BY CELINE LUM
The war in the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon referred to by activists as Southern Cameroon, or ‘Ambazonia’ continues to rage unabatedly despite calls by national and international bodies for an inclusive dialogue to address the root causes of the problem.
The Anglophone crisis, which started in 2016 with a strike action by Common Law lawyers and Anglophone teachers against marginalisation has transformed into an arm-conflict with Anglophones from all walks of life including businessmen, nurses, surveyors, teachers caught in cross- fire between security forces and separatist fighters. Others are either termed black legs by ‘Amba boys’ and molested/kidnapped for ransom or arrested, tortured and tried at the military tribunals for allegedly taking side with the separatists.
Echobei Valery Apiagyei, a member of the SCNC and human rights advocate, who has been supporting the peaceful movements for an independent Southern Cameroon since in his university days, was among those who fell in the security dragnet on September 21, 2018 in Muyuka, South West Region while returning from a funeral in Kumba. Just like his friends Ndikum Gerald, Mbah Valentine and Mbolle Mirabel, they were rough handled by the military for dressing like the Ambazonian Freedom Fighters, and released three hours after.
The SUN gathered that Echobei, while on a family visit in Bamenda in December 2018, was again arrested for inciting soldiers to defect from the military and join the Ambazonia Struggle. According to family sources, he subjected to inhumane treatment and was later released thanks to the intervention of his late father, Hon Echobei Jethro. With this repeated arrest, it was clear that Echobei was under government surveillance. For fear of the unknown, he is said to have left the country for a destination still unknown.
Another youth who had long gone underground since September 2018 for fear of reprisals is Ngwa Standley Che. According to trusted sources, the Kumba-based business man supported the Ambazonia fighters financially to prevent them from attacking him, his family and business. Unfortunately, the Cameroon military uncovered it; he was abusively tortured, with his shop and house set ablaze resulting to the death of his child, Che Peter and his pregnant girl friend Abang Sonita. After this sad experience, Ngwa engaged in the distribution of goods in his environs. During one of his distribution activities, one of his vehicles was stopped at a police checkpoint and a bag of contraband goods were discovered in the vehicle. This led to his detention, alongside the vehicle travel. Thanks to his cordial relationship with the Police Commissioner, an Anglophone, Ngwa was advised to leave the country for fear that they could kill for sponsoring terrorism and dealing in fire arms. This is how Ngwa Standley Che went underground and have not been seeing in Cameroon again. Just like many Anglophones who are tagged terrorist for allegedly siding with separatists, the fate of Ngwa will be complicated if seen in Cameroon.
This is the case of many others who may never be seen again as the conflict in the restive regions shows no sign of ending anytime soon. The ongoing socio-political impasse in the restive North West and South West regions of Cameroon has claimed 3000 lives with about 730000 displaced and many others living in horrible conditions in neigbouring Nigeria.