The biting poverty currently being experienced in Cameroon in general and the two English speaking Regions in particular is without doubt an offshoot of the regime’s decision to go to war instead of parleying. Following this war project is palpable insecurity, lawlessness and impunity across the board.
The average English speaking Cameroonian is caught in the web of a rag tag army of separatists. They restrict the freedom to attend school, do business and move freely. They kidnap and extort ransoms and sometimes kill their victims outright. They have ghost towns imposed on the territory with most key sources of the people’s livelihood destroyed. On the other hand, local administrators, especially in Buea have gone haywire, criminally sealing private business premises. They are finishing off what is left of an economy already in a coma.
Security operatives have, unfortunately, also adopted the bad sadism of brutalizing, putting people through lots of psychological and physical stress by randomly torturing, looting, killing and extorting from a people that are barely surviving, not living.
Even as a swashbuckling mayor of Buea is making the rounds, forcing people from their homes on ‘ghost town’ days, on the frivolous basis of the town having been “secured” the rag tag separatist fighters are still wreaking havoc. Two lawyers, Messrs, Wilfred Shribe and Ndetan Victor were kidnapped in Buea last week. Shribe wrote on social media shortly after he was released days later:
“I was abducted at about 2 pm from my home last Wednesday at Mile 16 just after I returned from the office and was and was heading to a funeral. They were four armed men and three of them were younger than my son who will be 23 in March.
“I was taken to their base, tortured both physically and mentally. I also paid some ransom. My phone seized but my sim card was given back to me. I was released on Friday and I got home at exactly 2pm same time that I was taken from my home.
“My family and I want to thank FAKLA and the entire Bar for the prayers and whatever assistance you made towards my release…”
Barrister Ndetan Victor is still being held by his captors nearly a week after he was abducted. Meanwhile the mayor’s thugs were yesterday, Monday and aided by security operatives intimidating individual businessmen to open their doors for business. On Sunday, they were afield, commandeering taxicabs and locking them up at the council premises. The cabs would only be released on Monday, against an undertaking that its drivers or owners must beat the ‘ghost town edict.’
On Monday however, Buea streets were still deserted. All school doors, including the University of Buea,UB, remained tightly shut. The mayor is not known to have visited private homes to, in characteristic style, forcefully take away children from their parents or have teachers report for teaching duty. He didn’t go anywhere near the university to maybe force the VC and lecturers to get into empty lecture rooms.
Elsewhere, traveling on the nation’s highways has become something of a bazaar. Passengers, especially those using commercial transport are routinely made to step down at the multiple checkpoints that litter the highways. Their national identity cards are collected by the security operatives manning what has been described as illegal toll gates and only returned against a bribe of FCFA 1,000 each.
On Sunday, January 27, a lady in her late fifties decided that she would abandon her identification document with the police at a checkpoint after Dschang in the West Region than pay the compulsory bribe of FCFA 1,000. The thieving cops held it back. And when she approached a cop wearing a higher rank at the checkpoint, to complain about what had just happened to her, the cop merely shrugged and beseeched her to “go and pay something.” That is how much impunity and a general moral turpitude taken root in Cameroon.