees, on Thursday, January 25th, these soldiers handcuffed, hooded and transported us to the military wing of Nmandi Azikewe International Airport in Abuja and later, still with hoods, they introduced us to a plane.
Military cargo to Yaoundé without seats and seat belt. On arrival in Yaounde, still with hoods, they put us in a bus of 30 places in the direction of Sed under very strong military escort.
It should be noted that we were kidnapped 12 in Abuja, 37 in Taraba and 11 in the state of Cross River with among them a child of one year six months.
All were kidnapped in completely different circumstances.
What do you think of the situation in the North West and South West regions?
The balance sheet on this date is very sad. Refugees in Nigeria, internally displaced people in several parts of Cameroon, thousands of dead, etc.
The description of what is happening in Ambazonia today is nothing but genocide on the basis of international law.
Our people are not slaughtered for what he did, but for what he is. Considering the fact that Cameroonian officials called him “rats” and “dogs”.
There have been calls to exterminate Anglophones under the pretext that President Biya has the right to kill anyone for national unity. Our statistics show that more than 10,000 Ambazonians have been killed.
More than 120,000 refugees in Nigeria and other countries.Camer.be. More than one million IDPs. More than 3,000 prisoners of war.
Countless missing persons and more than 250 Ambazonian villages burned. Let it be clear, your naming of Northwest and Southwest regions is false, because in fact they are the Northern and Southern Zones of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.
We are an independent country and you can not reduce us to mere regions of your country.
What do you propose for the end of the crisis?
The solution to this crisis is related to international law, history and culture.
The deep root of this crisis is an uncompleted decolonization process that must be completed before a definitive solution can be found.
International law recognizes Southern Cameroons’ right to self-determination.Historically, the Republic of Cameroon had its independence on January 1, 1960, while Southern Cameroons had its own on October 1, 1961.
There has never been a treaty of union between these two separate countries as required international law.Specifically, Article 102 of the United Nations Charter.
With regard to culture, there are very few success stories of cohabitation between Anglo-Saxon people and Francophones.
The initial experience of the 1916 Franco-English Treaty was a resounding failure.
Are you ready for dialogue with the government of Cameroon? If so, what are your conditions?
Since 2017, we have been calling and saying that we are ready for dialogue to resolve this political problem. But for a frank dialogue to take place, one must obligatorily:
1) an end to the violence.
2) the withdrawal of the Cameroonian army.
3) the unconditional widening of all those arrested because of this crisis.
4) a truly neutral country or territory.
5) the presence of an impartial and neutral mediator.
It is said that you have been at a moment in talks with the Cameroonian government.Can you confirm it?
We have always been open to all approaches by the Government of the Republic of Cameroon.
It is he who is for the moment very shy.So far, we have only received the visit of the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms and we have clearly presented our positions because we believe that this commission is a branch of your government.
Apart from them, we also communicated a lot with the media through a document entitled “Proposals for Dialogue”.
In this document, we explain our position. We hope that the Government of the Republic of Cameroon takes this document seriously.
What do you think of the Swiss mediation announced?
Any intervention or mediation by a third party is welcome. But this mediator must be accepted by both parties under the supervision of the United Nations, of course.
What do you say about the meeting between President Paul Biya and secessionist leaders in Switzerland?
May I make this correction, we are restorationists and not secessionists, because we restore only our state of independent Ambazonia since October 1, 1961 while yours was independent on January 1, 1960. We can not secede from a union that does not exist.
To answer your question now, we are for a true, frank and open dialogue between Ambazonia and the Republic of Cameroon in the presence of the United Nations and other actors of this failed decolonization.
Who will represent the Cameroonian part interests us little. Because, our problem is with the president Paul Biya but with the Republic of Cameroon which colonized us.
What are your relationships with other secessionist leaders?
We have a common goal with all the other major movements of our independence struggle. It’s just our approaches that are different, which makes sense in a democratic society like Ambazonia. But we all have the same goal. The independence of our country.
What do you say about the confusion observed in the group of your lawyers?
The college of lawyers charged with defending us is totally committed to this task. Despite the illegality of our kidnapping in Nigeria and the numerous violations of national and international law by the Cameroonian judicial system.
John Nsoh, who led the collective, seems to have been sidelined by other boards. What is happening concretely?
Mr. John Nsoh was our lead counsel. But because of his behavior and his statements in violation of the principles which govern the noble profession of lawyer, he has recused himself of his quality of principal advice.
He is still a simple member of our group of lawyers.
Is he still leading the group of your lawyers? If not, who drives him now?
Because of his words and unorthodox behavior, Mr. John Nsoh having recused himself, it was normal for his assistant, Mr. Patrick Yong to take his place.
Can we know why you have, dissolved the interim government of Ambazonia?
The interim government of Ambazonia has never been dissolved. It is rather the cabinet that existed before January 5, 2018 which was updated. This was done to remobilize energies towards the main goal: the independence of our country, Ambazonia.
Are you still president of Ambazonia? Because he thinks you’re not anymore.
Yes, I am still the President of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.
What does the Federal Republic of Ambazonia refer to?
Our ultimate goal is to restore the independence of the Southern Cameroons which was granted by the UN in 1961.
For the United Nations Resolution Number 1608 of April 21, 1961 and Article 102 of the United Nations Charter aimed at to frame our union with your country, Cameroon, had not been implemented. This implies that Southern Cameroons has never legally been part of the Republic of Cameroon. Our present struggle aims only at restoring the independence of our country Ambazonia.
A word on the progress of your trial?
Our judgment at the Yaoundé Military Court is marked by great injustice and little consideration to national laws and international conventions yet voluntarily ratified by your country.
The proof is that a civilian must not be tried in a military court. But here we are in this exceptional court when we are civilians.
All our rights to fair justice have been violated, so we no longer hope for justice in this country.
Only nine out of 46 of your companions with whom you were arrested and extradited to Cameroon are concerned by the ongoing proceedings at the Military Court of Yaoundé.
Can we know where are the others? And who are they?
For your information, there were a total of 58 Ambazonians kidnapped in Nigeria and illegally transferred to Cameroon. We were 10 in my team, 37 from Taraba State, 11 from Cross River State with a child under 18 months old. The majority of these people are officially resident in Nigeria or political refugees.
As political refugees, we 10 of the Nera Hotel have been going to military court periodically for quite some time. Two others, also arrested in Nigeria, are also there. But to my knowledge, the rest is at the Yaoundé Central Prison and never went to court.
As I said earlier, we do not expect justice from the Cameroonian justice system given all the injustices we have suffered so far.
Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius is what nationality?
I was very clear about this even at the military court: We are Ambazonians. We have nothing in common with the Republic of Cameroon, which has cunningly and forcefully annexed us since 1961. But the moment of our liberation has finally come thanks to God.
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