The detainees were largely held incommunicado, which includes denial of access to their lawyers, doctors and family members.

However, the deputy representative of the office of United Nations Commissioner for Refugees to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Brigitte Mukanga-Eno, was allowed to visit them in detention last week, their lawyer Femi Falana said.

The treatment prompted the lawyer to file a fundamental rights suit to enforce the rights of their clients.

The Buhari administration was criticised for arresting the leaders in a defiant departure from Nigeria’s longstanding policy of being sympathetic towards freedom fighters.

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Nigeria was widely praised for its support for the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

Falana said that the Nigerian government is ashamed to announce the deportation, which is being celebrated by Cameroonian authorities as a major victory in their clampdown on Tabe and other leaders of the self-proclaimed Ambasonia state in English-speaking parts of Cameroon.

About 39 other Ambasonian separatist leaders who were detained in Taraba were also reported to have been sent back to Cameroon on Friday by the Nigerian government.

Cameroonian authorities said they have the men and vowed to put them through a thorough trial for their alleged offences.

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