BY TALLA AGHAA CHRISTOPHER
The Anglophone crisis that started in 2016 with Common Law Lawyers and Teachers in the North West and South West regions decrying marginalization from the Francophone-dominated government has been transformed into an arm conflict with some Anglophones calling for secession and the creation of a separate state called Ambazonia, otherwise known as Southern Cameroon.
As tensions in these restive regions rage unabated, the government has embarked on a protracted mission to fish out sympathisers and activists backing the course for the restoration of the independence of Southern Cameroon.
The gun battle in the two Anglophone regions is in its third year with no end in sight. The number of shooting, abductions and arrests keep soaring, with the military finding it difficult to differentiate between innocent civilians especially youths, students, nurses and separatist fighters. Many young people have been caught in the web. They have either been taken by stray bullets or mistaken for members of the gun-carrying-militia and killed in cold blood.
Life for many living in these restive regions is a miracle given that each new day comes with its own challenges. Today many homes in these regions have been broken with women left drawn in tears. They have been looking for their husbands and children who are either missing or dead.The outskirts of towns like Buea, Kumba, 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 to rattle.
Those arrested in connection to the crisis have been considered as terrorists and numerous trump up charges levied against them. These charges often include but not limited to propagation of false information, revolution, insurrection, secession and non-possession of National Identity Card.
For fear of the unknown, considering the jail term awaiting suspected activists, many have relocated to unknown destinations after having been declared wanted by the Yaounde regime.
The tale of Njogho Tebo Mba -Ando and Vigiline Ngenyi Fotabongalem just like many others caught our attention as we seek to document the ordeals of youth caught in a war for no fault of theirs over issues relating to the Anglophone crisis.
The government, through security and judicial officials, has revisited their case and are bent on prosecuting them if arrested. For Njogho Tebo Mba- Ando, a student of the National Polytechnic Bamenda, North West Region, his where about, according to family sources remains cloudy, since July 2018.The student is reported to have, just like others, escaped to the village when separatist fighters stormed the school in broad daylight in early July 2018, and kidnapped students and lecturers in a bid to shut down schools.However, while in the village the military stormed the village when news filtered that the village health center was giving medical assistance to alleged Ambazonian warlords after having been wounded by the military. Reports from the village say when the military stormed the village they engaged in an indiscriminate arrest of youths between 15 to 40 years, which culminated in the arrest of Njogho Tebo, who was returning from the farm alongside other youths. Family sources revealed that they were subjected to inhumane treatment and while been whisked to an unknown destinations, Njogho Tebo escaped from the military truck as the military made a stop to arrest more youths who were found along the way, reports say. Njogho rushed to a health center for medication following pains he sustained from the military brutality. After about two weeks under medical attention in his hideout, he was advised to relocate to an unknown destinations for the days ahead was not going to be rosy for suspected Anglophone activists, especially youths of his age.
Another unfortunate youth trapped in the web due to the current crisis is Vigiline Ngenyi Fotabongalem, a nurse by profession. After having been subjected to numerous arrests and degrading inhumane conditions by the military due to her profession, Vigiline Ngenyi had no other choice than to relocate to an unknown location since June 6, 2018. This was after the military stormed their locality and razed to the ground the health unit she was working in her capacity as Senior Nurse, and some of her colleagues killed in the military raid.
Before the whereabout of Vigiline Ngenyi Fotabongalem became a misery according to reports, she just like many others have suffered from frequent military attacks while serving at the Banga Bakundu health center in the South West Region. Following the declaration of the independence of Southern Cameroon by separatist leaders on October 1,2017, the military raided the area and engaged in sporadic shooting living several persons injured and others killed as they broke into houses. It was as a result of this barbaric attitude of the military that Vigiline was raped and tortured.
As if this was not enough, the military equally raided the health unit months later, precisely in April, 2018, and arrested workers of the hospital including Vigiline Ngenyi for providing medical assistance to Ambazonian warlords. They were detained, molested and released three weeks after.
With government tightening the noose on separatist fighters and their sympathisers, the future promises to be pregnant.
It should be recalled that with the ongoing arm conflict in the two restive Anglophone regions, statistics indicate many Anglophones have become internally displaced. The death toll is on a perpetual rise while there are claims that about 150 villages have been burnt down and some 11000 people internally displaced with close to 45000 people as refugee in other countries.