Who rules the roost? ‘Amba’ or army?

“Even though I was scared stiff, my journalistic instincts remained alert. At least, I was able to establish that there were 10 of them. They brandished sophisticated guns, which nozzles they trained tauntingly at us. One of them said: ‘this car has a CE registration number, so it must be from Yaounde. You are the people we are looking out for. You have put us in this mess and must pay accordingly.
“We pleaded, explaining desperately that even though our car was matriculated in the Centre Region, we don’t necessarily hail from there. We are actually from this part and we came to bury one of our brothers.”
This was part of a difficult conversation with ‘Ambazonia boys’ last week in Boyo Division, Northwest Region. Like elsewhere in the English speaking Regions of the country, they now man checkpoints, check passengers and in some rare cases collect small ransoms from them. Occasionally they would pick out an unfortunate security operative or saboteur/informant and abduct him to their camp.
Barely some two kilometers from here, the once bustling Belo town that was sacked some two months back by regular security forces is as dead as a graveyard. But for patrolling troops in armoured cars, it is difficult to see any sign of life here. The tens of thousands of inhabitants have fled into the bushes. Many others were brutally killed by the forces, reason it is claimed, the ‘Amba boys’ decided to constitute their militia.
Very often traffic between Fundong, the chief town of Boyo Division and Bamenda is blocked by the ‘Amba boys.’ They only open it to travelers when “Biya’s soldiers behave themselves by not harassing the innocent,” someone told this reporter.
Ironically, regular soldiers are stationed less than two kilometers away from their ‘Amba’ opponents. From the look of things, the soldiers are aware of the activities of this militia, but are rather reluctant to confront them for reasons best known to them. What they perpetrate, which annoys both the militia and villagers is that they shoot to kill anyone on motorcycle, regardless of whether the one is a certified member of the militia or not.
A middle aged lady by name Juliana Fung called The Rambler from where she said was her hiding place and claimed that her eldest son was summarily executed by regular soldiers who also burnt down homesteads in the Sub-Division.
“I am now in hiding with my other children, especially as I witnessed how a man and his entire family were burnt alive in their own home,” she claimed.
Narrating his ordeal further, the Yaounde based journalist who was home to bury a departed relation said the ‘Amba boys’ requested that every adult passenger in his car hand over their voter’s card. “We all said we didn’t have any but they would not believe and almost proceeded to body-search each and every one of us. It was then that I quickly pulled out my national identity card and presented it to them. On seeing that it was preserved in a CRTV folder, they got even more furious.
“So you work at CRTV? We have to go to the palace where your case would be determined by our boss. They added for effect in Pidgin English ‘… na dat Yaounde people dem dis wey we di fine am. Why wuna want disgrace we so?’”
He said although this lasted for some five minutes only, it appeared as though the whole episode had taken a life time. “We were apparently saved when upon sighting an oncoming vehicle, their attention was divided. The one who looked to me like their commander instructed that the vehicle be intercepted just in case it had on board a military man or anyone else in uniform.
“Then he turned his attention back to us and without as much as raising his voice he requested: ‘give the children water.’ This was a euphemism for a bribe or tip. My wife took out a FCFA 10,000 note from her purse and stretched it. They politely asked that it be placed on the ground. And then with the admonition; ‘God bless you, wuna waka fine ya, they let us go.
The Rambler learned that a member of the newly constituted Constitutional Council was, during the same period a victim of the militia. That he had to both sweet-talk and buy his freedom from the boys. While members of the regular army are said to have gone haywire, looking out for whom to brand and summarily execute, the ‘Amba boys’ have seemingly had employment in compiling names of potential ‘elite sponsors’ of their ‘independence project.’
Fung Juliana quipped: “The military have killed my first boy child and I won’t wait here with my other children to be also brutally murdered. Neither would I wait to be caught in the eventual crossfire of ‘the boys’ and soldiers.

