Firebombs now rule Meme!

Mounting tension in the vicinities of KwaKwa and Nake along Kumba/Mbonge road consequent upon the brutal murder of a policeman and a soldier earlier this month allegedly by “Ambazonian Tigers” who had laid siege over the area, patrolling with guns and checking vehicles and, concomitant Government retaliatory expedition actualized in the deployment of over 500 soldiers and policemen has left the villages lifeless

Reports, images and videos captured of these villages indicate that more than 50 percent of their populations have lost homes to flames of fire set by military men. It was, also, reported that on Wednesday January 17 and Thursday January 18 when the military raided the area and met nobody, they were angry and started setting houses on fire.

One of the survivors of that attacks whose house was also burnt told this reporter that, “The military were just burning indiscriminately. This is because even churches which have no connection to the Anglophone crisis were burnt. He revealed that the premises of the Apostolic Church and the house of the Rev. Father of the Catholic Church have been reduced to ashes.” It is even alleged that an old woman of 96 year was burnt in one of the wooden structures in Kwakwa when all her children ran for safety in the bushes.

Kwakwa deserted

The erstwhile buoyant village is now as quiet as a grave yard at night. People have fled this locality to other safe zones like villages along the Bai Manya/Kotto Barombi road. Many of those who can be seen are those who hid in the bushes and only come to pick food stuff around their compounds. The only people who own the land now are the military who keep parading combat ready. Stray animals and skeleton of houses are the images that welcome the eyes of passersby in Kwakwa. In fact as at Saturday January 20, The Rambler got reports that all the Batibo people who had been residing in Kwakwa had taken off for Bamenda.

Attacks elsewhere

On Tuesday, January 16, soldiers stationed in Mbonge stomped the locality of Dieka Bafaw whereupon two civilians were reportedly shot dead. Reports from this area also indicate that one of the soldiers suffered an injury emanating from the careless firing of guns. The corpses of the two boys were laid to rest on Wednesday, January 17, by the villagers. People in this village are also leaving in constant fear of the unknown.

In Mbonge, a soldier was reported to have been killed by persons yet to be identified on Thursday January 18. Still on this day the principal of GBHS Mbonge was reportedly attacked by the “tigers”. It’s said that he ran and got missing at the CDC rubber plantation but later found his way using the GPS device.

The villages of Ekombe and Kake also suffered panic as there were reports of random gunshots in the afternoons and even at night. At Ekombe, the indiscriminate shooting by the military left a Sourobat worker (company charged with the construction of the Kumba/Ekondo Mudemba road) dead.

The neighbourhood of Tancha, in Kumba III Sub-Division is said to have also experienced a tensed atmosphere on Friday morning.

Generally, life in Kumba is calm but not without fear of what might happen the next moment.

By Ngende Esther

Will Buhari deliver ‘big Ambazonia catch’ to Biya?

This question may be answered within hours, weeks or months.  The “show” may even stretch on for years. But what is clear is that the arrest over the weekend of Ambazonian separatists in an Abuja hotel is fueling heated legal, constitutional, diplomatic, political and social debates.

Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and Co

While apologists of the Biya regime hurriedly rejoiced and cursed “secessionists and adventurers” for clutching the balancing pole too far on one end that it tipped them over, diehard separatists and frontline actors in the fight for Ambazonian nationhood ranted on social media, threatening fire and brimstone and warning the Nigerian Government against handing over the “prized catch” to Biya.

But as it stands, “negotiations” most likely to be anchored on vested socio-economic, political, diplomatic, legal and other parochial interests might mean having the issue of the arrest of some nine spearhead Ambazonian separatists drag on for quite a while. Plus, the Ambazonian question might just have hit the glaring limelight of the latest in the quest for self-determination.

As we write, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius, head of the Interim Government, IG, of Ambazonia and eight others are the unwilling guests of Nigeria’s Directorate of State Security, DSS. News about their imminent release or extradition to Yaounde is still hazy. What is clear is the fact that some diplomatic “hobnobbing” has so far been ongoing between Yaounde and Abuja ever since the renegades retreated to Nigeria about a year ago. Then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo received a key figure of the Biya regime, Emmanuel Rene Sadi (Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization) sometime last year and must have sought the good influence of the neghbouring Federal Republic of Nigeria to help neutralize the burning appetite for an Ambazonian state. This was followed up by Mr. Biya receiving the Nigerian High Commissioner to Cameroon at the Etoudi State House.

From the look of things, President Biya, might just be hoping that the arrest of the cream of the Ambazonia leadership might just turn out to be the ultimate nuncdimmitis or death of the uprising during which security operatives have mowed down hundreds of innocent civilians, raped and maimed many more. He might just be fancying having crushed the rebellion without as much as starting the much trumpeted dialogue that his regime has been preaching, singing and rhyming.

But such a dream could only materialize following due legal/diplomatic process as well as a considerable invocation of international conventions. At the very worst, crass resort to the manner of brinkmanship that informed former President Matthew Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo’s betrayal of Liberian fugitive, Charles Taylor might mean shipping across the big catch to Yaounde. It should be recalled that after assuring Taylor of his safety in Nigerian territory, Obasanjo surreptitiously set up the former Liberian strongman to be arrested in a remote Cameroonian border village. Taylor is today serving a 50 year jail term at The Hague.

