Cameroon acquits former mayor of working with Boko Haram

Yaound - A former mayor in Cameroon arrested in September 2014 for alleged complicity with Boko Haram was acquitted Thursday, a week after a Radio France International correspondent was released on terrorism charges.

Moussa Ramat, the ex-mayor of Fotokol in Cameroon's far north, was accused of supplying weapons to the jihadist group and assisting in the sale of looted goods from Boko Haram fighters.

His lawyer Eugene Balemaken told AFP the accusations "did not correspond to reality".

"He was therefore properly acquitted following the debates."

Sources said the former mayor regularly intervened before his arrest in several negotiations that resulted in the release of Boko Haram hostages.

Ramat could be released very soon, said Balemaken, who called the trial of his client as "unfair" because of his help with negotiations.

After serving 29 months in jail, RFI correspondent Ahmed Abba was acquitted on December 22 after being suspected of collaborating with Boko Haram and not passing on information to the authorities. He was released the following day.

Since 2014, when Cameroon began its fight against Boko Haram, the group has killed at least 2 000 soldiers and civilians and kidnapped 1 000 people in the country's far north region, according to the International Crisis Group.

At least 20 000 people have been killed and more than 2.6 million displaced in the eight-year conflict, which has destroyed livelihoods and triggered a humanitarian crisis.

About 1.8 million people live in camps or with relatives in Nigeria's worst-affected states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. Others have fled to Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

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