Unknown assailants disrupt examination exercise

In defiance of security measures purported to have been in place to ensure hitch-free writing of this year’s General Certificate of Education, GCE gunmen suspected to be members of the ‘Ambazonian’ Defence Forces, ADF, reportedly attacked the campus of GHS Nkamalikum that played host to students writing the recently concluded GCE examination.
Testimonies from the neighborhood indicate that the unknown men drove into the area in an unmarked car.
The narrative continues that gunshots were heard around 9 am when students were already writing Ordinary levels Food and Nutrition Paper 1 in the halls. Fortunately, the situation was quickly brought under control by security operatives who instilled confidence in the students through containment of the assailants.
Students aver that thanks to the alert by the security officers which prompted an immediate reinforcement to the already precarious situation, calm returned to the campus.
Military transports students to safer centre
A student participant observer on campus told The Rambler that they were immediately transported by military vehicles to Government Bilingual High School, GBHS, Kumba where they continued writing the examination. “Since that incident, students who were hosted by GHS Nkamalikum have continued writing their exams at GBHS UpStation Kumba.”
One reportedly neutralized in the crossfire
Reports say as the military stormed the locality, gunshots were indiscriminately fired by both sides and that this lasted for over an hour. In the process, one of the fighters was reportedly neutralized.
As the shots persisted, denizens of this locality reportedly took to hiding in their homes, with many lying flat on the floor to avert stopping any stray bullets.
It should be noted that but for this particular incident, the GCE examination in Kumba since day one had been hitch free. A situation which has led many saluting the security measures put in place across the town during this period.
GHS Nkamalikum before the attack was equally playing host to other “less endowed” centres like GHS Kake, Kombone, Ekombe and others that could not have students write at their campuses because of insecurity.
By NGENDE ESTHER

Governor asks refugees to come out of forests

Feigning indifference to the persistence of turmoil emanating from the current crisis pitting Southern Cameroonian separatists against the Biya regime, Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai has declared that his Region is under control even as he acknowledged what he terms manageable disturbances that call for collaboration from the entire population to put an end to violence and embrace dialogue. He was speaking in Buea during a recent Regional administrative and security coordination meeting.
He referred to the meeting a traditional ritual, aimed at assessing the administrative and security situation in the Region. “We have had exchanges with Senior Divisional Officers and the Regional Chief of Defense forces and I will say the Region is under control. There are some disturbances but with the collaboration of the entire population, people of goodwill, traditional rulers, political leaders, the elites and the media, I think we will overcome all the challenges,” he said. Okalia added that preparations for future events are already underway given that the current school year will soon be over and, preparation for the next school year must be embarked upon because all the activities begin now, which circumstance justifies the presence of all SDOs in the Region and other collaborators.
In this connection, the Governor said: “We wish to continue in sensitizing the population to be aware that the truth is for them to come back to their homes; the forces of law and order are there to protect them against all acts of terrorism, hence they shouldn’t be afraid of the forces of law and order; rather they should be confident and be reassured in the presence of the military.
“We are inviting the elites, traditional rulers to come back and continue to work and sensitize their children especially, those who have been misguided and are now in the bushes for them to return home because dialogue is on the lips of everyone and we cannot dialogue with people who are in the bushes; let them return and the administration is there to exchange with them so that the situation should return to normal everywhere in the Region.”
Emphasizing further on the need for refugees to come out of hiding, the Governor added that, at the grassroots, traditional rulers, all leaders including family heads, elites, should return and go to the village to discuss with some of the children or the young men who to him are misguided and are now in the bushes. He said that what they are doing is detrimental and has no future emphasizing that it is the discussion with the entire community that can solve the problem.
Okalia assumed that it is only when people will return to their respective villages that dialogue would continue and one would be able to meet with the hierarchy for possible solutions. He also, appealed for violence to be put to a halt and “things returned to normal, before any other initiative because today the entire society is disturbed by the prevailing violence.” He talked of the Head of State having allocated many projects to the Region, many of which portend much hope to the population.
All the assurances notwithstanding, the governor admitted that the meeting was taking place within a peculiar context “that continues to be marked by the socio politically tense environment which is now commonly referred to as the Anglophone crisis.”
The governor acknowledged that the nation has registered the loss of many defense and security forces, school authorities, traditional rulers and even denizens assassinated under various circumstances by what he dubbed “the so called Ambazonia Defense Forces.” He however, appreciated the authorities present who have despite the harsh and tense atmosphere carried out their duties smoothly.
By Relindise Ebune