President Biya had in a state of the nation address on December 31, warned that “all those who have taken up arms, who perpetrate or encourage violence should be fought relentlessly and held accountable for their crimes before the courts of law.”

The above warning is clearly indicative of what fate awaits the likes of Ayuk Tabe should the Nigerian authorities introduce them to Biya’s den of “one and indivisible wolves.” This probably explains Nigerian foremost lawyer and human rights advocate, Femi Falana’s concerns. The fiery lawyer has asked President Buhari to immediately release the detained freedom fighters. He has also warned him against releasing them to Biya “because Cameroon and Nigeria have no extradition treaty.”

In a media outing, Falana noted:

“The Attorney General also lacks the vires to initiate extradition proceedings under the Extradition Act (E25) Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Noting that Nigeria may be under pressure from Biya to hand over the arrested men and woman to the Cameroonian security forces, the learned Queen’s Counsel, QC, pointed out that they are entitled to reside or visit Nigeria without molestation. He advised Buhari that instead of using the SSS to fight Biya’s proxy war, the security outfit should rather fish out criminal elements that have unleashed war on the people of Benue State in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.

“As Africans, the detainees are entitled to human rights, to personal liberties, freedom of association guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution. Furthermore, their unquestionable right to self-determination is protected by Article 20 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which has been ratified by both Cameroon and Nigeria.

“Having failed to crush the ideas which recently led to the demand for the state of Biafra by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, the Federal Government should not attempt to provoke the marginalized people of the Southern Cameroons, SC, by frustrating their legitimate demand for an independent state of Ambazonia.

“Since the Federal Government has not succeeded in completely defeating the dreaded Boko Haram sect, it should not declare war on the people of Southern Cameroons and further expose the displaced people.”

Be that as it may, it may be the wish and hope of the Biya regime, that like happened in Angola after Jonas Savimbi, the rebellious leader of UNITA was killed, the dream of an independent Ambzonian territory might equally go up in smoke should its propagators be repatriated to Yaounde and decently silenced, once and for all.

By Claudia Nsono & Charlie Ndi Chia

End impunity, cut the losses

The news from Nigeria has been heartening. The military tribunal there just passed life and death sentences on its own soldiers for atrocities committed against civilians during the fight against Boko Haram in the North. To be celebrated in this verdict is not the death or permanent incarceration of these soldiers – they must, in some way, have contributed to containing the Boko Haram madness – but the integrity displayed by the Nigerian military. Discipline is the established hallmark of any army, and discipline is incompatible with impunity. An army in deployment has rules of conduct and any violation thereof is visited with befitting severity. This includes the killing, torture and humiliation of non-combatants and even captured combatants.  Some soldiers use war or law-and-order campaigns as a pretext to settle personal scores or to visit their ethnic hate on people in a position of weakness. These are war crimes and crimes against humanity, and when an army is not seen to identify and adequately deal with the culprits, the criminal responsibility goes up the line of command, right to the commander-in-chief.

In dealing decisively with its war criminals, the Nigerian military have demonstrated that they take the honour of their uniform seriously, with impunity as an unacceptable blemish. That act may concern only a few soldiers but its symbolism is of great significance. Indeed it is a brilliant plume in Nigeria’s hat as a leader on this anything-goes continent of ours.  Every country claims to be a state of law, but in most of Africa the network of laws is like a cobweb. It can catch all the flies, bees and butterflies but the rhinoceros beetles just plough their way through. In other words we can apply the laws when the culprits are small fry but look the other way when it comes to heavyweights.

For those Africans who keep complaining that by prosecuting our leaders for crimes against humanity the ICC is trampling on their sovereignty, Nigeria’s action speaks louder than words. As long as zero tolerance for crimes against humanity is to be applied across the board, Nigeria should, in future, not need the ICC to carry out these prosecutions.

This makes it two lessons for Cameroon in a matter of weeks, coming just after Zimbabwe’s demonstration of how to deal with a spent but sit-tight leader. Cameroon cannot pretend that this is a new lesson. If you visit the Foumban palace museum, you will see among the relics an under-sized human skull. The palace historian explains that this is the skull of a diminutive coward soldier who, in war time, used to flee the heat of battle at the front.  At the end of the battle soldiers were expected to bring home the heads of enemies they had killed. This coward would then kill some unarmed civilian and bring home his head as a war trophy. Once found out, he was killed and his skull kept as a historic testament to intolerance for war crimes.

The conduct of Cameroon’s military in Buea and Bamenda in the past few years, and especially in its recently declared war against the people of Southern Cameroons, is laced with crimes against humanity. And since nobody in the rank and file has been held publicly accountable for these misdeeds despite all the visual evidence flooding the social media, the responsibility for the crimes falls squarely on the shoulders of the commander-in-chief. And the longer the conundrum drags on the greater the carnage, the heavier the grievances, the more frightful the gravity of the case to be answered, the more inescapable the consequences, the slimmer the chances of reconciliation and the more distant the dream of oneness and indivisibility.

