BY JOHN KENNETH LUMA
The ongoing schism in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon between the Anglophone restoration forces, also known as Ambazonia fighters and government’s security forces seems to intensify in magnitude as days unfold, with growing concerns over serious human rights violations.
The crisis, which started in 2016 with a strike action by Common Law Lawyers and Anglophone Teachers against marginalization, has metamorphosed into an arm conflict. Anglophones from all walks of life including Southern Cameroon National Council, SCNC, members, the clergy have been killed in cross- fire between government security forces and separatist fighters, while others have been arrested by government security operatives and or kidnapped by separatist fighters. These attacked have been so alarming that human rights groups across the board have concluded that Cameroon is no longer safe.
At a time when the United Nations, UN, the United States of America, USA, and other international and national bodies are calling on the government to initiate a meaningful and inclusive dialogue to resolve the Anglophone problem, taking into consideration that the recommendation of the just concluded Major National Dialogue is still to be implemented, the latter has rather resorted to more sophisticated military operations to crackdown on Ambazonia fighters.
As the tensions intensify, the civilian population in these regions remains in peril, panic and pandemonium. While a cross section of the population has taken on mass exodus to French speaking towns and cities in Cameroon, others have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees. Reports published by human right groups, recently, indicate that over 3000 persons have so far been killed, hundreds kidnapped, thousands of houses and over 300 villages razed with over 530000 persons identified as Internally Displaced persons, IDP’s, with over 35000 as refugees in Nigeria. Some have been left in constant tears either for the demise of their loved ones or because their houses have been razed.
Such is the case of the Egbe’s family in Konye-Meme Division, South West Region. The dwelling of this family in Konye Subdivision was allegedly razed to ashes in February 2018 by government’s security forces. Just few days after the ordeal, the Egbe’s family has been seriously hit with the death of their daughter and sister Egbe Clara who was reportedly shot on October 7 ,2018 in Konye by security forces. The reasons and circumstances surrounding the death of the deceased are yet to be unraveled. Several sources however, hold that government forces believe there is strong collaboration between the deceased, and her siblings with the restoration movement. Even some 40 SCNC youths including Elume Ebou who flee the country in between 2011 and 2013 are reported to be under security operatives search light for propagating secession and restoration of Southern Cameroon Statehood.
Clergymen and women have equally been caught in the web of the crisis with many already tagged enemies to the regime.
Reverend Father Nyuykongmo Gerald Jumbam of the Roman Catholic Church in Cameroon, priest of the Diocese of Kumbo, North West Region, is currently under security searchlight, reports say. The former Principal of St Rita’s Catholic Technical High School Nkambe, Donga Mantung Division who has been in Rome -Italy since 2013 for further studies has been declared an enemy of the Regime.
His publications and write -ups on the plight of the people of Southern Cameroons vis a vis the Independence of Southern Cameroon since 2017 have caused the government to tag him a secessionist. They have thus, declared him wanted. The one time vocal and outspoken correspondent of L’effort Camerounaise , a Catholic Journal, and Presenter of a political and religious debate program over Nkambe Community Radio, is likely stand trial at the Yaounde military tribunal and subsequently be handed heavy jail sentence, if found in Cameroon, reports hold. This means that he will be subjected to a similar plight like the Ambazonian leaders who were extradited from Nigeria in 2018 and sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of terrorism, secession, propagation of false information and revolution.
Meanwhile, close aides to the Jumbam’s family have disclosed that the military keeps making impromptu visits to the family compound in Kumbo, even though his parents have long relocated out of the country. As the crisis intensifies, the military is reported to have razed the Jumbam family compound in one of their impromptu checks.
It should be recalled that many Clergymen and women are going through tough times amidst the crisis. They are either kidnapped or killed. The recent case was that of the arrest of Rev Father Paul Njokikang, Coordinator of the Catholic Agency for International Aid and Development, CARITAS, on Sunday October 20, 2019.