By DOH JAMES SONKEY
Following recent riots by inmates at the Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé and the Buea Main Prison last July 22 and 23, 2019, respectively, the President of the Republic, Paul Biya has ordered government to take special measures to accelerate judicial proceedings and decongest prisons in Cameroon.
The revelation was made by Government Spokesperson, Minister Rene Emmanuel Sadi of Communication last August 2, 2019 at his ministry in Yaounde during a press briefing to update the public on the situation.
According to the communication boss, the president has given orders “to accelerate ongoing judicial proceedings, rigorously monitor the strengthening of disciplinary measures in all penitentiary institutions in the country, strengthen and modernize the means of controlling and monitoring the prisoners, decongest the various prisons with proven overcrowding, strongly ban the entry and use of all tools and ingredients prohibited in prisons by the regulations in force.”
The Minister explained that “on July 22, 2019, a group of persons held in remand following the security unrest in the North-West and South-West Regions, after having declared itself to be the bearer of complaints to be submitted to high 3 State authorities, turned into a radical and violent insurgency.”
He said Forces of Law and Order used modern deterrence tools, with composure, tact and professionalism to limit the extent of the damage caused by the detainees who turned down calls for calm and completely resisted dialogue initiated by the officials of the prison administration and the competent administrative authorities, “vehemently demanding their release and then undertook to spread panic within the prison with the aim of provoking a massive escape of the detainees.”
Explaining that “The inmates identified as being the leaders of this insurgency, 177 people on the day of the events, and 67 thereafter, for a total of 244 insurgents, have been handed over to the police and gendarmerie services for questioning”, the Minister said they have all been heard now, and the various investigations almost completed. “Final procedural checks are being completed as well”, he revealed.
He further revealed that several inmates were found in possession of items including huge sums of money, many communication devices, including mobile phones, chips, chargers and phone batteries, USB keys, internet keys, memory cards; electronic devices including computers, laptops, tablets, edged weapons including daggers, knives, hacksaws, screwdrivers, punches, razors, spikes, a significant amount of Indian hemp and cigarettes, tear gas at the end of the various routine searches carried out by the competent authorities within the Kondengui Central Prison.
Insisting that there was no human loss in any of the incidents, Minister Sadi said two elements of the security forces were injured, and 43 inmates among the insurgents were wounded, of which, twenty were immediately taken care of at the prison infirmary, and another inmate rushed to a nearby hospital in the city of Buea for medical attention.
He reassured that “the health condition of all the injured has greatly improved, while the usual procedures initiated against the 20 insurgents identified as the leaders have also been closed.”
It should be recalled that a couple of Press Release were made public by some separatist leaders last week, following the prison riots, during which they tasked the government to account for ‘dead’ and ‘missing’ inmates who are being incarcerated following the Anglophone crisis. The leaders had gone ahead to declare ghost towns as well as more doom in the two already suffering regions if their reguests are not met. The movement by government, some hold therefore, is in reaction to the barking of the separatist leaders.