BY TALLA AGHAA CHRISTOPHER
Since the outbreak of the Anglophone crisis following the teachers and lawyers strike in 2016 in the North West and South West regions, the government of Cameroon has been multiplying efforts to track down Anglophone activists and bring them to justice, while striving to arrest the situation.
Reports hold that the crisis, though provoked by Common Law Lawyers and Teachers of Anglophone regions, who were decrying the marginalization of Anglophones by the Francophone-dominated government, the government has tagged the Southern Cameroon National Council, SCNC, a secessionist movement that have been advocating for the independence of Southern Cameroon since 1993 as the hidden hands behind the strike action. It has thus, engaged in the mass arrest of SCNC activists and other Anglophones activists forcing many others to go underground while some have been declared missing, according to family sources, as their where about remains cloudy.
The government recently declared open the files of many SCNC and Anglophone activists including a renowned Human Right Activist, Ephraim Sama Billa, as tensions in the North West and South West regions rage unabated.
The where about of Mr. Sama, who joined the SCNC in January 2013 remains a misery since July 2018, going by family sources. The holder of Masters degree in Regional Integration and Management of Community Institutions from the International Relations Institute, IRIC, Yaounde and Youth Worker with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, reportedly, attended SCNC meetings, participated in its discussions and was deeply involved in the dissemination of SCNC flyers, sales of SCNC referendum cards, the creation of data base for interested SCNC members. He is also said to have raised funds and prepared memoranda to make the Southern Cameroon case considered at the International scene through educative seminars to reach out to youths in some parts of Southern Cameroon, though under cover because of his government status.
On September 22, 2017,a peaceful demonstration took place throughout Southern Cameroon, organized by the Southern Cameroon Interim Government to reawaken the international community on the need for the Restoration of the Southern Cameroon Statehood. This demonstration, which culminated in October 1 2017, the date said aside for the Independence of Southern Cameroon ,later turned bloody with many killed, hundreds wounded, some abducted, others declared across several localities in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon including Njinikom where Ephraim Sama Billa was working.
It was later discovered this fire-brand activist was amongst those arrested for masterminding the October 1 protest. After being through spiteful and degrading detention conditions Mr. Sama was released sometimes in November, 2017, thanks to the intervention of his hierarchy. Barely three months after leaving prison, Ephraim Billa Sama, was again, apprehended in Njinikom following the brutal killing of two gendarmerie officers at a check point in Mbingo village, February 13, 2018,by suspected separatist fighters. He was detained -incommunicado for six weeks under horrible conditions and charged with terrorism offences for instigating youths to join the Ambazonian Defence Forces.
The SUN has it on good record that withcomplicity of a security officer, Mr. escaped from jail but was tracked down , June 30 2018, and incarcerated in Ndop. While plans were underway to transfer them to the dreaded Yaounde Kondengui Prison to subsequently face trial at the Military Court, the Ndop Prison was attacked by Separatist Fighters in search of weaponry, July 28, 2018 and that’s how he and other inmates escaped from the jail.
Since the disappearance of Ephraim Sama Billa, security officers have intensified impromptu checks around their family residence in Ndop and Mbonda to possibly lay hold of him again, family sources disclosed.
Cameroon which was once internationally praised as one of the most peaceful countries in the world is now struggling to cope with untold causalities from what many qualify as an unrelenting and insidious conflict. Some organizations are even recommending that Cameroon is no longer safe for any activists.
Recent statistics by civil society organizations reflect the extent of the damage with horrific numbers. The death toll is on a perpetual rise while there are claims that about 200 villages have been burnt down in the two regions, and some 430.000 people remain internally displaced with a mover 30,000 English Speaking Cameroonians assuming refugee status in Nigeria.