A military court in Cameroon has jailed ten separatist leaders from the English-speaking region for life.
A leader of Cameroon’s separatist movement, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe is among the ten people jailed for life.
He and nine of his followers were given life sentences by the military court in the capital, Yaoundé.
They were convicted of rebellion, complicity in terrorism, financing terrorism, revolution, insurrection, hostility against the state, propagation of fake news and lack of identification.
Their lawyers accused the judge of bias and withdrew from the proceedings.
The defendants were arrested in Nigeria in January 2018 and deported back to Cameroon.
The court also ordered the 10 to pay a fine of $422m (250bn CFA francs) to the government for civil damages and 12bn CFA francs for court costs.
The push for independence
Tabe has been pushing for Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions to break away from the francophone country.
On October 1, 2017 the breakaway movement issued a symbolic declaration of independence for “Ambazonia”.
President Paul Biya fiercely opposes secession and has met the agitation with a crackdown, including curfews, raids and restrictions on travel.
Thousands of civilians have been caught up in the cross fire. That has resulted in casualties with some 200,000 people fleeing their homes.
Many of them have fled into Nigeria as refugees due to the conflict.
Anglophones in Cameroon make up about a fifth of the country’s population of 22 million. But they complain of marginalisation in the hands of the French-speaking majority.
The anglophone minority dates to the emergence of Cameroon in 1960-61, as France and Britain end their colonial dominance in west Africa.