Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe

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Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe
1st President of Ambazonia
In office
October 2017 – January 2018 (de facto)
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded bySamuel Ikome Sako
Personal details
Born (1965-05-02) 2 May 1965 (age 55)[1]
Kembong, Manyu Division[1]

Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe is an Ambazonian separatist leader, and the first president of the unrecognized Federal Republic of Ambazonia.[2]

Life before the Anglophone Crisis[edit]

Ayuk Tabe was born in 1965 in Kembong, Manyu Division, Southwest Region. For a while, he worked for an electric company named SONEL in the Adamawa Region of Cameroon, and as Academy Manager for Cisco Systems. Eventually he started working for the American University of Nigeria, where he became Assistant Vice President in the field of Digital Services, Marketing and Recruitment. Ayuk Tabe also worked as a motivational speaker at several conferences worldwide. His involvement in charity includes the establishment of the Ayuk Tabe Foundation in the town of Eyumodjock, where he and his wife Lilian lived, and his involvement with the Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative. Sisiku and his wife owned a farm in Eyumodjock that employed 28 people, but they were forced to shut down in September 2017 after Cameroonian soldiers drove away the workers.[1]


His presidency started with Ambazonia's unilateral declaration of independence on October 1, 2017, with Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front (SCACUF) forming the Interim Government of Ambazonia,[2] and Tabe - chairperson of SCACUF - as president.[3] By the time of this declaration, a separatist war between Ambazonian militias and Cameroonian security forces had been raging for three weeks. At first, Tabe and the Interim Government rejected the idea of an armed struggle, preferring instead to focus on civil disobedience and a diplomatic campaign to gain international recognition.[4]

After President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and other Ambazonian leaders were arrested in Nigeria and extradited to Cameroon in January 2018. Samuel Ikome Sako was announced interim president a month later.[5]

Detention, trial and life sentence[edit]

Following the arrest, Ayuk Tabe and the other separatist leaders spent 10 months at a gendarmerie headquarter, before being transferred to a maximum security prison in Yaoundé.[6] Their case started on December 6, 2018 at the Yaoundé military tribunal. When his name and nationality was read out, he rejected his Cameroonian nationality, and other separatist leaders followed suit.[7] The rejection of Cameroonian nationality led the case to be postponed.[8]

In January 2019, Tabe's lawyer said that his client was ready to negotiate directly with Cameroonian president Paul Biya, on the condition that the negotiations would take place outside Cameroon. Three preconditions were made: A ceasefire, the release of everyone who had been arrested, and a general amnesty. These conditions were repeated in May.[9]

In March 2019, a Nigerian court found his arrest and deportation illegal, and ordered that him and 68 others be returned to Nigeria and compensated.[10] Following this ruling, Tabe and fellow Ambazonian leaders issued a joint statement titled the "Ambazonia Freedom Protocol", in which they made nine commitments, including equality between tribes, equality for women, equal share of the riches of the land, respecting human rights, standing in solidarity with other peoples in a similar situation, and fighting for however long it takes to achieve independence.[11] On April 27, Tabe and the other nine accused Ambazonian leaders announced that they would start boycotting court sessions,[12] insisting to wait until the Appeal Court of the Centre Region decided on whether or not they should be returned to Nigeria.[13]

On May 2, a controversial document signed by Ayuk Tabe declared that the Sako-led interim cabinet had been dissolved, and that his own pre-arrest cabinet had been restored. The document expressed appreciation of the job the Sako-led cabinet had done since February 2018, but stressed that infighting had rendered it unfit to continue; the caretaker cabinet has lost the ability to reconcile our people and, in doing so, has imperiled the identity and mission of the interim government to complete the decolonization of Southern Cameroons through advancing our collective national interests.[14] However, the Sako-led cabinet refused to abide by the declaration, resulting in what became known as the Ambazonian leadership crisis. In June, the Ambazonia Restoration Council (a separatist movement dating back to the 1980's) impeached Ayuk Tabe for "treasonous misconduct", and declared that he no longer had a mandate to speak on behalf of the Interim Government.[15] The Ambazonia Governing Council, traditionally a rival of the Interim Government, condemned the impeachment and uncharacteristically threw its support behind Ayuk Tabe.[16]

At some point after his arrest, Tabe reached out to former SDF parliamentarian Wirba Joseph, asking him to assume leadership of the revolution. Wirba declined the request.[17]

On July 30, 2019, Sisiku and the nine other detained members of the Interim Government declared that they would go on a hunger strike over the disappearance of convicts at Kondenguin Central Prison and the Buea Central Prison. The hunger strike would last until their lawyers could verify the whereabouts of each disappeared convict. The strike started at midnight the same day.[18]

On August 20, Ayuk Tabe and the other nine leaders were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Yaoundé Military Tribunal.[19] Having expected this outcome, the separatists were singing in court while the sentence was pronounced.[20] A week later, a letter signed by Ayuk Tabe stated that the life sentences was not a setback for the separatist cause, but rather a "validation of (their) self-determination and claim to a sovereign and free Southern Cameroons".[21]

