BY CYNTHIA AKUM
The increasing molestation, kidnapping and or beheading of youths termed black legs by separatist fighters on the one hand, and their arrest, torture and trial at military tribunals for allegedly siding with separatist fighters by the military on the other hand, has induced untold fear among youths in the crisis-stricken North West and South West regions of Cameroon. This has forced many to flee for safety to more secured parts of the country, while others have simply gone underground.
The Anglophone crisis, which has been rocking the North West and South West regions of Cameroon for over three years and counting, started as strike action by Common Law Lawyers and Anglophone Teachers against marginalisation and later metamorphosed into an arm conflict.
Reports from human rights groups say over 3000 members of the Southern Cameroon National Council, businessmen, nurses, youths and the clergy have been killed in the cross- fire between security forces and separatist fighters, hundreds kidnapped, thousands of houses and over 300 villages razed. Meanwhile, over 53000 persons have been identified as Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, and over 35000 as refugees in Nigeria.
The Cameroon Government has been battling to arrest the situation which continues to degenerate as each day passes. Attacks have been so alarming that human rights groups across the board have concluded that Cameroon is longer safe.
As tensions intensify, civilian population in these regions are in peril, panic and pandemonium with more and more youths escaping to unknown destinations for fear of both military and separatist fighters’ barbarism.
The whereabouts of a 20- year-old orphan from Essoh Attah village in the Lebialem Division of Cameroon, Nkemazem Robert, remains a conjecture since May, 2019. Reports hold that Separatist fighters engulfed their village in 2017 and forced him to join them, but his grandmother pleaded that Robert was an orphan and the only one taking care of her.
The SUN gathered from authoritative sources that separatist fighters commonly called “amba boys” only left Robert in the village after his grandmother begged with FCFA 30000.
Later in 2018, Essoh Attah was transformed into the headquarter of the Amba fighters.This caused the military to launch repeated attacks to capture the leader of the separatist fighters in the village, which culminated in the arrest of youths, who were taken to the Menji detention center,and the burning of houses.
It later filtered from family sources that Robert was arrested amongst other youths on April 22, 2019 and tortured mercilessly before being transferred to the Menji detention center under inhumane conditions.The SUN has it on good record that he later escaped from the detention thanks to a uniform officer who knew his late father, and till date, his location remains cloudy. Meanwhile, security operatives have declared him wanted.
As press time, it was reported that the Cameroon Government through judicial and police officers have revisited the case of the leader of a youth association in Mutengene, Fako Division Southwest Region,Nkengang Eric Nkengazem E., who organised a peaceful demonstration on August 2018, to protest against the atrocities of the military in the area.
Nkengang Eric, a Veterinary Nurse from the Lebialem Division-South West Region ralliedand protested againstindiscriminate killing of youths by the military with placards and peace plants. While in the peaceful demonstration, the military confronted them and opened fire. Many protesters were arrested, others killed but fortunately Nkengang Eric and others ran into the bush, and since then his exact location is yet to be known. Report has it that after making impromptu visits to track him down to no avail, the military razed their house and accused him for being one of those who organised the peaceful demonstration that till date, has turned the whole locality into chaos. There are all indications that if arrested, he will face terrorism charges and be handed life jail sentence, like the case of some separatist leaders.