Meme parents unfazed by schools booklist olive branch

Government olive branch to aggrieved parents who had been writhing under the pains of exorbitant demands from the Ministries of Basic and Secondary Education through nebulous textbook prescription which has now been mitigated following Wednesday June 13, 2018 pronouncement of a more friendly policy effective from 2018/2019 academic year by the National Council for the Approval of Textbooks and Didactic materials for Schools, does not seem to have impressed parents in Meme Division of the Southwest Region. The new measures would have generally been welcome if not of the disturbing school situation in most of the Division.
For instance, according to information made public, the prices of the books have been reduced. The number of textbooks per subject has equally been reduced to one, thereby harmonizing the textbooks across the country. Also, for secondary schools, the books chosen are going to stay in the curriculum for a six-year period before any changes can be effected. All these are what parents have longed for, for over a decade now.
But, despite this dream come true, changes put in place by the Government in order to make education affordable to all, parents in Meme Division, one of the most hit in the Southwest by the ongoing crisis say the publication of the textbooks or the reduction of prices will not solve the schooling problems the Division is experiencing, especially at the level of the villages.
According to Cedric Ashutabi, a parent, the changes by the Government is a welcome initiative. He, however, thinks that a lot more needs to be done to see that children in villages who have not had their campuses opened since 2016 go back to school. “To me, having textbooks are not as important as having children go to school. If text books are there and no students to use them, it will be of no benefit to us.” The Government knows exactly what to do to get children back to school,” he said.
Mrs. Ngano Elizabeth, a private primary school teacher who has not been in service since 2016 feels that the necessity for students to be in school is more than that of expensive or many textbooks. She would want the Government to ensure that children across the nation are in school before talking about books to assist them acquire knowledge.
Another parent who opted for anonymity noted: “the Government is aware that we don’t have schools fully operational in our communities but for schools within Kumba. The poor turnout could even be noticed on number of students who registered for public exams. If they are still neglecting the issue and concentrating more on the books then we are into more trouble.”
However, some other parents whose children survived the storm of schooling in Kumba have appreciated the action of the Government relating to the harmonization and price reduction of books.
By NGENDE ESTHER

Muea gets own ‘dose’ of kidnappings

Late Chief Molinge David, of Muea, with the philosophy and dignity he exuded, could not have imagined his beloved chiefdom, Muea in total pandemonium, gripped with fear triggered by military invasion, road blocks, kidnapping and looting, gun shots that have turned it into a breeding ground for refugees.
Peace has eluded Muea in recent times as the flames of the seething Anglophone crisis hits her and its neighbourhoods. The situation in Muea is getting worse and life is becoming more nightmarish as testified by inhabitants. The climax was reached following the kidnap of the Commissioner of Muea Police Precinct, Tazisong Christopher recently around Mile 16 Bolifamba in broad day light and ferried to an unknown destination. He was freed by regular security forces last weekend. Reports hold that, the “Ambazonian fighters” invaded Muea in broad day light countless times, and on one occasion kidnapped a woman, known for regularly “blaspheming.”

