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Cameroonian refugees rebuff planned relocation from Cross River

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Governor Ayade. Photo: IREPORTNEWS

Plan protest, say ‘we’re comfortable in Nigeria’

The over 36,000 Cameroonian refugees in Cross River have opposed purported plans by their home government to relocate them to the Francophone nation’s beleaguered South West region that is seeking independence.

They have also rejected the planned visit of the region’s governor to the South South state in that respect, insisting that the move was a breach of international law.

Consequently, the refugees led by Simon Fuh Ngwa (ID Card No. 720-00004985) and Arrey Arrey Samuel (ID Card No. 720-00009049) in a letter entitled ‘The Coordination of Cameroonian Refugees in Calabar and Environs’ dated August 11, 2020 and addressed to the Commissioner of Police, sighted yesterday in Calabar, read: “We have the honour to come before your high office to apply for an authorisation to stage a peaceful protest in Calabar and other refugee settlements within Cross River State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This peaceful march is to protest against a planned visit of a delegation of Cameroun government officials to be led by the Governor of South West region of Cameroun, Bernard Okalia Bilai, to Camerounian refugees in Nigeria.”

They claimed that in a meeting with Ayade, on Friday, August 7, 2020, “the Cameroonian Consul General in Calabar lied to Governor Ben Ayade that peace has returned to the warring territory in Cameroun and that reconstruction work for the rehabilitation of the refugees had commenced. On the contrary, the ruthless soldiers of French Cameroon have intensified the genocide and burning down of whole villages in a bid to demoralise the population from upholding their resolve for their right to self-determination as enshrined in the United Nations Trusteeship Agreement.”

The petitioners added that the purpose of the peaceful march was to alert the Nigerian authorities and the international community that they were comfortable and very much at home in Nigeria, and would have nothing to do with French Cameroun. “More so, any visit to us will be in violation of international law and the UN Geneva Convention of 1951 on the rights and duties of refugees.”

Also speaking on the development, a rights activist, Odey Oyama, in a memorandum to the state governor dated August 12, 2020, condemned the proposed trip, stating: “It appears to contain some elements of breach of diplomatic protocol. In my view, such a visit ought to be planned and organised between the Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon in Abuja and the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja.”

He, therefore, advised Governor Ayade to seek diplomatic guidance on the matter.


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