By SIMON KALLA NDIVE
Ever since the outbreak of the Anglophone crisis in November 2016, the government has led a brutal crackdown of prominent opposition activist, civil society leaders and leaders of the pro-independence movement, Ambazonia or the Southern Cameroons National Council, the SCNC.
Common Law Lawyers in Cameroon went on 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. Same day, Mancho Bibixy staged a coffin revolution at Liberty Square in Bamenda to protest against the marginalisation and economic deprivation of Anglophones.
Matters came to a head on Thursday, December 8 when the population of Bamenda took to the streets to denounce the politicisation of a strike action they consider genuine and borne of longstanding grievances.
Days of ghost town have since been observed throughout the South West and North West Regions of the country.
On January 17, 2017, Barrister Nkongo Felix Agbor Balla and Dr. Fontem Neba, leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) were arrested moments after the consortium had been banned along with the SCNC.
Same day, internet was cut in the North West and South West Regions. The floodgate of arrests was thus open with the arrest of Mancho Bibixy on January 19, 2017. Journalist Atia Tilarious Azohnwi, Hans Achomba, Godden Zama, Penn Terence and hundreds of other Anglophones would later be arrested and ferried to detention centres in Yaoundé.
Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, president of the self-styled state of Ambazonia was arrested in Nigeria on January 5, 2018 along with nine other members of his cabinet including Tassang Wilfred, Nfor Ngala Nfor and Barrister Eyambe Ebai.
The government crackdown on Anglophone activists has since intensified with arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and extra-judicial killings becoming the new normal. The likes of Raphael Muma who have braved the odds to stand against human rights violations and the excesses of the security forces in the North West and South West Regions has been accused of supporting the Anglophone separatists.
Muma has been at odds with his employer, the Mayor of the Idenau Council where he currently works. He has severally been detained. harassed, his family intimidated by the government without due process.
His fate remains precarious as security forces battle separatists. President Paul Biya has since taken a tough position on the crisis in the two-English speaking regions. Guns have since taken the place of dialogue and peace.