Cameroon: Release of students sentenced for 10 years for sharing joke on Boko Haram is a great relief

Following the release of three Cameroonian students sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in jail for sharing a sarcastic text message that referenced Boko Haram, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director, said:

“The release of Fomusoh Ivo Feh, Afuh Nivelle Nfor, and Azah Levis Gob, three young men who were absurdly punished for simply sharing a joke on their mobile phones is a great relief.

We are delighted that they have been released over the weekend and were finally able to reunite with their families after seven long years behind bars.

Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director

“All those who have tirelessly campaigned for their release, including the more than 300 000 people across the globe who wrote in 2016 to President Paul Biya asking him to end this injustice, were also delighted that they are finally free.

“These three students who were only exercising their right to freedom of expression should never have been arrested in the first place. Cameroon’s authorities should protect human rights and ensure all people can speak freely without fear of reprisal.”
Fomusoh Ivo Feh, Afuh Nivelle Nfor, and Azah Levis Gob, three students who had been handed a 10-year jail sentence on 2 November 2016 by a military court which convicted them for “non-denunciation of terrorist-related information” have left the prison over the weekend. 

This follows the 16 December 2021 supreme Court ruling to reduce their sentence from 10 to five years in jail, which they have already spent.

According to their lawyer, Victorine Chantal Edzengte, the Court upheld the charges of “non-denunciation of terrorist-related information’’ against them but quashed the 10-year sentence.

In December 2014, Fomusoh Ivo Feh received a text message from a friend, saying: “Boko Haram recruits young people from 14 years old and above. Conditions for recruitment: 4 subjects at GCE, including religion”.

His friend’s message was intended as a comment on the difficulty of finding a good job without being highly qualified – joking that even the armed group Boko Haram won’t recruit you without good exam results.

Ivo forwarded the message to Afuh Nivelle Nfor, who sent it to Azah Levis Gob. One of their teachers saw the text, having confiscated the phone, and showed it to the police. Ivo and his friends were all arrested. They were transferred to prison in Yaoundé on 14 January 2015.

Amnesty International campaigned for their release and over 310 000 people across the globe, including former Cameroonian football striker Patrick Mboma, wrote to President Paul Biya.