The picture the regime is marketing of the current crisis is that of some foreign hand trying to de-stabilize Cameroon in the guise of the Anglophone secessionist movement.  Sometimes we lie so persistently that we begin to believe our own lies. It does not take a soothsayer to tell anyone that this regime sowed the seeds of its own destabilization they day it abandoned the path of rigour and moralization and opted for social unaccountability and impunity. The head’s personal coffers are bottomless and he is surrounded by an arrogantly wealthy ethnic cabal ready to do anything and everything to avoid accountability, even if it means the whole country gets torn down. Any form of governance that gives the people a voice is a potential threat to this gang and must be blocked by all means, fair and foul. That is why they can’t imagine Biya leaving, no matter how tired he may become, unless he is to be replaced by one of them or someone they are sure to control.

It is thus obvious that the Southern Cameroons awakening sends shivers down their spines, and must be attributed to some external machination to destabilize Cameroon. That is a ploy to enlist any residue of nationalism among Francophone Cameroonians, even if the gangsters themselves no longer believe in Cameroon.  Indeed ‘The Rambler’ challenges the security services to investigate the over 50 top officials of this Government who are now rumoured to have acquired foreign nationality as a safety valve.

In any case, they know that the shedding of Southern Cameroonian blood and the blood of other innocent Cameroonian soldiers has not been in the national interest. If it is true that Biya has ordered an end to the madness, it is indeed the least he could afford to do now. He may find it a humiliation to retreat in the face of a war be declared, especially given the reports of heavy losses among his troops, but he should not be ashamed of ending a war he should never have started in the first place. And in any case, it is never too early to stop senseless bloodshed.

As for what impact the end of hostilities will have on Southern Cameroonian disaffection with his regime, that is a completely different kettle of fish.

UB VC counsels freshmen; shun vices, hug studies

The event could not have been otherwise than representing a replay of what must have been UB Vice Chancellor Prof. Ngomo Horace Manga’s experience some 37 years ago as freshman of the University of Lagos in Nigeria, in archetypal Anglo-Saxon tradition. As replication therefore, over 6,000 newly matriculated students of the University of Buea, UB, have been told to stay disciplined, focused on their academic duties and avoid unnecessary distractions.

Prof. Ngomo Horace Manga was speaking recently in Buea while matriculating the 25thnewly admitted batch of students into the University.

“You must shun habits like drunkenness, theft, sexual promiscuity, corruption.Please don’t be part of those who hide on social media to propagate inimical information to the growth of this university. Your watchwords should be discipline, hard work and respect of the rules and regulations that govern this institution,” the VC counseled.

He told them that the university world is a race which they will need their health, energy and financial resources to win. Prof. Ngomo said they should redouble efforts in order to graduate from the university with their heads high.

“Excellence does not come from spending 24 hours daily in the library or praying 12 hours a day; all-night vigil or spending all your time on social media; or being an all-time night clubber or partying all-week.  The amount of time you spend on your books should be balanced by that spent on social engagements and other forms of social learning.”

Given that it was the VC’s first batch of matriculation after his appointment, he named them‘The Vice-Chancellor Batch.’He said as a result, they are expected to be true ambassadors who will safeguard and improve on the reputation of the institution. Prof. Ngomo assured the students that the university will do its best to protect their interests.

Delivering an academic discourse to the students, Prof. Giselle Morfaw told them they were now masters of their own destinies. “Be assiduous, inquisitive and enthusiastic. You are here because you understand that you don’t know and want to know. You must be organized because it is the key to success,” she told them.

The Professor of Mathematics reminded the students that they were the pillars of the nation and as such, in all they do, they must strive for excellence.

The matriculated students promised to heed to all the advice given them. According to one of them, Lesley Rian Awah, they have learned so much. “We have been given advice and objectives.The VC has told us the things to do in order to obtain these objectives. Classes have already begun and we are doing all it takes to attain these objectives,” Awah said.

Students still on Mayor’s fake credentials

Some students used the occasion to remind the powers that be about the fake certificate still in the possession of the Mayor of Buea. Moris Orock, a postgraduate student in the Department of Law expatiated why they were still carrying placards against Ekema.

“This is a demonstration we have been at for a long time now pertaining to the fact that the Mayor of Buea has fake credentials in his keeping which are not just affecting the University of Buea but Cameroon in general. The last time the Minister of Higher Education, Prof. Jacques Fame Ndongo, was here for the VC’s installation, he promised us he was going to see into those fake certificates of the mayor and how he will be brought to book. Today, we are here to remind the VC and the Pro-Chancellor to help us see that all our pleas of retrieving Mayor Ekema’s fake certificates come to pass.”

By Nester Asonganyi

Kamto perceives warmonger in Biya

The simmering Anglophone crisis has occasioned glaring confusion in Government circles, particularly, the presidency and President Paul Biya. Concomitantly, the head of state’s unjustifiable inability to react with resolve and expedience to national issues has, also, been attracting scathing criticisms from various quarters both locally and internationally. The most recent of such mockeries has come from erstwhile ally turned opposition kingpin and National Chair of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM, Prof. Maurice Kamto, who has accused Biya, of inviting a civil war upon the country.

