In December 2014, Fomusoh Ivo, Levis and Nivelle were arrested for sharing a forwarded message on the Boko Haram group in the Far North Region of Cameroon.
The message reads: “Boko Haram recruits young people from 14 years old and above. Conditions for recruitment: 4 subjects at GCE, including religion”.
The boys from the Anglophone regions of Cameroon with their lead defence team, insisted they simply forwarded the “text message but were never its author”.
Three years later, they were later sentenced to 10 years in prison each following months of trial at the Yaounde military court for undermining state security, hostility against the state, treachery among other charges.
Arguments that the message meant no harm, but intended to highlight the difficulty in finding a job in the country were ignored by government.
Recently, there have been renewed calls on social media for their release. One of those at the forefront of the campaign is Ilaria Allegrozzi, Senior Researcher for Human Rights Watch. Ilaria says their release should be immediate and unconditional.
“Their lawyer filed an appeal to Supreme Court. This case is not only sad, it is a scandal. They should be immediately released” Ilaria states on twitter.
Reacting to the campaign, Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Christopher Fomunyoh says meeting the boys during a visit to the Kondengui prison in Yaoundé in 2018 was heart-wrenching.
To him, it is “unbelievable that some leaders think one can build a State by loosing our humanity. By all accounts, we are loosing it by the day. sad!”
Barrister Agbor Balla is one of the thousands of leaders and citizens arrested and jailed in connection with the ongoing Anglophone crisis.
The Head of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA spent close to a year at the Kondengui maximum security prison where the boys are held.
He describes their case as “a classical example of miscarriage of justice.”
“I spent 8 months at the Kondengui principal prison with this innocent and wonderful boys”, Barrister Agbor Balla testifies.
Back in 2017 when over 300,000 people signed a petition calling for the release of the three boys.
Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director, Alioune Tine said “these students have done nothing more than share a private joke, but their conviction and sentence could see them spend a decade behind bars and destroy their future prospects. They continue to languish in prison facing an unclear fate.”
Their ankle chains were not removed for four months, and it was only after their lawyer made a request to the investigating judge in April 2015, Amnesty International revealed.
Mimi Mefo Info