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How eight Nigerians regain freedom after jail terms in Cameroon

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Eight Nigerians who served various jail terms in Cameroon, have regained their freedom. The Nigerian Consul General for The North West and South West Regions, H.E Ibrahim Bashir, in partnership with an eminent Nigerian, HRH EZE Thomas J Onyengubo, Eze Gburugburu 1 of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo in Cameroon, paid the fines to secure.

Speaking during the ceremony to welcome the former inmates of the Buea Central Prison, His Excellency Ibrahim Bashir charged the ex-convicts to be steadfast and correct the mistakes that took them to prison.

The diplomat advised that they must hold no grudges against the government of Cameroon or the system, but to focus on rebuilding their lives.

“I hope they are not going to hold any grudges against the government or the system. They were there to be corrected. They have reflected over their offences during their stay in the correctional facility. They promised here by lifting up their right hands that they are going to be better than they were before their incarceration,” Bashir said.

The eight persons who were freed include: Ene Okon, Francis Eyo, Nsisong Udoh, Nsika Okon, David Okon Joseph, Kabiru alias Harap, Nkweriwem Edet and Samuel Johnson.

The release of the Nigerian nationals, the Consul General said, was the out- come of joint efforts of his and other prominent Nigerians.

This move, he added, highlights the vision of the Nigerian government and the Consul General to ensure that all Nigerians in Cameroon, under whatever conditions, feel the presence of the Federal Government.

“The release of the eight is the product of weeks of back and forth with the prison officials. We put our resources together, partnered with a fellow Nigerian, HRH Eze Gburugburu, and we paid the fines for my fellow compatriots, some of who are young enough to be my kids, to regain freedom,” Bashir noted.

“They are all smiles and grateful to the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is a testimony of our determination and desire to reach out to Nigerian nationals in whatever circumstances they find themselves,” he added.

The beneficiaries of the noble gesture from the Nigerian government, through the Consul General, were challenged to avoid anything that may cause them to go back to prison.

‘Become force for good in your communities’ the traditional ruler of Nigerians in Cameroon, Eze Jonathan Gburugburu I of Ohaneze, said, adding:  ”Remember Nelson Mandela spent years in prison and later became the President of South Africa. You people have to make a positive change. We hope to have you people as important personalities.”

He hinted  that the former inmates would  be transported to their various communities in Nigeria  where they will meet their parents and reflect on what they want to do from now on. “The Nigerian Consul General, in collaboration with other Nigerians in Cameroon, will bear the expenses of their trip back to Nigeria.”

The former inmates thanked the Consul General for not forgetting them. One of them, Nsisong Udoh, advised his peers not to do anything that would land them in prison again.

“I have been in prison and I have become a changed person. There is nothing that can take me go there again. I thank the Consul General for not letting us down, and for always coming there to visit us. I want to advise my friends out there that they should avoid anything in their life that can take them to prison,” Nsisong said.

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3 million children at risk in Sudan as civil war engulfs – U.N

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The war between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces has killed 12,190 people, according to conservative estimates by the Armed Conflict Locations and Events Data project. It has displaced 5.4 million people inside the country, according to the UN, and sent over 1.3 million fleeing abroad.

Sudan’s raging civil war threatens the lives of almost 3 million children, the United Nations Children’s Fund said Thursday, as fighting imperils what had become a haven for hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

Fighting in the huge northeastern African nation has now reached Jazeera state, the country’s breadbasket with a population of 5.9 million people — half of whom are children, UNICEF said.

« This new wave of violence could leave children and families trapped between fighting lines or caught in the crossfire, with fatal consequences, » the organization’s executive director, Catherine Russell, said in a statement Thursday.

The latest about of violence broke out on April 15, as Sudan’s military and a powerful paramilitary force vied for power. Since then, heavy fighting has left hundreds of thousands of people facing the agonizing decision of whether to flee their homes or stay and risk injury or death in the violence. Cease-fires have failed to halt the power struggle and fueled the growing humanitarian crisis.