He has questioned why Biya, who has enjoyed several successive re-elections with purported 80 percent scores has deafened his ear to the people who voted him to the helm of the country “even when they are in great helplessness, urgently needing his political intervention.” Kamto criticized Biya, reminding him that he is at the service of the nation and its denizens, contrary to what obtains, warning that the entire country risks plunging into a civil war if he fails to put a stop to happenings in the English speaking parts of the country.

Prof. Kamto vented his anger at what he calls the President’s nonchalance at the volcano about to erupt in Anglophone Cameroon, following recent killings in Mamfe, chief town of Manyu Division in the Southwest Region. He dared him (the President) to abandon his philosophy of “Presidential Silence,” which he (Kamto) claims is outdated, open dialogue with immediacy because “the country has caught fire in the Anglophone Regions.”

The CRM December Declaration, signed by its National Chair regretted that Biya’s ‘New Deal’ Government is experimenting adventurousness on the country.

“The terrible change of situation is the result of the insolent indifference of the President of the Republic, Paul Biya, vis-à-vis the problems posed by Cameroonians. Also, the intense verbal insolence and provocation from some ministers and Government officials; the irresponsible policy of the CPDM and its allied parties who, obviously blinded by privileges they derive from power, do not yet realize that the ‘New Deal’ regime has just engaged the country in an adventure. The President of the Republic, the Government, the CPDM and its allied parties have been, since December 2016, permanently informed to the real risks of a civil war in the country by both political parties and civil society organizations, international organizations, reports from specialized research centres, and countries friendly to Cameroon.

“Unfortunately, since the armed attacks by law enforcement officers of the 6, 7, and 8 November 2017, indicate that we have finally moved to a civil war, the popular wisdom teaches us not to nervously break the thermometer which can only indicate the symptoms of an acute fever, but which does not cure the patient, is now proven,” read the declaration in part.

He invited the Head of State to go dialogue personally with the grieving Anglophones, abandon his “political contempt vis-à-vis Cameroonians,” release and stop the prosecution of all persons detained in the context of the Anglophone crisis, organize the national political dialogue that will address the thorny Anglophone question, electoral issues, including the revision of the Electoral Code, and institutional reforms, present the nation’s condolences to families of all victims and Government’s apologies to the populations of the two Regions.

The question many are asking is whether Biya, who has blinded himself to the carcasses in the country he has heralded for 35 years will take caution from an opponent. The answer flies in the wind.

By Claudia Nsono

SW jamboree to nurse Fako Cultural Festival

After several hectic days of showcasing and savouring the rich, diverse cultures of the Southwest Region, through the second edition of the Southwest Cultural Festival, Fako elite have been emphasizing the need to revive the Fako Cultural Festival which has for a while been forgotten. Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, General Coordinator of the Southwest Cultural Festival echoed this much in his closing remarks.

Members of Bakweri Male dance on display

Going down the lane of cultural festivals in the Southwest in the 1960s and 70s, and in the backdrop of the new impetus given by the Ministry of Arts and Culture to improve cultural tourism and the Government policy of multiculturalism through festivals, the General Coordinator said it was time to especially, revive the Fako Cultural Festival of the 1970s.

In doing this, he said, nobody is being copied, because there is a Government policy on festivals and they have or could mobilize the necessary expertise in public relations and event planning to design, plan and manage special events such as festivals.

He assured that the envisaged Fako Cultural Festival would be people-driven and will not be taken hostage by special interests or people who feel that without them the Division ceases to exist. He added that the Fako Cultural Festival will become a platform for every person to have the opportunity of participating and contributing toward the making of the Fako identity and personality.

Ewumbue-Monono said that this year’s host of the event, Fako is still culturally very much alive. He said that the massive participation illustrates that no group of people can take the Division hostage and that culture is that which can unite and bridge the gap between the elites and the ordinary grassroots people of Fako.

He saw in the Southwest Cultural Festival, an opportunity to bring the people together and to highlight what unites them with the rest of the nation. He said it was Mr. Biya’s vision of using culture as a tool to promote peace and dialogue.

Ewumbue-Monono added that it is a medium for the expression of those common values that make up the Southwest personality and include peace, the Region’s legendary hospitality, solidarity, the central role of women and youths in culture, respect for the elderly, hard work and creativity.

He said that the festival would serve as a barometer for the rate of national integration, social inclusiveness, living together and legendary hospitality. It would above all be an opportunity to showcase what unites the Region with the international community and highlights the Region’s strategic importance as one of Cameroon’s gateways to globalization.

According to Ewumbue-Monono, the institutionalization of the Cultural Festival has once more demonstrated the tradition of collective Regional action as a Southwest people. To him, such collective Regional action earlier found expression in Pan-Southwest organizations such as SWELA, SWECC, the Southwest Support Committee for the Reunification Celebrations, to name but a few. He added that such action based on alternate leadership and hosting has itself become a Southwest Culture and trademark which has distinguished it from many other Regions.

