BY EZEKIEL EKEMA MBELLA
The North West and South West regions of Cameroon have remained restive since the outbreak of the Anglophone Crisis in 2017. Investigative findings and reports from many human rights groups and non-governmental organizations have condemned extrajudicial killings, by mostly the military, on innocent civilians including children and pregnant women, and the burning of houses.
It should be recalled that Common Law Lawyers went on strike in October 2016 to protest government attempts to annihilate the common law practice in a constitutionally bilingual and bi-jural Cameroon. The strike lasted for over a year. Anglophone teachers in the Country joined the strike on November 21, 2016, to uphold Anglo-Saxon values under threat in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions. The government crackdown on Anglophone activists has since intensified with arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, and extra-judicial killings becoming the new normal, human rights groups have said.
Investigative findings from many human rights groups and nongovernmental organizations have in one voice condemned the extra-judicial killings by mostly the military of innocent civilians including children and pregnant women and the burning of houses.
Reports say this situation has caused many to migrate to French Cameroon, while others have fled to neighboring countries as refugees. According to statistics from human rights groups, over 7,000 persons have been killed, hundreds kidnapped, and thousands of houses and over 400 villages razed with over 75,000 persons identified as Internally Displaced, with over 45,000 as refugees in Nigeria. Some have been left in constant fear either for the demise of their loved ones or because their houses have been razed. These attacks have been so alarming that human rights groups across the board have concluded that Cameroon is no longer safe.
The Cameroon Government has, for over five years now, been battling to arrest the situation but tensions continue to intensify with the civilian population in the North West and South West Regions in peril, panic, and pandemonium. Due to this confusion, and fear of the unknown, many youths, businessmen and politicians continue to go underground. The whereabouts of a Kumba-based frontline member of the Social Democratic Front, SDF, party in Kumba, Evaristus Ghah Pono Landong, for example, remains unknown since March 2023. The die heart, member of the SDF, a crusader of a two states Federation as preached by his political party is a victim of circumstances. His mother is a teacher who later on escaped persecution and prosecution from the Yaoundé regime on grounds that she used to air out her opinions on the plight of teachers, the marginalized Anglophones on many TV debate programs. Reports say the role played by Evaristus’s mother amidst the crisis leading to the school boycott caused several detentions, molestations, and torture by security operatives on both Evaristus Ghah Pono Landong, his father and siblings either in Kumba or Douala. The Kumba local SDF-based member because of his political affiliation, reports say saw himself arrested, molested detained in very inhumane detention conditions several times leading to his hospitalization. The Police and other security operatives accused him of siding with the Ambazonian separatist fighters and that he is receiving money from his mother abroad to sponsor the separatist fighters and he proved his innocence in all the allegations anytime he was placed under custody. Security operatives equally accused Evaristus Ghah Pono Landong. THE SUN gathered that he was an informant for the Ambazonian separatist fighters. And that as a member of the SDF since his political party could not win in the 2018 elections, he decided to form a separatist group and was terrorizing innocent denizens of Southwest and North West regions. These allegations according to family sources weren’t true taking into consideration that Evaristus Ghah a strong advocate against Anglophone marginalization, and for a two states federation frequently criticized the constant kidnapping, killings, and extortion carried out by the separatist fighters of innocent civilians Caught in the web in between the security and separatists amidst the armed conflict, Evaristus Ghah’s family decided to cause his escaped from Cameroon thanks to advise from family friends and relations since he was a serious victim of circumstance. Family sources said at Press time that the military keeps making impromptu checks around their neighborhood both in Kumba and Douala, in search of Evaristus Ghah even though his wife and seven months old child have relocated to live with her brother in a neighborhood in Douala for fear of the unknown.
The country is now considered unsafe by many Anglophones in the diaspora who fear arrest or death if they return to the country. While the Anglophone crisis continues to escalate, International Organisations and other Western powers have called on the Government to address the root cause of the crisis through dialogue, also, prominent Anglophone lawyer and human rights activist, Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla, has called on the Government to dialogue, and to release all Anglophones unlawfully detained and imprisoned. French President Emmanuel Macron had once promised to exert “maximum pressure” on President Paul Biya of Cameroon, to end Cameroon’s intolerable Human Rights violations but the war still rages on and extrajudicial killings are still the talk of the day as national and international Human Rights have condemned in very strong terms the atrocities.