“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.
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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
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
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Routing the Ambazonia militia from their stronghold near Ekona…
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Philippe Nkouaya returned from France a few months ago after…
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Barrister Nico Halle is not a run-of-the-mill personality that…
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Encouraged by imminent possibility of some solace to the ambient…
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