The General Coordinator preferred not to enumerate how many other Regions that have attempted to copy the Southwest example of Regional associations and platforms but failed. He, however, said that, emphasizing on the Southwest way of doing things is as a result of his observation that many young political and traditional leaders who have elbowed their way to power through money and high influences, unfortunately are still devoid of political education on the essence of the Southwest common destiny as elaborated in the early 1990s.

He hoped that the Southwest spirit and solidarity in approaching issues should also prevail in managing their cultural heritage. Just as other organizations have never jeopardized or threatened the existence of tribal, clan, village and town organizations, so too according to him, will the Southwest Festival never threaten or jeopardize the existence of secondary and tertiary festivals in the Region, let alone Fako Division.

By Relindise Ebune

‘Sourobat’ promises 50% execution of Kumba -Ekondo road by April 2018

Following the numerous complaints about the bad nature of the Kumba Ekondo Titi stretch of road, slow pace of construction and rumours of abandonment of work by ‘Sourobat’ Company, its director has reassured users that construction work has resumed.

The Tunisian road construction company has announced that by April 2018, they must have attained a 50 percent realization rate of work done.

This assurance was made public on Wednesday, November 29, 2017, to the Governor of the Southwest Region Bernard Okalia Bilai and his entourage as they paid a working visit to the construction site and equipment pool at Small Ekombe village during his just ended administrative and security coordination meeting to Kumba.

Addressing the press shortly after a technical presentation of the situation by the head of the company, the Governor said: “we came to see how work is going. We are satisfied that work has actually resumed.” He further explained that, “the company has told us the work was delayed because of the heavy and extended period of the rains this year. But the company is promising that by March to April they will obtain a 50 percent execution of work done.”

In order for the company to meet up with their promises of execution, the Governor equally used the media present to appeal to the people of the Southwest and particularly to the people of the area concerned to ensure a safe working environment for the workers.

“We know that recently there are a lot of threats and if those people are threatened, work will not continue. That is why I came with all my stakeholders to reassure the population that they are secured.” He said the Government that initiated the project is ever determined to develop the Region together with support of the population.

Talking to the chiefs of Small Ekombe H.R.H. Lawrence Kombe expressed satisfaction. “Seeing the calibre of dignitaries present here, we are very happy. From today, we expect to see a different colour of the road and of course a different colour of the village. My people at first thought this company was joking because of the numerous postponements but seeing this visit today they are assured the work is a reality,” Chief Kombe added.

Though ‘Sourobat’ is so confident of 50 percent delivery by April, critics hold that this promise might not be fulfilled, given that statistics revealed by Wallington Tanyi Tanyi, Regional Delegate of Public Works holds the company with eight percent work done so far as of November 29, 2017 with 48 percent time already consumed. This therefore means that for the company to meet up with work and time, they must employ more workers and will have to work 24/7 daily till April.

By Ngende Esther

 

Did Mugabe’s disgraceful ouster trigger Biya’s hasty return?

President Paul Biya’s penchant for prolonged absences from the country, particularly, after fulfilling diplomatic obligations abroad has weighed in with his sudden return to the country after the recent EU/AU Summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, instigating in its wake, a pristine debate relating to the accurate manner to assess such unusualness.

In this light, some observers have applauded the president, for breaking his own record by unusually returning to the country immediately after an international forum. They have, also, commended him for not sojourning in Abidjan for as long as he had done recently, in Switzerland after the 74th UN General Assembly.

Fault finders have, however, posited that the President’s swift return to the country which he visits from time to time only to fulfill constitutional righteousness has been occasioned one of two factors. The first could be the fact that he was out in an African as opposed to a European country where he is apparent greater luxury. The second could be fear that a Harare-type incident, which culminated in the disgraceful exit of sit-tight Mugabe from power may be restaged in Yaoundé. In their defense, they have opined that it explains why the President thundered against “acts of terrorism propagated by adherents of a divided Cameroon” as soon as he touched feet on Cameroonian soil on Thursday, November 30 2017.

As if to explain why he failed to lengthen his stay as was expected, Mr. Biya, took to the stage upon arrival at the Nsimalen International Airport in Yaounde to condemn the purported recent killing of four soldiers in Agborkim Waterfall in the Southwest Region. Extending condolences to the bereaved families, the President regretted that his country is facing recurrent terrorist attacks which he claimed, are sponsored by secessionists.

Trying to reassure the citizenry that the culprits will be brought to book, the President announced that measures are underway to intensify peace and security within the national territory.

Pundits threw up at his threats, warning that he is singlehandedly worsening an already bad situation. They warned that intimidation and threats have failed woefully to reinstate normalcy in the country since the Anglophone crisis broke out over a year ago. They cautioned Cameroon’s second President who has ruled the country for the last 35 years to tread softly.

The 84 year old had gone to defend what he calls the rights of young people in the future of Africa even though his Government is anything but youthful.

People are asking whether military life is more important than those of other Cameroonians, or if those lives that the military has been mowing down in the recent past; those very people who elected him are lesser mortals.

