By NOELA E. BISONG & SAH T. ANIMBOM
The Social Democratic Front SDF party of John Fru Ndi has indeed been caught in the middle of the sea. A veritable Anglophone opposition party which has since the advent of multipartism in Cameroon been echoing the Anglophone problem and tasking the government of President Biya to give a listening ear to the needs of the English speaking minority in the country, is today carrying the weight of the excesses of some who believe the fight is theirs, and it’s either their way, or the high way.
From the number one militant of the party, John Fru Ndi, to other senior militants, each has in fact been receiving their own bundle of the venom of some separatists, orchestrated in kidnappings, arson attacks, insults, threats and outright humiliation of SDF militants, making many to look back to the glorious days of the SDF with nostalgia.
Few weeks to the February 9 rendezvous, being overwhelmed with frustration as to the turnout of events coupled with ill health, The SUN gathered that John Fru Ndi is currently out of the country, to be back in July, at the earliest.
Since the release of decree number 2019/612 of 10, November 2019 to convene the electorate for the election of Members of Parliament and Municipal Councillors issued by president Paul Biya, and following the decision by the SDF to run for the said elections despite their hitherto position of leveraging the return to peace in the North West and South West Regions as a prerequisite for their participation in the planned February 9, 2020 elections, many SDF militants especially in the North West region have been forced to denounce their candidature from Municipal or Parliamentary lists. This was in line with what was termed a mass social media declination by many curious observers in the two restive regions of the country for about a period of one week.
The trend was however more brutal or harder on more senior members of the party like mayors and parliamentarians who did not denounce their candidature as instructed by separatist fighters. Just as recently as January 5, 2020, Issa Chou, the mayor of Babessi council in Ngoketunjia Division alongside four or more of his councillors were kidnapped by armed men believed to be ‘Ambazonian Restoration fighters’, in a bid to stop them from participating in the February 9 poles.
On same night of January 5, 2020, the house of the Member of Parliament for Bafut and Tubah constituency, Hon. Fusi Namukong in Mankwi Bafut was also set ablaze by armed men also believed to be ‘Amba fighters’.
Between December 11 and 18, 2019 when the SDF leadership issued a release calling on the party members to compile their lists and prepare to run for the twin elections, the houses of two key members of the party in the North West region; Mayor Njong Donatus of Kumbo council had his tobin business premises building was set ablaze while Hon. Joseph Mbah Ndam in the Batibo constituency had his house set ablaze as a warning sign to whoever was still planning on running. It will be the second time mayor Njong Donatus is suffering from the hands of the boys, as he was kidnapped in October 2018 by ‘Amba boys’ on his way to Bamenda.
Still within the same period of December 11 and 18, 2019, the mayor of Bamenda II, Balick Awa Fidelis was kidnapped with some of his councillors on Thursday, December 12, 2019, while first deputy mayor of Bamenda III and four councillors were kidnapped on Monday December 16, 2019 alongside 15 other councillors in Jakiri council area in Bui division. Armed separatists claimed responsibility for the abductions on social media, and stated that the hostages will remain in their keeping until after general elections scheduled for February 9, this year.
It is worth noting that since the escalation of the Anglophone crisis and a sharp shift from the demand for federalism by Anglophones to outright independence, the SDF party has suffered many attacks beginning with their own once cherished and highly respected Chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi. He has been abducted and tortured several times by Ambazonian fighters and demanded to order his MPs to leave parliament, and he has remained the only person that was in ‘Amba’ captivity and never yielded to their pressure. His livestock has been stolen in Boyo, Menchum and his native Baba I hometown with his main residence in Ntarinkon suffering an attempted arson attack that saw only the burning of part of his kitchen. However, his Baba I residence was completely reduced to ashes. His brother and sister have also been kidnapped and tortured in a bid to break the old man, yet he has remained rooted to his initial stand of federalism as the way out of the Anglophone deadlock.