From Chinje Hopeson in Bamenda
As the crisis rocking the North West and South West regions, which has morphed into an armed conflict, rages on, the government is intensifying its crackdown on all those suspected to have been among the organisers of the teachers’ strike in the restive English-speaking regions.
In this light, security operatives have been rounding up these teachers. Sources say the arrested teachers are being tortured and detained under horrendous and inhuman conditions. Some have reportedly died in detention. This has caused some of them to flee into hiding and the whereabouts of many is not known.
It is worth recalling that the Anglophone crisis, something that pundits say had been brewing for several years, boiled over in 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 regions, 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, president of Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA) and Dr. Fontem Niba, Secretary General of SYNES UB were immediately arrested while others such as Barrister Bobga Harmony, president of North West Lawyers Association (NOWELA), and Tassang Wilfred, Executive Secretary of Cameroon Teachers Trade Union (CATTU), and Tame Valentine, President of Teachers Association of Cameroon (TAC) fled into hiding.
But as the crackdown on the activists escalates, several cases have been reported.
One of such cases is that of Enow Napoleon Tiku, publicity secretary of the Teachers Association of Cameroon (TAC) for the South West region. Being among the key teachers opposing the educational policy of the government, Enow Napoleon Tiku played a major role in the orgainsation of the teachers strike in the South West region.
His involvement in the strike actions led to the issuing of a warrant of arrest for him on May 3, 2018. On May 5, 2018, he was arrested and detained at the mobile police unit in Buea. Lawyers representing him filled for bail on May 6, 2018.
However, on May 11, 2018, while the bail was still pending, Enow Napoleon Tiku escaped from detention under unclear circumstances. Since then the police and other security forces have launched a manhunt for him.
The security forces are said to be bent on tracking down Enow Napoleon Tiku. If arrested, he will be tried under the anti-terrorism law whose maximum penalty is the death sentence. That is if he is not killed outright like others who have suffered from extrajudicial killings.
It worth noting that the crisis in the North West and South West regions has left many killed, others internally displaced with some living in bushes while several thousands have fled to unknown destinations. Several thousands have crossed over to neighbouring Nigeria where they are living as refugees.
While the Anglophone crisis continues to escalate, international organisations and other western powers have called on the government to address the root cause through dialogue.