Meantime, the boisterous Communications Minister, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, had in a press briefing, besought the international community to take note of the goings-on in the Northwest and Southwest Regions.

“This escalation of indiscriminate violence and murder, specifically targeting those to whom the republic has entrusted the responsibility to defend the territorial integrity and the security of people, calls more than ever, on the international community to take full account of the current situation in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon. We will continue to protect every Cameroonian living in these two Regions against the situation of hostility and captivity. The Government will take its responsibility to free its citizens from the state of captivity, terror and trauma resulting from the anti-republican conveyed by the secessionists.”

Ironically, this responsibility of the Communication Minister’s imagination has largely been taken by way of killing the very people like flies and chasing others into foreign exile.

As if to put the President’s words into action, the Senior Divisional for Manyu, Oum II Joseph, on Friday, December 1, signed a communiqué strongly advising inhabitants of Akwaya, Mamfe and Eyumojock Sub Divisions to “relocate to safer neighbourhoods of their choices in the hours that follow.” He warned that failure to do so would be treated as accomplices and perpetrators of supposed ongoing criminal occurrences registered against security and defense forces. At whose expense and where they are expected to relocate is a puzzle.

By Claudia Nsono

Curfews, brutal repression fuelling Anglophone fury

Many an Anglophone, it could be said, see Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai, as a villain, with hardly any human feelings. The Governor’s paymasters or those he strives to satisfy on the other hand, construe him as astute and strict. Political opportunists are cashing in and reaping cheap benefits by siding with what Okalia represents.

But whatever the case, the Regional administrator’s brash utterances and actions in recent times are, to say the very least, hurting the very interests of those he purports to govern and pretty hurtful to the socio-economic life of the Region under his rule. And the fear is that the man’s high handedness and intransigence might, in the long run, beget boomerang consequences, gravely compromising a peace that has become very elusive.

Proof is: the day land and sea borders between Cameroon and Nigeria were closed at the level of the Southwest and Northwest Regions, traders were stuck with perishable merchandise at the Tiko wharf. A cargo boat that had anchored was about transporting the vegetables to Nigeria. The Governor ordered that the boat returns to Nigeria unloaded. Even entreaties to the effect that the goods be off-loaded from the trucks and sold locally were refused.

As a consequence, 700 baskets of fresh tomatoes got rotten. Thousands of water lemons also got bad and were thrown away. The owners wept and counted their losses while the Governor apparently counted the political gains he had made for the regime and his career.

Impoverished commercial bikers

Even as citizens of the Region are yet to recover from the carnage inflicted on their relatives and loved ones on September 22 and October 1, his gubernatorial edict prohibiting the movement of commercial motorbikes from 7:00pm – 6:00am has occasioned confiscation of 10 more bikes in addition to over 50 earlier seized after their owners were adjudged to have violated the law. This, in the reckoning of the Governor is in a bid to reduce what he has dubbed terrorism perpetrated against the forces of law and order by barbaric extremists hiding amongst the population.

The Governor’s edict has totally disregarded the important role commercial motorbikes perform in the community transporting people from one interior neighborhood to another and the discomforts that come with the absence of such services in the country. Since the curfew was placed on commercial motorbikes, the population of Buea has been challenged, trekking from one place to another, especially in the evenings. Even old people are forced to trek long distances at night due to the absence of bikes. Bikers, who dare go against the curfew and pick up passengers out of pity, have often fallen prey to the Government dragnet.

According to a biker at Muea who gave his only name as Evaristus, 50 bikes were seized last month and have not been released since then. In continuation of the constant seizure of bikes, Wednesday, November 22 saw another seizure of about 10 commercial bikes that were still plying the streets after 7:00pm. He stated that some Gendarmes came in mufti and pretended to be passengers.The few of his colleagues who fell for the bait had their bikes apprehended. Evaristus narrates life with and without their bikes. He also explains how he as a biker feels about the curfew prohibiting their activities from 7:00pm. Read him:

“It is through commercial bikes that we are able to pay our rents, feed, take care of our wives and children. In a day we can make a profit of FCFA 10.000. Most often we receive more customers as from 6:00pm – 10:00pm. So saying that we should halt our activities as from 7:00pm is really not the best. We are greatly affected by this. I think that 9:00pm could have been a better and more convenient time for us to stop business, not as early as 7:00pm when the business is at its peak.

“There are neighbourhoods in the outskirts of Ekona not frequented by taxis. Natives from such villages prefer using bikes owing to the adaptability and convenience of this mode of transportation. Most often they come to town to either sell or buy. When it is evening we always have so many of them scrambling to get a bike. And now with the curfew, it is worsened. Most often when we are unable to transport all of them before it is 7:00 pm, those left are found in a situation where they have to trek very long distances. We pity them but cannot do otherwise because we could fall victim and our bikes apprehended.  Hence it is not just affecting us but the whole community.

“Before now, I used to save some monies. But the curfew has dealt a devastating blow to me; I am now forced to go into my savings just to meet up with my daily needs and that of my family. I need to pay all my bills because the various companies are not interested in knowing if I am viable to pay the bills or not.

