Curled From Eden Newspaper
As the crisis in the North West and South West regions, which has morphed into an armed conflict, rages on, residents in some localities in the conflict-hit regions have been caught between atrocities committed by Ambazonia separatist fighters and government’s clampdown on suspected separatists and sympathisers of the Anglophone cause with the use of defence and security forces.
Security operatives have been indiscriminately arresting Anglophone activists and suspected activists. Sources say the arrested persons are being detained under deplorable and inhuman conditions. Some have reportedly died in detention.
This has caused many of them to flee into hiding and the whereabouts of many is not known.
Meanwhile, as the gun battles between the military and separatist fighters increase, some villagers in some communities have been forced to escape into the forest, for fear of being caught in the crossfire.
The separatist fighters have also been torturing and killing those whom they suspect are giving information to the military. They have also been forcefully recruiting young men and women to join in their fight for independence of what they have named Republic of Ambazonia.
One of those who have been caught between the Ambazonia fighters and the military is Njoh Mwambo Egange Tonypierre, an electrician who was living in Buea. Njoh’s ordeal began when he won a contract at a construction site in Bwitingi village in Buea Subdivision, Fako Division of the South West Region.
One day while working at his job site, Ambazonia fighters attacked a market in Bwitingi. Informed of the situation, the military also stormed the area. There was a crossfire between the military and Ambazonia fighters. The military chased the Ambazona fighters right to the site where Njoh and others were working. The Amba fighters took refuse in the building under construction were Njoh and others were.
The fighters are said to have used the civilians as shield to escape from the military. The fighters are said to have told the military that if they shoot again, they will kill the civilians, including those who were working at the construction site. The military is said to have stopped shooting and the Amba fighters took Njoh Mwambo Egange Tonypierre, and others to their camp.
The Amba fighters are said to have coerced Njoh to join them in their struggle, but he refused. They are said to have threatened to kill him if he doesn’t join them. Njoh was kept in the camp for about a week, while fighters severely tortured him and the other kidnapped persons without providing them food.
While some families are reported to have paid ransom for the release of their children from Amba captivity, Njoh’s family did not pay any ransom.
However, Njoh is said to have later escaped from the camp of the Ambazonia fighters. After that, he was hospitalised because of the injuries he incurred from the tortures.
But his ordeal from Amba fighters did not end as we gathered that Amba fighters continued searching for Njoh because they suspect he has seen their camp and may reveal its location to the military. For fear of his life, Njoh is said to have gone underground.
Meanwhile, the military is also said to be also suspecting Njoh as having been collaborating with Amba fighters and are looking for him. The military is said to have stormed Njoh’s house, looking for him.
If the separatist fighters lay hands on him, Njoh will certainly be killed, like many others who have suffered from atrocities committed by separatist fighters.
Meanwhile, if arrested by the defence and security forces, Njoh Mwambo Egange Tonypierre will be tired in a military tribunal, under the anti-terrorism law, whose maximum punishment is the death penalty. That is if he is not killed outright, like many others who have been victims of extra-judicial killings.
Origin Of Crisis
It is also worth recalling that the Anglophone crisis, something that pundits say had been brewing for several years, boiled over recently, when Common Law Lawyers in the North West and South West regions went on strike. They were demanding for the return of the federal system of government, redeployment of Civil Law Magistrates back to Civil Law Courts in French Cameroon, among other grievances. Not long after, teachers in the North West and South West regions also went on strike, demanding for the redress of several issues concerning the English system of education.
Things, however, got worst when Anglophones in both regions, who had been fed up with the unfavourable political and economic situation of the country, the use of French as the dominant and official language, and the marginalisation of the Anglophones, joined the strike.
The crisis has left thousands, both civilians and security and defence forces dead, others internally displaced with some living in bushes while over 30,000 have fled to neighbouring Nigeria where they are living as refugees.
Many houses, and even whole villages, have been burnt down in the crisis-hit regions.
The separatist leader of the self-declared Republic of Ambazonia, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, and eight other close associates of his, who were arrested in Nigeria and extradited to Cameroon, are currently serving life sentences at the Kondengui maximum security prison in Yaounde. Many other activists such as Mancho Bibixy, Penn Terrence, Tsi Conrad, among others, are also serving jail terms at the Kondengui prison.
While the Anglophone crisis continues to escalate, international organisations and other western powers have called on the government to address the root cause through genuine and inclusive dialogue.