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Cameroon: Rights lawyer calls for the release of three students arrested over a Boko Haram joke

Human Rights Lawyer Agbor Nkongho has called for the release of Ivo and his friends arrested in 2014 over a Boko Haram joke. 

“I call on the government of Cameroon to release Fomusoh Ivo Feh and his friends Afuh Nivelle Nfor and Azah Levis Gob and to pay them reparation for the violation of their fundamental human rights,” he shared in a Facebook post. 

Almost 7 years after their arrest over a Boko Haram joke three students Ivo, Nivelle and Lewis are still in Jail. 

They were arrested in December 2014, after one student, Fomusoh Ivo Feh, forwarded a text message he received to his friend, Afuh Nivelle Nfor. The message said: “Boko Haram recruits young people from 14 years old and above. Conditions for recruitment: 4 subjects at GCE, including religion.”

Nfor, in turn, sent the message to a third student, Azah Levis Gob. A teacher, who confiscated the phone, saw the text and contacted police, who arrested them. The trio were transferred to a prison in Yaoundé, in January 2015, with their legs chained at the ankles, Amnesty International said.

The text was intended as a comment on the difficulty of finding a good job without being highly qualified, the joke being that even Boko Haram won’t recruit without good exam results, according to the guardian. 

They were charged with “attempted insurgency against the Cameroonian state” and “failure to denounce” acts of terrorism and sentenced to jail for 10 years. 

Agbor Nkongho says the “anti-terrorism law which is very ineffective and highly flawed.”

“While in jail at the Principal Prison in kondengui, I spent time with Ivo, Nivelle and Levis. Despite the prison conditions, they remain strong in spirit. Like their peers, these children deserve to focus on their university studies, not suffering from the consequences of a flawed anti-terrorism law,” the human rights lawyer said. 

His call came after Le jour, a Cameroon daily reported the fight against terrorism with the caption “Seven years in prison over a Boko Haram Joke” this morning. 

Le Jour’s Front Page, Tuesday January, 26

Ivo, Nivelle and Lewis have now spent more than 6 years in detention. The matter is still pending at the Supreme Court. 

Amnesty International says over 310 000 people across the globe, including former Cameroonian football striker Patrick Mboma, wrote to President Paul Biya asking him to free the three young men,  yet they remain in prison.

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