Gov’t steps up crackdown as Anglophone crisis persists

NEWS 07 Jan 2019
Gov’t steps up crackdown as Anglophone crisis persists

By Simon Ndive Kalla

 As the crisis that has been rocking the North West and South West regions, which has spiraled into an armed conflict, rages on, the government has stepped up its crackdown on all those suspected to be activists of the Anglophone cause or sympathisers to the cause.

In this light, security operatives have been indiscriminately arresting Anglophone activists and suspected activists. This has caused many of them to flee into hiding and the whereabouts of many is not known.

Sources say the arrested activists are being tortured and detained under horrendous and inhuman conditions. Some have reportedly died in detention.

It is worth recalling that the Anglophone crisis, something that pundits say had been brewing for several years, boiled over in October 2016 when Common Law Lawyers in the North West and South West regions went on strike, paralyzing the courts. They were demanding for a return to the federal system of government, redeployment of Civil Law Magistrates back to Civil Law Courts among other grievances. Not long after, teachers in the North West and South West regions also went on strike, demanding the redress of several issues concerning the English sub-system of education.

Things got worse when concerned citizens in the North West and South West region, who had been fed up with the unfavourable political and especially economic stagnation of Cameroon at large, but more importantly in these regions, joined the strike.

But after negotiations with the teachers and lawyers ended in deadlock, the government banned the Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, and the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, CACSC. Some of the leaders of the Consortium such as Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho and Dr. Fontem Niba were immediately arrested while others such as Barrister Bobga Harmony and Tassang Wilfred fled into hiding.

But as the crackdown on the activists escalates, several cases have been reported. One of the cases is that of Muda Emmanuel Fonjah Senior Pastor of Full Gospel Mission Messassi Assembly, and District Supervisor of the church in Yaounde who is being hunted and suspected of being an accomplice of separatist fighters.

As a pastor, Muda Emmanuel Fonjah, family sources said, could not be indifferent to the increasing numbers of internally displaced persons caused by the crisis. Because some of the IDPS were from his village of Batibo, and others from Bamenda and Kumba where he had served as pastor of Mulang and Bonakama before he was transferred to Yaounde, he started helping the affected and displaced persons from the war torn zone. He provided them with shelter, financial, material and moral support.

Because of his benevolence, more IDPs continued trooping to Muda Emmanuel Fonjah for assistance in August and September 2018. The pastor is reported to have later been invited by one of his colleagues, Rev Lambe Paul Mukake, District supervisor of Full Gospel Mission Tiko. On November 14, 2018 he went there and equally assisted other displaced persons who are members of the church. He provided them with basic needs.  However, some of the neighbours became suspicious of the displaced persons, alleging that some of them may be Ambazonia fighters.

This prompted one of the neighbours whose name we got as Angwafor Susan to make a complaint to the police against Muda Emmanuel Fonjah for being an accomplice of the separatist fighters. A warrant of arrests for Muda was issued by the State Counsel of Tiko and the Tiko police commissioner sent out an “avis de recherche” declaring him a wanted person.

Before the warrant was issued, Muda Emmanuel Fonjah had returned to Yaounde and was unaware of the said warrant. We gathered that was only after the annual Area convention of the church on Saturday December 15, 2018 during which he preached that he was informed about the warrant. His picture had been posted all over Yaounde, calling the churches and population for the citywide convention. After taking note of this picture and the information in the church system a member in one of the churches, who is a policeman, is said to have informed the Area supervisor, Rev Ndebe Simon, that there is a warrant for Muda Emmanuel.

Muda and his colleagues did not take this serious until on Monday December 31, 2018 at about 10a.m. when security forces stormed the office of the area supervisor asking for the whereabouts of Muda Emmanuel.

Muda Emmanuel Fonjah

Muda Emmanuel Fonjah

The man of God was thus advised to flee for his life because if arrested he might be tried for abetting secession under the anti-terrorism law whose maximum sentence is the death penalty. Muda Emmanuel, we gathered, has fled the country.

It would be recalled that leaders of the Anglophone separatist movements including Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and nine others, who were arrested in Abuja, Nigeria in January 2018 and later extradited to Yaounde, have been appearing at the military tribunal for their trial.

Many other activists including Mancho Bibixy are serving long jail terms at the Kondengui Maximum Security Prison in Yaounde after having been sentenced by the Yaounde military tribunal.

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