“Just this act of the Government has already corrupted the society.The number of bikes which have been apprehended is even uncountable. The lives and hope of people are lying in the cold in some institutions. The economy is already grounded. They are in their offices giving orders for bikes to be apprehended forgetting that it is the life of another.

“Worse of all is that, we don’t even know when this disturbance to our businesses will come to an end. We are dying and suffering but the Government has no interest in the life of commoners like us. We of the bike sector are plagued with so many challenges. It seems the Government is bent on handicapping us. From various controls at night demanding for money and also with various curfews placed on us.

“I am begging that the Government should look down on us with pity. Even if the Government wants to kill or execute us, at least they should give us water on our dying bed. We are soaggrieved and even feel discouraged working at such times because the time for us to work is not favourable. They themselves don’t go to bed at 7:00pm. So why do they prevent others from working at that time? It is just commercial bikes. Don’t taxi drivers and even private cars transport criminals too? They are on the contrary gradually turning some bikers to criminals since they have so many needs and yet no job to fend for those needs,” Evaristus lamented.

Even denizens have condemned the impoundment of commercial motorbikes, pointing to the devastating effects on the economy, social life of the people, insecurity, the upgrade of crime and difficulties moving from one place to another in the absence of such services.

According to Ngong Cletus businessman, there exists a very high rate of unemployment in the country. To him, at the moment when young boys in the neighborhoods have taken up the initiative to make a living out of riding commercial motorbikes to support their families, a curfew is placed for them to halt their activities by 7:00pm.

“That is when their business sector is booming. I think the authorities placing such order are not in any way doing good to the society. They just want to render our young boys hopelessly jobless. Very soon we’ll start hearing of theft here and there because they need money. It is already affecting the economy. Thieves are not transported only via commercial bikes; taxis and private bikes also play a role in transporting criminals,” Ngong stated.

Security forces as the people’s enemy

Since the beginning of the Anglophone problem, security forces have not in any way rested peacefully. The programme of those undergoing training has been halted and they have been deployed to the two English speaking Regions for maintenance of law and order. Our source, an Anglophone Gendarme whose identity we have retained for security reasons told us his experience as a gendarme at this period of crisis.

“As a gendarme officer at this time of the country when the atmosphere is tense, especially in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, I am going through tough times during this period. Those in these Regions regard us uniform men and gendarmes in particular as enemies since we are those at the fore front.

“Personally as a gendarme, I am disgruntled about all what is going on. The gendarmes have painted a very negative impression to denizens whereas, we are the ones to protect them and bring peace to the society.  It is rather unfortunate that, we are seen as a nuisance to the public. That is why whenever some denizens see us, they either run and hide or scamper into safety. It is a very challenging moment for us because some of us left our sites where we were posted some five months back and came to Buea for a mission. At this moment I am speaking to you, most of us haven’t seen our parents or family for the past six months. If things were normal, I would have been with my family. We are even prevented from calling our loved ones or visiting them. It is so challenging because as gendarmes, we don’t have that freedom.

“Moving into the neighbourhoods in our uniforms is what we cannot dare to do. We are afraid of what may befall us in the neighbourhoods. Remember that some gendarme officers were killed in Bamenda as a result of that. We now walk in Binoms (in pairs) which is not supposed to be so. We are supposed to interact and share with the people, fight for the people but the scenario has changed since this Anglophone problem. On the contrary, we now hide from the people as we cannot move freely. I am not at peace with all these, which is why I am pleading with the authorities to rectify the problem because not just civilians are dying but the military too are being killed.

“Imagine one assigned to guard a school for five days, turning around the same spot from morning to evening. We are so vulnerable, exposed to so many hazards. Many gendarme officers have lost their lives while guarding an institution. Despite all odds, we have no choice but to do it since we work for the Government.

“We have been faced with so many embarrassments in attempts to buy food. Most often, business people run away from us that we are their enemies and may want to harm them. They don’t even interact with us. Most often we have money to buy but those to buy from are either running away or not friendly while selling to us.

“My family now regrets why they enrolled me into the National Gendarmerie, because they are disgruntled about what is ongoing in the nation. At the moment, they have no choice because I am already into the service. All they do is to caution me to be very careful and avoid the malpractices which some of my colleagues engage in.

“I will say I am totally not in support of actions some gendarmes have executed like the killings and rape. I condemn such acts. When we go out as a group on mission and such things happen, I always talk to some of them. But they sometimes do not adhere to my advice. They say that they are military men and so, have the right to do whatever pleases them. The bad thing in the country is that, we do make laws but fail in executing them. In school we studied the Military Penal Code since there is a code we follow for everything we do. But we the military people still execute so many things which are not in the Code. You can’t go out to maintain peace and order, and on the contrary you kill or rape the people. In maintenance of law, a gendarme officer is not warranted to shoot and kill a civilian. In cases of riots, we are advised to use teargas and not live bullets. But there are situations which civilians have been killed. It is out of the law. Because in the military, we are permitted to use a gun only when an opponent comes armed and you know he will fire at you, then we are permitted to shoot him down. But that is not the case with the Anglophone crisis because most often they come unarmed. I think the authorities should investigate those who go about with the killings and rape. They should be punished.