Ayuk Tabe dismissed the Major National Dialogue outright, stating that "[President] Paul Biya does not have the power to determine the fate of Ambazonia". He did, however, welcome the release of Maurice Kamto.[22]

In November 2019, pro-separatist sources reported that Sako and his supporters had changed Sako's title from Acting Interim President to President, aiming to permanently replace Ayuk Tabe even if the latter would ever be released.[23]

In January 2020, newly-arrived prisoners broke into the cells of Ayuk Tabe and the nine other Ambazonian leaders, stealing food and money. Ayuk Tabe and the others accused the prison administration of complicity through inaction, and claimed there was a conspiracy to threaten their lives.[24]

Private life[edit]

Sisiku Julius is married to Lilian Ayuk Tabe, and together they have four children.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Profile: Meet The Man, Sisiku Julius Ayuktabe, The Ambazonian Revolutionary Leader, Cameroon News Agency, Jan 21, 2019. Accessed Feb 1, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Cameroon Anglophone crisis: Major incidents over a deadly year (1), AfricaNews, Oct 1, 2018. Accessed Jan 13, 2019.
  3. ^ "Several killed in Cameroon as anglophones declare 'independent Ambazonia'". Euractiv. 2 October 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  4. ^ Cameroon: Anglophone Crisis - Dialogue Remains the Only Viable Solution, AllAfrica, Dec 7, 2017. Accessed Mar 9, 2019.
  5. ^ Just In-Dr Samuel Ikome Sako Is New Acting Interim President of The ‘Federal Republic of Ambazonia’, Cameroon News Agency, Feb 4, 2018. Accessed Apr 19, 2018.
  6. ^ Cameroon: Ambazonia leaders appear before judge at military tribunal, Journal du Cameroun, Nov 28, 2018. Accessed Jan 13, 2019.
  7. ^ Detained Ambazonia leaders reject Cameroonian nationality in court, Journal du Cameroun, Dec 6, 2018. Accessed Jan 13, 2019.
  8. ^ Case against Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, others suspended, Journal du Cameroun, Jan 10, 1019. Accessed Jul 8, 2019.
  9. ^ Cameroon: Ambazonian leader sets conditions for dialogue, Journal du Cameroun, May 28, 2019. Accessed Jul 8, 2019.
  10. ^ Cameroon: Nigerian Court orders return of Ambazonia leaders, Journal du Cameroun, Mar 1, 2019. Accessed Mar 1, 2019.
  11. ^ Cameroon: Detained Ambazonia leaders issue ‘freedom protocol’ from jail, Journal du Cameroun, March 5, 2019. Accessed Jul 8, 2019.
  12. ^ Cameroon: Detained Ambazonia leaders to boycott court sessions till further notice, Journal du Cameroun, Apr 27, 2019. Accessed Apr 27, 2019.
  13. ^ Cameroon: Ambazonia leaders ‘pressured’ to appear before Appeal court, Journal du Cameroun, May 16, 2019. Accessed May 17, 2019.
  14. ^ Cameroon: Detained Ambazonia leader dissolves ‘Interim Government’, Journal du Cameroun, May 2, 2019. Accessed Jul 8, 2019.
  15. ^ Cameroon: Confusion as detained Ambazonia leader impeached by peers, Journal du Cameroun, Jun 12, 2019. Accessed Jun 12, 2019.
  16. ^ Cameroon: Sepratist hardliners react after impechment of detained Ambazonia leader, Journal du Cameroun, Jun 12, 2019. Accessed Jun 12, 2019.
  17. ^ Crise anglophone : Un ancien député du SDF appelle les séparatistes à dire la vérité aux masses souffrantes, Le Bled Parle, Jul 4, 2019. Accessed Jul 4, 2019. (French)
  18. ^ Cameroon: Detained Ambazonia leaders to go on hunger strike over missing prisoners, Journal du Cameroun, Jul 30, 2019. Accessed Jul 30, 2019.
  19. ^ Cameroon: Detained Ambazonia leaders handed life sentence, Journal du Cameroun, Aug 20, 2019. Accessed Aug 20, 2019.
  20. ^ Cameroon anglophone separatist leader handed life sentence, The Guardian, Aug 20, 2019. Accessed Aug 20, 2019.
  21. ^ Cameroon: Life jail sentence is a major push to our restoration quest- Ambazonia leaders, Journal du Cameroun, Aug 26, 2019. Accessed Aug 27, 2019.
  22. ^ Cameroon:Detained Ambazonia leader rubbishes Major National Dialogue resolutions, Journal du Cameroun, Oct 10, 2019. Accessed Jan 27, 2020.
  23. ^ Dr. Sako sworn in as President of Ambazonia, Mimi Mefo Infos, Nov 30, 2019. Accessed Nov 30, 2019.
  24. ^ Jailed Ambazonia Leaders Fear For Their Lives, Cameroon News Agency, Jan 26, 2020. Accessed Jan 26, 2020.