- Five officers allegedly arrested as investigations intensify
By Jonas Lima
Heads may roll within the ranks of security forces in Buea following investigations into the circumstances that led to the disappearance of a suspected Anglophone activist who was being held in detention.
A top security source who pleaded for anonymity for fear of reprisals told The SUN that a certain Akumengwa Neba Ntohnwi jumped detention Thursday, April 25, 2019 hours before he was to be sent to Yaounde.
“Some of the officers who were on duty have been put behind bars. Investigations have been opened. The high command is embarrassed at what happened and has given firm instructions as to how business will be conducted henceforth,” our source said.
The commander of the gendarmerie brigade where the suspect was detained is said to have been grilled by judicial police officers, given that a prison break is not likely to have taken place. Allegations are rife that the escape must have been an inside plot.
Akumengwa Neba Ntohnwi was dozens arrested by security forces following routine raids within the city of Buea to fish out suspected separatists believed to have infiltrated the area. We learnt soldiers were in the chase for separatist fighters who have since been fighting to restore a self-proclaimed state of Ambazonia, the territorial space of Cameroon’s English-speaking North West and South West Regions.
According to reliable information, the said Akumengwa Neba Ntohnwi was arrested on Friday, April 19, 2019 at the Mile 16 checkpoint. Sources at the judicial police say the suspect is a nurse who is believed to have been treating local fighters seeking a breakaway state.
Though our source said the evidence linking Akumengwa Neba Ntohnwi to the Ambazonia revolution remains sketchy, he said assorted information concerning the activities of the outlawed group were found in his phone and gadgets.
After the escape, locals say security forces masked and forced their way into homes, hostels and rooms in two targeted locations in Buea, dragging and beating their occupants.
Those arrested were transported in trucks to the gendarmerie legion, eyewitnesses said. It is not known the number of persons who were arrested, but judicial sources say they were being investigated for involvement in the separatist movement that has since turned into a militia. The escapee Akumengwa Neba Ntohnwi was unfortunately not among those recently taken into custody, a security source regretted.
Political tensions over cultural rights and identity have been growing in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions since 2016 when English-speaking lawyers, students and teachers began protesting against their under-representation and cultural marginalization by the Francophone-dominated government. Violent repression by the security forces resulted in arbitrary arrests, sexual violence, and the killing of several protesters.
Anglophone and Francophone Cameroon were unified in 1961, but there have been long-term disputes over the extent to which government resources and access to employment have been controlled by the French-speaking majority. Although the Anglophone minority constitutes 20 percent of the population of Cameroon, they are concentrated in the Northwest and Southwest regions. President Paul Biya has held power in Cameroon since 1982.
The recent crisis in Cameroon deepened after Anglophone separatists organized large-scale protests from 22 September to 1 October 2017 and symbolically proclaimed independence, establishing a state of “Ambazonia.” During the protests security forces responded with disproportionate and deadly force, leading to at least 40 deaths. Since then, violence between security forces and armed separatists has escalated. Government forces have arbitrarily arrested and tortured detainees, and destroyed a number of villages in the Anglophone regions.
Separatist forces have also killed at least 300 military personnel and attacked teachers for not participating in a separatist boycott. At least 40 schools in the Anglophone region have been burned down. Some armed separatist groups have kidnapped state officials and sought to make the Anglophone areas “ungovernable.” According to the UN, more than 500,000 people have fled their homes as a result of the ongoing violence with more than 50,000 others seeking refuge out of Cameroon.