Business in this area has also received a huge blow. Njie Lucy, a hair dresser, says she closes her shop by 5pm, because of the looming insecurity. She lamented that, her peak period in business is between 5 and 9pm, which has caused her much loss, adding that “I barely make even chicken change in a day.”
While places like Ekona are being completely deserted, as it believed to be hosting the secessionist fighters, other roads leading to Kumba, Ekona, and Malende stayed blocked even as we went to press.
By Atembeh Ngewung Lordfred

Rampaging military destroying lives, property

Consciences have been hardened, defiled by the warring factions. The ruling class is, by and large, hell bent on ensuring that coercive state authority triumphs over good governance, political reality and compromise. “Diaspora separatists” look to have vowed that “their people” will die on their feet rather than live on their knees.
Foreign interests appear not to be very clear yet, where to definitively pitch their tents of corporate greed. Militias are growing by the day, with unemployed radicalized youth eking out a living by kidnapping for ransom and bullying for cash handouts.
Rural populations, especially have melted into the forests, retreating from the regular soldiers who are not only burning down their homesteads; they are also shooting at unarmed men, women and kids. Most towns of the two English speaking Regions now look like conquered territory. The military are, by and large, calling the shots, especially in the Regional capital of Buea. They seem to be having their way all the way, and beyond what whatever specific tasks have been assigned them by the ruling class.
Armoured personnel carriers drive through the town recklessly, and in wanton disregard for rules of the road. The safety of other individuals using the same road means little or nothing to the soldiers. BIR soldiers especially drive without care and attention, purposely disregarding the safety of other persons or property. Many cars and other automobiles are being bashed in Buea and Kumba. Pedestrians have been wounded, at times fatally through such dastardly acts of military bravado.
Yet, none of the rampaging drivers in military fatigues is known to have ever been cited by the police for driving unsafely on the highway or in crowded municipalities. The apparently lawless men in uniform would not even stop to see if someone was hurt following their reckless driving patterns. Only on one occasion did they bash someone’s car on the Likomba hill from Tiko and after driving off for about one kilometre, they made a u-turn back to where they had done their worst and had their bewildered victim kicked and taunted.
A similar case of recklessness was recently recorded in Kumba, during which a military truck reduced a taxicab to twisted metal on the bridge near the Town Green.
Last week at the Molyko neighbourhood of Buea, chief town of the Southwest Region, the BIR soldiers were at it again. Driving at breakneck speed and in total disrespect for traffic rules, their personnel carrier almost killed a newspaper Publisher and the lone occupant in his car. But rather than atone for their crudeness, they rather drove on, wielding their weapons and mocking their traumatized victims and other onlookers.
From every indication, there isn’t just a breakdown of law and order, with sophisticatedly armed soldiers having a field day unperturbed. Fidgeting, scheming political elite are looking the other way. Consciences, especially those of soldiers whose lives are effectively jeopardized as they fight separatist forces have at best been defiled. Part of the human psyche that induces mental anguish and feelings of guilt is to say the very least, dead in these boys.

