Hundreds of Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria spent Thursday celebrating October 1, the day the former British Southern Cameroons gained independence 59 years ago.
The refugees who have been in Nigeria since the conflict in Cameroon turned violent in 2017 were pictured chanting independence songs and vowing they will only return when “their independence must have been restored”.
Since they crossed into Nigeria as refugees, no official delegation has visited them though the return of Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria was one of the major recommendations of the Major National Dialogue.
In August, Cameroon’s Consul General in Calabar, informed local authorities of the intention of the Governor of the South West Region, Bernard Okalia Bilai to visit Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria though he did not give a timeframe.
However, the Nigeria Ambazonia Refugee Movement, a rights group defending the interests of the refugees called on Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to call off such visit, claiming it poses a threat on the refugees.
“Therefore, peace has not returned to Southern Cameroon, we have not gotten to a stage where visits, the type proposed by the Cameroonians can be exchanged to ascertain the welfare of the refugees or demand their return home,” the Executive Director of the NARM, Hon Cletus Obun said at a press conference in August.
“Peace has not returned to Southern Cameroon, we have not gotten to a stage where visits, the type proposed by the Cameroonians can be exchanged to ascertain the welfare of the refugees or demand their return home.
“Some of our demands include that the visit is called off, as it breaches international standards of diplomacy and protocols and that the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs should summon the ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon and demand the rationale behind his breach of protocol.