Cameroon: Mbororo Land Campaigners Freed

March 31, 2004

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Three men from the Mbororo herding people of northwest Cameroon, imprisoned by a military tribunal, were freed on March 23 2004 by the Court of Appeal in North-West Cameroon, which found them not guilty of possessing and using firearms during a protest, and quashed their sentence of ten years' imprisonment.

When Ousman Haman, Isa Adamou and Yunusa Mbaghoji, were arrested in April 2002, they were trying to defend communal grazing lands belonging to the Mbororo community in the North-West Province of Cameroon. Behind the arrests was Alhadji Baba Ahmadou Danpullo, multi-millionaire rancher and international businessman with connections to the highest levels of power. He has been harassing the Mbororo for 16 years, determined to control them and their land. Ousman Haman was arrested while filming a disputed area of land, and witnesses said he was taken to one of Baba Ahmadou's ranches, where he was flogged as Baba Ahmadou watched.

The judge ruled that the land in question belongs to the Mbororo, and that Baba Ahmadou was trespassing. This defeat suggests that his power is beginning to fail.

Survival had lobbied the Cameroon authorities, the Commonwealth and the British government on the prisoners' behalf. The Mbororo organisation MBOSCUDA said after the verdict, ’We send our special thanks to Survival for your wonderful and tireless efforts'