We were not taught in a single day in English

“Even when I went in for training, I discovered that the marginalization up there is even at its peak. Throughout our studies and training, for almost a year, we were not taught a single day in the English language. When an Anglophone decides to ask a question using the English language, he would be told that “l’arme c’est la force francais”, meaning that the military is a French force and that English is not allowed in the military, whereas we are a bilingual country.

An Anglophone gendarme is hardly made the leader of a group.

The opportunities given to Francophone gendarmes are not given to the Anglophones. It is very difficult seeing an Anglophone made the head of a group. Anglophones are seen to be right down there while Francophones are superior.

Even as an Anglophone soldier, I play my role

Before now, I was also one of those who were against the marginalization against Anglophones. Even as a gendarme officer, I still play my role. It is not everything that I am asked to do which I do. While on the field, I cannot watch Anglophones being oppressed and I take part in it. I try to protect them, and pull them back. At times my colleagues behave like animals.

It is time for Anglophones to stand their grounds

“The Anglophone crisis has reached its peak that the authorities have to look into it because Anglophones are being marginalized in every sector in the country. It is also the time for Anglophones to stand their grounds; they shouldn’t give up and I know they may achieve their aims some day.

As a Gendarme, my hands are tied. If I weren’t with the National Gendarmerie, then I would have had the opportunity to put in my contributions to the struggle. But, now I am unable to do what I could do. Remember that you can’t bite the finger that feeds you.We were told that we don’t have a friend and made to understand that it is Government fight, so we are placed to fight the people.

I’d rather die than to be against my family. At the end of the day I am going back to my family. It is my friends and family members that will be there for me. So why should I fight the very people I may need their help someday?” he pondered.

By Relindise Ebune

 

Another fire guts 40-year old GBHS Fontem

Government inability to locate and eventually punish perpetrators of arson on public and private buildings in the last one year has seemingly heightened the criminal desire to inflict more drudgery on populations of the Southwest and Northwest Regions.

The latest in the series of incendiary occurrences is that which has just been visited on the administrative block of Government Bilingual High School, GBHS Fontem, rendering the edifice useless by burning to ashes most documents that had been carefully stored therein. This unfortunate incident has come barely a few months after a previous fire had wreaked havoc on the Francophone section of the school.

The Principal’s, Vice Principals’, Bursar’s, Discipline Master’s offices, including the Principal’s Secretariat were all reduced to ashes by the unfortunate inferno that occurred during the early hours of Saturday, November 24.

According to the Principal, Nyilua Zinkeng Alexander, he has not been able to immediately estimate the loss incurred from the damage. He has however, affirmed that only the destroyed roof can be estimated at over FCFA 10,000,000. He said lessons were timidly resuming in his school when the sadist arsonists executed the unpardonable act. He noted that the only thing recovered from his office were some certificates which were kept in a safe.

The arsonists did not end at burning the school; they also dropped warning notes against school resumption in the campuses of GBHS and Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College Fomtem. One of the notes read:

“Students and teachers are hereby advised to immediately stop schooling and teaching and wait for the appropriate time to be given by the Government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia. Failure to do so, you will face the consequences, I repeat, you will face the consequences. Those of you in the dormitories, we give you 48 hours to pack and go home safely. Note: no amount of La Republique forces will protect you from our action if you don’t respect this note. We love you and want the best educational system for you and not this one of La Republique… Parents take note!!! Beware and be warned!!!

The Vipers in collaboration with the ADF (Ambazonia Defence Forces)’’

The perpetrators of this act have equally named names, warned certain individuals in the community engaged in sensitization relating to schools resumption.

There was also a failed attempt to burn one of the cars belonging to the gendarmerie. It was parked right in front of the Gendarmerie office.

A day before these dastardly acts, the Bishop of Mamfe and native of Lebialem, Andrew Fuanya Nkea had sensitized the population on the importance and need for them to send their children to school during a Holy Mass service.

“I was in the US, and had the opportunity to celebrate Mass with those clamouring for schools boycott. I told them that if they were serious, they should withdraw their own children from school in solidarity with those at home,” the Bishop recalled.

He advised the people of Lebialem that, failing to send their children to school, is failing to prepare a brighter future for them and they will end up doing the most menial jobs.

Some inhabitants of Menji have been quick to conclude that, the arsonists are not indigenes. According to Denis Lekeateh, a Menji denizen, he is very convinced that the forces of law and order are not all ignorant of what is happening.

This is happening when schools were timidly reopening in Lebialem Division, after long struggles by the administration and some elite. Parents, according to the SDO, Zachariah Unghitoh had promised their children were all going to return to school yesterday Monday, November 27, 2017. The SDO regretted that the 40-year old school has been reduced to point zero, given that all records have been destroyed.

Following accusing fingers at the forces of law and order in Menji by inhabitants, the SDO has told them to prove their innocence by investigating, arresting and presenting suspects of such mischievous acts for legal proceedings to be engaged.

By Nester Asonganyi