An appeal against Abba's 10-year prison sentence was supposed to start on Thursday 17 August but his lawyers were shocked to find his name had been taken off the military tribunal's list of hearings on Wednesday evening.
"I think Ahmed Abba's name has been taken off the roll, I don't know why," his lawyer Clément Nakong told RFI, pointing out that the appeal was lodged three months ago. "International agreements that Cameroon has signed, Cameroon's constitution and the penal code all specify one should have one's case heard within a reasonable period of time."
Abba, who was Cameroon correspondent for RFI's Hausa service, has already spent two years in jail after being arrested while reporting in the north of the country, where the Nigerian-based Islamist group Boko Haram is active.
Defence committee set up
RFI has slammed his conviction for failure to denounce terrorism and laundering the products of terrorist acts as "incomprehensible".
Press freedom campaign Reporters Without Borders has been joined by other NGOs, performers, journalists and friends in setting up a defence committee for him.
The committee, set up on Wednesday in anticipation of the appeal, has created a Facebook page and won support from French media bosses, writers and cartoonists, along with musicians including Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo and Tiken Jah Fakoly and Magic System founder Salif “Asalfo” Traoré Traoré from Côte d’Ivoire.