Civilians are often caught up in the crossfire as neighborhoods are divided between the armed forces, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces, led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

Some 9,000 people have been killed in the violence, according to the U.N., but local doctors groups and activists say the death toll is likely far higher.

Almost 300,000 people have fled Jazeera state, moving to the nearby Sennar state, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Wednesday.

 

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‘Nothing for me in Cameroon’: Waiting in Tunisia, one eye on Europe

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Having lost everything and everyone precious to him, Joseph tries to hold things together, waiting to leave Africa.

Joseph Afumbom is a big man who has faced unimaginable tragedy.

The conflict in Cameroon between Anglophone separatists and the government killed the 27-year-old’s mother, father and siblings. It also took his home in Bamenda in the country’s northwest.

“I was there when the war started. The war took everyone,” he said, “It was three years ago. My brothers and sisters are all gone.”

With his home and family destroyed and no jobs available, Joseph felt he had no option but to gather his fiancee, Esther, and their three-year-old daughter and travel the 5,000km (more than 3,000 miles) overland to the Mediterranean coast. They arrived in Algeria, where they considered crossing into Tunisia and from there to Europe.

However, both Joseph’s fiancee and daughter died in El Menia. “They are all gone because of the cold,” he says. “That was last month.”

“I’m just trying to act normal, you know,” he tells Al Jazeera. “See, I’m smoking. I’m whiling away my thinking, trying to act like a normal person, but I’m not.”

He paused, allowing his thoughts to drift back. “We had been together for years. My daughter was three. I called her ‘Little Joy’.”

Eventually, Joseph crossed into Tunisia, making his way to the coastal city of Sfax before travelling by shared taxis to the capital, Tunis. He didn’t eat for two days.

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“There is nothing left for me in Cameroon,” he says. “I will continue to Europe if I have the opportunity.”

This article is the third of a five-part series of portraits of refugees from different countries, with diverse backgrounds, bound by shared fears and hopes as they enter 2024. Read the first and second parts here.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Chad: Supreme court approves ‘yes’ referendum vote

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Chad’s Supreme Court definitively validated the results of the referendum for a new constitution organized by the military junta that has been in power for the past two and a half years, a key step intended to pave the way for elections in the country at the end of 2024.

According to the final results, the « yes » side won with 85.90% of the vote, while the « no » side won 14.10%, with a turnout of 62.8%, the president of the Supreme Court told a press conference.

For some members of the opposition and civil society, the result of this ballots a plebiscite resembles designed to pave the way for the election of the transitional president, General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno.

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Bloc Fédéral, an opposition coalition which had called for the results to be annulled on the grounds of several irregularities in the voting process.

The opposition, which had widely called for a boycott, denounced, in the words of Max Kemkoye, president of the Groupe de concertation des actors politiques (GCAP), « a second coup d’état by Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno », in the face of results which, in his view, were not credible.

The new constitutional text is not very different from the one already in force, and still gives great power to the Head of State.

Mahamat Déby, 37, was proclaimed transitional president by the army on April 20, 2021, at the head of a junta of 15 generals, following the death of his father Idriss Déby Itno, who was killed by rebels on his way to the front. Idriss Déby Itno had ruled the country with an iron fist for over 30 years.

The young general immediately promised elections after an 18-month transition period, and made a commitment to the African Union not to run. Eighteen months later, his regime extended the transition by two years and authorized him to stand in the presidential elections scheduled for late 2024.

On the anniversary of the 18-month transition, October 20, 2022, between 100 and more than 300 young men and teenagers were shot dead in N’Djamena by police and military, according to the opposition and national and international NGOs.

They were demonstrating against the two-year extension of the presidential term.

More than a thousand were imprisoned before being pardoned, but dozens were tortured or disappeared, according to NGOs and the opposition.

 

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