Ambazonian Leaders Seek Assistance Over Worsening Refugees Crises
The leader of the interim government of the self-declared region of Ambazonia, popularly known as Southern Cameroon, Dr Sam Sako Ekome has called on the well-meaning Africans to help in alleviate the worsening conditions of thousands of Ambazonian refugees scattered across some states in Nigeria, while reiterating that his people are in no way a security threat to the peace and unity of Nigeria.
Dr. Ekome made the call during a recent virtual media parley, which had key members of his cabinet and some Nigerian journalists in attendance.
According to the Ambazonian leader, his English-speaking people in present Cameroon has 1.6 million internally displaced persons in Nigeria, by the last count in 2020, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) records indicate that 83,000 Ambazonian refugees have been registered.
He stated that his people who are in the Southern Cameroon have been stuck fighting an existential war since 2017 when its interim leader was unlawfully tried and sentenced to life imprisonment, following their calls for dialogue with French Cameroon.
The fighting has resulted in thousands of people from Ambazonia running away from their homeland to seek refuge in Nigeria particularly in Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Taraba States.
While commending the governments of those three States for harbouring his people, amid cordial relationship, the Ambazonian leader however expressed regretted that many of his people are being intimidated by Nigerian security and immigration authorities which keep insisting on presentation of valid papers, while some are detained on allegations of being a security threat to Nigeria.
“We are no threat to Nigeria, but peace-loving neighbours who seek refuge. All we ask is for the Nigerian government and authorities to show some love to our people in your country. They are refugees and as such do not have documentation you ask for, but they need your love,” Ekome stated.
Speaking further on the cause his people are fighting, the Ambazonian leader explained that they are not trying to secede from Cameroon as being misinterpreted by many in Nigeria and beyond but theirs is already a recognised sovereign state.
“If it is true that we joined Cameroon, it means we attained independence. We have co-existed this long with Cameroon, but if the union has become problematic, does Southern Cameroon lose its independence as a result? The answer is no. If it is agreed that our union with Cameroon was not a treaty union as contemplated by the United Nations charter, why are we obliged to remain in a de facto union where we have been treated as slaves for the last 60 years?” Ekome asked.
He alleged that all they requested was a dialogue that resulted in the war they are fighting today.
According to him, the “French Cameroon declared war on us in 2017 because we asked for genuine dialogue about the foundation of this failed experiment. Instead of engaging us in dialogue as it’s prescribed by the United Nations Human Rights court in Banjul, Gambia, they declared a brutal war on us.
“They have slaughtered us like animals since 2017 and they have killed more than 30,000 of our innocent people including mothers and children. As I speak, every minute at least 10 people are being slaughtered. They have burned 500 plots of our villages and settlements. This is the worst genocide that is ongoing in the world today that is underreported. Nigeria is our neighbour and the giant of Africa, and I would like investigations done to substantiate these claims,” Ekome claimed.
He added; “We are not breaking somebody’s country because ours is a legitimate fight. If we have the right to join, then that right to join also includes the right to go our separate ways, especially where there is not even an agreement binding the two sides.
“We have co-existed this long with Cameroon, but if the union has become problematic, does Southern Cameroon lose its independence as a result? The answer is no. If it is agreed that our union with Cameroon was not a treaty union as contemplated by the United Nations charter, why are we obliged to remain in a de facto union where we have been treated as slaves for the last 60 years?” he asked.
Meanwhile, in May, a Memorandum of Understanding was reportedly signed by a supposed leader of the Ambazonia Governing Council, Dr Cho Ayuba, and Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB with an alliance between the two separatist groups fighting for their own independent nation to join forces to break up the countries where they believed are marginalising them.
Speaking on the reported alliance with IPOB and Kanu, its controversial leader, Ekome dissociated Ambazonia Interim Government from any of such illicit alliance which he said is hurting more his people.
“We are not in any alliance with IPOB. So, somebody is telling a lie which is costing us so much in the suffering of our people in Nigeria. Nigeria should continue to treat our refugees according to international law; they are desperate, hungry, without shelter, without education, and without hope. Please, in the name of God, continue to treat them with love and care. They are not security threats to the territorial integrity or security of the nation of Nigeria, and they will not be,” Ekome assured.
It would be recalled that in early 2018, the Nigerian government arrested many leaders of Ambazonia at a hotel in Abuja, deported and handed them over to the Cameroonian government where a military court sentenced them to life imprisonment for rebellion against the state including Mr. Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, their leader. Since then there has been an interim government led by Ekome.