Cop threatens journalist with death

As the Anglophone problem is escalating by the day with a high number of deaths registered, abductions on the rise and violation of human rights and dignity, the threat on the persons and lives of Anglophone journalists especially, those of the private media is now an issue faced by the few who dare to write about the ongoing upheavals particularly, in the Southwest Region.
After an incident which saw the molestation of The Post Newspaper vendor for no apparent just cause, another scenario bordering on threat to the life of Maxcel Fokwen, Kumba journalist writing for same newspaper has reared its ugly head. After an unpleasant ordeal with some military goons in Kumba, this is what he posted on his Facebook page for all to see.
“IF I AM KILLED…
“If you find my flesh lifeless then ask the police to explain.
“Friday June 15, 2018 at 6:15 pm, a police officer walks up to me at the Kumba newsstand. He then beckons on me to come. Afterwards, I am asked to produce my identity card and what followed next was a series of unending questions in French.
“Despite telling him I came to collect a newspaper … the officer insisted and then tells his colleague on duty “chef voice l’Ambazonien qui vient ici. Then I retorted that I don’t understand what he was saying and he talks further with his colleague.
“As I smiled telling him I am a journalist who often times visits their service for professional work, he gave me a stern warning.
“Eh ne blague pas avec moi. Je ne suis pas Anglophone. Je ne vien pas ici pour ris avec toi. Je te tue maintenant.”
“Then he turned his focus to my professional card and I told him today is a public holiday and that I left home. Before I could speak further, he looked at the complexion of my hands keenly then opened up my underwear and said he was going to find out about me.
“I maintained that I could not connect with all his insinuations. The officer makes a few steps towards the newsstand and then returned my credentials promising doom. I made an immediate call to the Central Police Commissioner for Kumba. He’s promised to investigate the threat to my life. I impatiently await the outcome of his findings.
“N.B. I am not only made of flesh but my spirit cannot be assassinated. Before today, anonymous callers have made similar attempts on my person which I have ignored until today.
“My God too can do the worst.
To confirm the veracity of the story, The Rambler had a long chat with the victim who explained that before the ordeal, he had been having strange calls which caused him to avoid taking calls from unidentified numbers.
Questioned on what he did after the scenario, he said he immediately called and met the Commissioner of the Kumba Central Police station. He said the Commissioner requested if he knows the name of the said police who harassed him, but he said he does not know but could pick him out facially. However, it is noted that they have not yet visited the police for identification of the person who harassed him due to other circumstances as he planned going to the Senior Divisional Officer, SDO’s, office subsequently.
Fokwen however revealed that since the beginning of the crisis especially, the meeting of Bobga Harmony in Bamenda, he has been writing about the crisis but, doing his reports objectively, reasons why he doesn’t see why the military should be behind him.
It should be noted that some police travelling via public transport without the knowledge of the presence of journalists in the same transport vehicle held openly that Anglophone journalists are separatists’ adding that when they (the police) “will start on them,” no one will tell them to stop writing about the crisis.

Kumba still cut off from Buea

Routing the Ambazonia militia from their stronghold near Ekona in Fako Division must have been pretty good news for the regime. Freeing certain important abductees, including a Police Superintendent would have been equally relieving to the regular forces and their paymasters. But somehow this seeming edge over the separatist fighters may turn out to be but a pyrrhic victory for the Government or at the very best, a good joke in bad taste.
Vehicular traffic from Kumba, Meme Divisional chief town, to the Southwest Regional capital, Buea has, for almost a week, been completely disrupted. The dislodged militia is said to have blocked the highway with heaps of sand and other obstacles, totally disrupting movement to Kumba and vice versa.
It is also alleged that the Amba boys went haywire, and have since been physically stopping every single automobile from getting into or leaving Kumba. Consequently, thousands of visitors who entered Kumba from Fako Division are all stranded here. Others who came in from Mamfe, hoping to proceed to Muyuka, Buea or Victoria are reportedly still stuck in this Meme chief town. The same goes for those that were trying to reach the popular K-town from Yaounde, Douala or even from abroad.
A source informed The Rambler that the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, PCC, Moderator Emeritus, the Most Rt Rev, Nyansako ni Nku is one of those stuck in the small village of Bombe. He was said to be on his way to preside at a memorial service for a prominent PCC Christian in Victoria when he was caught up in the melee. We were told that the army opted to improvise some means of getting him out of the seeming captivity and enable him carry out to his Pastoral duties but that the former Moderator would rather be holed up with the rest of the stranded crowd in the tiny village.
By midday on Tuesday, June 19, bulldozers, escorted by heavy military tanks left Kumba, ostensibly to clear the road and make for traffic to start flowing. But by nightfall, on the same day, not even a single automobile had arrived Fako from Meme or vice versa. Hundreds of anxious passengers were still eagerly waiting on both sides of the divide.
Elsewhere on the streets trucks carrying foodstuff destined for other parts of the country from the agriculturally rich Meme Division were stranded, packed in long lines on the highway. Some of the foodstuff was, of course, rotting away.

