Anglophone crisis: Kidnappings, killings, burning of houses increase in North West, South West

NEWS 22 Apr 2019
Anglophone crisis:  Kidnappings, killings, burning of houses increase in North West, South West

By TALLA AGHAA CHRISTOPHER

As tensions in the North West and South West Regions rage unabated, with government embarking on a protracted mission to fish out sympathisers and activists backing what is now termed Anglophone crisis, kidnapping of children especially those of top government functionaries for ransom, burning of houses and offices of government officials is now the order of the day in the North West and South West Regions.

This follows frequent clashes between government forces and separatist fighters.

These have forced some top government officials especially security officers to relocate to other Regions in Cameroon under very difficult conditions. Separatist fighters, who claim to have several localities in the North West and South West Regions under their control, have equally asked all workers on government payroll to relocate to French-speaking Regions.

Many cases abound in where police officers and their relations have been blacklisted by the separatist fighters as blacklegs and are determined to eliminate them. Reports from the North West and South West Regions now considered by the separatist fighters as their territory which they ‘Republic of Ambazonia’ hold that houses of government functionaries have been razed to the ground by separatist fighters, who have reportedly also warned them never to make any attempt including their family relations to come back to their birth place.

A case in point is that of the family of Sona Ericson Matuke, the Police Superintendent for Menji in Lebialem Division of the South West Region who has received the worst psychological torture from the hands of separatist fighters. Lebialem Division, it should be noted, is the centre of armed confrontation between the Government forces and the Ambazonian Defence Forces.

The Sun gathered that on May 20th, 2018  the Ambazonian Defence Forces in Lebialem, stormed the office of  Commissioner Matuke in search of firearms and ammunitions and an open confrontation with the police officers on duty ensued, leaving four police officers wounded and the office razed to the ground by the separatist fighters. As if this wasn’t enough, the residence of the Superintendent of Police was later on razed to the ground on the day of 2018 Presidential elections in Cameroon, thus forcing him and his family to relocate to Dschang, neighbouring in West Region which is in French-speaking Cameroon.

Meanwhile, in Kumba, the birth place of Commissioner Sona Ericson Matuke, whereas, his brother-in- law, Numbissi Alphonse was beheaded by the Ambazonian Defence Forces for allegedly being a spy to the Police, another brother-in-law, a Company Commander with the Cameroon military, was equally shot in front of the Commissioner’s residence.

The Sun gathered that he went to sympathise with the Commissioner after having heard of his ordeal with the separatist fighters.

As children of police and military officers are now prime targets for kidnapping and the rampant and indiscriminate killing of youths makes it very dangerous and insecure for any youth to live in the area at the moment, the children of Commissioner Sona Ericson Matuke especially his two sons Matuke Karlmax Djomtcheu and Matuke Jefferson Ekwa, who are currently out of the country, will find it difficult if they return.

According to Commissioner Matuke, their safety and security cannot be guaranteed as they both face the danger of being killed by the belligerents talk less of relocating to the French-speaking Regions of Cameroon.

The residence of commissioner Sona Erison Matuke razed to the ground by saperatist fighers

The residence of commissioner Sona Erison Matuke razed to the ground by saperatist fighers

Matuke Karlmax Djomtcheu and Matuke Jefferson Ekwa, it should be noted, are all English-speaking Cameroonians and cannot further their studies in the French-speaking parts of Cameroon.

The Sun gathered that Commissioner Matuke, who is presently in hiding out of the South West Region for fear of his own security, is of the opinion that his two sons Matuke  Karlmax Djomtcheu and Matuke Jefferson Ekwa can only come back to Cameroon after the war between the Ambazonian Defence Forces and the Cameroon Military must have ended.

The war in the two Anglophone Regions of Cameroon referred to by activists as Southern Cameroons or “Ambazonian” is in its third year with no end in sight. The number of shootings, abductions and arrests keep soaring.

Life for many living in the restive regions is a miracle given that each new day comes with its own atrocities. Today, many homes in the two restive regions have been broken into with women left to drown in their tears. They have been looking for their husbands and sons and other family members who are either missing or dead.

The outskirts of towns like Buea, Kumba, Menji, Bamenda, Kumbo, and Mamfe have been the hardest hit by the crisis. Many have fled in order to provide a level field for the smoking guns. Extra-judicial killings, burning of homes and villages, raping in these regions have been the order of the day as many have been declared as Internal Displaced Persons, IDP’s.

Recent statistics by civil society organisations reflect the extent of the damage with horrific numbers. The death toll is on the rise while there are claims that about 200 villages have been burnt down in the two regions, and some 17,000 people remain internally displaced, a majority of whom are taking refuge in the bushes and forests. This is in addition to the more than 45,000 English-speaking Cameroonians who have assumed the status of refugees in Nigeria.

Several activists both home and abroad have been earmarked for arrest with regional, national and international warrants issued against them. Photos declaring them ‘Wanted’ are reported to have been handed security forces with names like Tanjohcha Zavera, Franlklin Vegah Law, Menyele Charles Mosima and Tayo Kenzem placed under police searchlight.

Leaders of the virtual state of Ambazonia, otherwise known as Southern Cameroons, Sisiku AyukTabe, Tassang Wilfred, Barrister Eyambe, Nfor Ngala Nfor and others, had been arrested in Nigeria and extradited to Cameroon and have been detained at the Kondengui maximum security prison in Yaounde for over a year now.

They have been appearing before the Yaounde military tribunal where they are facing charges of terrorism, secession, propagation of false news, insurrection, non-possession of National Identity Card and rebellion against the state.

 

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