BY TRACY ANNIE
As the crisis that has been rocking the North West and South West regions, which has spiraled into an armed conflict, rages on, the government has resorted to track down all those suspected of sponsoring the Ambazonia independence struggle.
The government has also stepped up its crackdown on all those suspected to be activists or sympathisers to the Anglophone cause.
In this light, security operatives have been indiscriminately arresting and detaining such suspects. This has caused many of them to flee into hiding and the whereabouts of many is not known.
Sources say the arrested are being tortured and detained under horrendous and inhuman conditions. Some have reportedly died in detention.
It is worth recalling that the Anglophone crisis, something that pundits say had been brewing for several years, boiled over in October 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 and Dr. Fontem Niba were immediately arrested while others such as Barrister Bobga Harmony and Tassang Wilfred fled into hiding.
But as the crackdown on the activists and suspected sponsors escalates, several cases have been reported.
A case in point is that of Abang Sheila, who came back to the country from Saudi Arabia, but has been accused by security forces of having brought in funds to sponsor Ambazonia separatist fighters.
Back in the country after her stay in Saudi Arabia, Abang Sheila on June 4, 2019 went to her village to visit her parents. But during her stay there, one day, as early as 6 a.m., the village is said to have been raided by the military. The military is said to have shot and killed many of the villagers.
Abang Sheila, who was fortunate to have been at the stream to fetch water when the raid and killings took place, is said to have, together with other villagers, escaped into the forest.
The Sun gathered that Abang Sheila’s parent’s house was raided and burnt down by the military as they were looking for her, after accusing her of having brought funds to sponsor Ambazonia separatist fighters. Her father and mother, Abang John and Abang Comfort respectively were also accused of being symperthisers of the Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC.
For fear of her life, Abang Sheila is said to have fled and her whereabouts is not known. The whereabouts of her parents is also not known. If arrested, Abang Sheila will be tried in a military tribunal under the anti-terrorism law whose maximum sentence is the death penalty, that is if she is not killed outright like many others who have been victims of extra-judicial killings.
It should be recalled that leaders of the Anglophone separatist movements including Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and nine others, who were arrested in Abuja, Nigeria in January 2018 and later extradited to Yaounde, are currently detained at the Kondengui maximum security prison from where they have been attending trial at the Yaounde military tribunal.
It is also worth noting that many people, both civilians and security forces, have been killed in the crisis, many more internally displaced and over 30,000 have fled 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 of the crisis through dialogue.