BY CYNTHIA AKUM
The Anglophone crisis has been raging on now for close to six years. It should be recalled that Common Law Lawyers went to strike in October 2016 to protest government’s 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’s 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 organisations have, in one voice, condemned the extra-judicial killings by mostly the military on innocent civilians including children and pregnant women and burning of houses.
Reports indicate that about 5,000 civilians’ lives have been claimed by the armed conflict and about 75,000 persons displaced with many living in horrible conditions in Nigeria.
Despite the successful Major National Dialogue that took place in Yaounde from September 30 to October 5, 2019 to resolve the Anglophone crisis, the resolutions taken seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Human Rights Watch, including other bodies across the board, have documented multiple abusive counter insurgency operations by the security forces in the North West and South West Regions since 2017, which its Central Africa Director, Lewis Mudge, has never failed to condemn especially the extrajudicial killings in Ngarbuh Village, North West Region where 21 civilians, including 13 children and pregnant women, were massacred and which he described as “a prime example of impunity for the Cameroon security Forces”.
Despite all these, the government has established a fresh list of alleged activists targeted for arrest. The list is reported to have been given to intelligence services for action. Amongst the alleged activists who are on government black list and are targets for arrest anytime they set feet in Cameroon are Canada-based Egbe Christabel Motack and UK-based newly elected Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, Chairman, Robert Tamanji Njie Philomen Efila, Nyambuh Neba Frankline, Soppo Mindo Pauline Stephanie, Musa Umarou and Ngeh Louise
The case of Ngeh Louise Njam, a Biochemistry graduate from the University of Dschang is very pathetic. Before going underground sometimes in October 2021 reports say Ngeh happens to be a victim of circumstances.
The Sun gathered that, Ngeh relocated to the village and engaged in farming to raise money and further his education, but was caught in the web of the armed conflict rocking the two restive Anglophone regions. Ngeh, just like any other youth, was molested and tortured several times by separatist fighters because he didn’t agree with their activities.
It should be recalled that the military attacked and razed their Small Ekombe village, in Meme Division South West of Cameroon in 2018 because the separatists hoisted the Ambazonia flag at the Village palace in the name of celebrating their “independence Day” on October 1, 2018. This action caused government to install a military base in Small Ekombe to counter separatists from any further demonstrations.
But the presence of the military base didn’t mean anything to the separatists as they continued harassing, molesting and extorting money from the villagers. This caused the villages to alert the military and they confronted the separatist fighters in the village in January 2020. This confrontation was horrifying as innocent civilians died from stray bullets including Ngeh’s mother, and houses burnt down, including the family residence of Ngeh.
The military affirmed that the parents were shot because they were hiding their children who have taken up arms against the nation. With the approach of October 1, 2021 Ngeh Louise Njam advised the many youths not to demonstrate for the repercussion will be very hard on them, but they gave him a deaf ear and carried on with their planned demonstration. Unfortunately for them the military invaded the village on October 3, 2021 and conducted a mass arrest and one of the most dreaded separatists was captured and while undergoing serious molestation and torture he decided to inform the military that Ngeh was their adviser.
This is how Ngeh, and others were bundled away by the military. Family sources say Ngeh, after two weeks in military detention undergoing torture, it was discovered that he wasn’t an adviser to the separatists, but was just a victim of circumstance. One of the soldiers then contacted Ngeh’s elder brother and linked him to their boss, who later smuggled Ngeh out of the country on October 25, 2021 after receiving a kick-back of FCFA 5 million.
The military keeps making impromptu patrols around the village and neighbourhood of Ngeh’s residence in Kumba on a daily bases, promising to arrest and hand him to the government for persecution and prosecution and to consequently kill or jail him for life.
This is the same horrifying situation with yet another alleged Anglophone activists, Musa Umarou, whom the government has blacklisted for arrest and to consequently jail or kill. Umarou happens to be a victim of circumstance. His elder brother is one of the most dreaded separatist fighters “General Transporter”, who, with some other Anglophone Cameroonians, have taken to the bushes and carrying out attacks on government institutions and the military amidst the Anglophone crisis.
According to reports, the military has several times invaded the home of Musa Umarou, causing the entire family to flee to the bushes. The military is also said to have killed his father, Umaroua Musa, because they considered he was refusing to give information concerning the whereabouts of his son “General Transporter.”
As if this was enough, “General Transporter” and his gang have been on Musa Umarou’s neck to join their camp in the bush to which he vehemently refused and he was suspected to have given information of his brother to the military and the separatist fighters started hunting for him.
This caused Musa Umarou to run into the bushes, and when the military could not trace him, they issued an arrest warrant for him, for failure to report to the military about his brother’s whereabouts. For fear and trauma he did not know the whereabouts of the other members of his family and so he fled from the country in February 2020.
As we went to press, information making rounds in Kumba is that “General Transporter” is so deadly at the moment, causing much pain to the military and even civilians and is a threat even to his brother, Musa Umarou, whom he considers as a “blackleg” helping the military to trace him. Meanwhile, the government too considers him as a co-offender, abetting the commission of secession and civil war by withholding information about his brother who has been declared “wanted dead or alive”.
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 Cameroon especially in the restive North West and South West Regions, the United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour published a 45-page on Cameroon 2018 Human Rights Report wherein it highlighted the worsening human rights situation in Cameroon as about 3,000 civilians lives have been claimed, by the armed conflict, and about 730,000 displaced with many living horrible lives in neigbouring Nigeria.