Fallen cop posthumously decorated

As Government’s last respect preluding transportation of the homeward-bound corpse of Chemu Mbange Denis, First Grade Police Inspector shot and killed in Ekona on May 20, Southwest Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai, on Friday, June 8, in Buea decorated the lifeless body of the fallen hero with a bravery medal.
The event started with procession of the remains of Chemu into the police Mobile Intervention Unit, GMI, premises by his colleagues. The national flag was placed on his coffin and Okalia proceeded to decorate it with a bravery medal. He and some other dignitaries in the presence of the family members consoled the late police’s widow while the remains of Chemu Mbange were then taken away in an ambulance to be ferried to his native Balengou village in the West Region.
The 38 year old deceased was admitted to be a police constable in 2,000 and in 2,004, wore the grade of Police Inspector till his death. He had worked in the West Region, Maroua and lastly in Buea where he met his end.He was married and father of four little boys.
When The Rambler met with Tchoumjou Jean, brother of the deceased, he stated in agony that his late brother has left a very big hole in his heart adding that he doubts the person who can feel it. He pointed to the four little boys which Chemu left behind with his young widow.
Chemu Mbange died in active service in Ekona on May 20 according to the Southwest Governor by separatists.
By Relindise Ebune

PNDP Donates Generator to Nguti Council

The Mayor of Nguti Council, Tong George has on behalf of his municipality received a generator donated by the Southwest Regional Coordination for the National Programme for Participative Development, PNDP.
The generator intended to beef up electricity supply alongside their giant solar panel was handed them earlier in the month at the esplanade of the Kumba City Council during the close of a meeting which brought together three Councils in the Southwest.
Mayor Tong George Enow, speaking to the press shortly after receiving the generator said: “I am a happy Mayor, because amongst us all that ought to be here I was chosen and given a generator. This will go a long way to beef up electricity together with our solar panel.”
PNDP presents Mbonge, Konye, and Nguti participatory survey report
The meeting that brought together Mbonge, Konye and Nguti Council executives, PNDP staff, and members of the civil society amongst other persons aimed at presenting the scorecard of the different councils as discovered during their research.
According to Dr David Nken, PNDP’s coordinator for the Southwest Region, “our meeting here today was to present to the population of Mbonge, Konye and Nguti a participatory survey that is PNDP’s agenda with the Councils.”
This activity which he said is known as citizens report card is a joint partnership with PNDP and the Councils where civil society organizations are recruited to carry out a participatory survey to get the perception of the population on the services provided by the Mayor and the Council at large. It also includes their appreciation and level of satisfaction in the sectors of health, education and water, Dr Nken explained.
The coordinator noted that the programme began in April last year with the selection of the civil society, then eventual work which rounded up in October 2017, with the draft reports validated earlier on in Limbe.
From the findings presented, each Council had different results in different areas sampled. That notwithstanding, the recommendations for the three Councils in relation to their Mayors are similar. For instance, in Mbonge Council area, findings on education sector revealed that more schools and hospitals need to be constructed closer to the population. But that the population is not aware of the activities of the Council. A similar situation also obtains in Konye.
Quizzed on how he thinks such programmes review will help in the management of the Council, the Coordinator said if the three Councils will follow recommendations provided by the report just like the Idenau Council is faring well now after following their own recommendations, then most of these problem posed by respondents would be a thing of the past.
One of such recommendations the Mayors must put in place is a mechanism to ensure that the population understands what the Council is doing in their interest. The recommendation suggests that it is the role of the Councillors after every seating to go back to their various constituencies and present to the local population what decisions were reached at the Council sessions. But such recommendation is coming at a time when even Mayors are not in their areas of command.
Another recommendation is that Mayors should encourage participatory development in all respects. They should try to discourage the attitude of expecting everything from Government but rather mobilize financial, material and human resources to support Mayors in development.
Participants like the Mayor of Nguti said “the survey was very important, because it presented a picture of what we are. From here I think it will help us evaluate and improve on our services.”
By NGENDE ESTHER