Military launches manhunt for members of village vigilante movement

NEWS 29 Apr 2020
Military launches manhunt for members of village vigilante movement

By LUSI LIMA

 

The Anglophone crisis that started with the Common Law lawyers’ and Anglophone teachers’ strike over the marginalisation of the Anglophones better still Southern Cameroonians in 2016 has spiraled into an armed conflict.

As tension rages on now for close to three years in the restive North West and South West regions, several calls have been made for all the protagonists to embrace peace for a better and new Cameroon. But things seem to have fallen on deaf ears as the armed conflict between the separatist fighters and the defence forces rages on with multiple deaths recorded on both sides and houses razed to the ground, villages burnt down and Internally Displaced Persons, IDP’s, increasing by the day.

The government and the military, over the years,are sparing no effort in tracking down those considered as the agents of the destruction of Cameroon. Several charges have been leveled against them. These include propagation of false information, rebellion, revolution, secession, insurrection and non-possession of National Identity card. Even those abroad considered as activists and preaching against the marginalisation of Southern Cameroons by the Yaounde regime have equally been declared enemies of the State of Cameroon and have been tagged for persecution.

The story of 32 year-old BetomboIsaac Etongwe from EkombeBomji is worrisome. Reports hold that he had to escape to an unknown destination in March 2018 due to the crisis rocking the North West and South West Regions (Southern Cameroon), which separatists have christened “Federal Republic of Ambazonia”.

Sources hinted THE SUN thatBetombo Isaac was the Assistant President of the Ekombe vigilante group, a voluntary village security movement created in 2000 to guarantee security of the village.

However, according to sources, in EkombeBonji, Mbonge Sub Division, Meme Division of the South West Region, at the dawn of the outbreak of the Anglophone crisis, the military is said to have attacked the village just like many other villages in the area. They ransacked houses while burning others and arrested many youths and subjected them to inhumane treatment and equally killed others.

Betombo Isaac Etongwe amongst the 36 vigilante group members of Ekombe declared wanted by the regime.

It is against this background that members of the Ekombe vigilante group went on the defensive and attacked the military. The youths, reports say, attacked the military and the clash between the military and the vigilante group went deadly with casualties on both sides. This caused the military to storm the Ekombe – Bonji village traditional council and collected the list bearing the name of all the members of the vigilante group.

As we went to press sources disclosed that the military is constantly making rounds at the neighbourhoodwhereBetombo Isaac Etongwelived and mounting pressure on his family to disclose his whereabouts.Betombo Isaac and many other members of the Ekombevigilante group including Sakwe Moses, Nanje Philip, Mekumba Emmanuel, James Elongeand 36 others have been declared wanted by the regime. If arrested, they will be tried in a military tribunal under the anti-terrorism law whose maximum punishment is the death sentence.

As the crisis rages on, report of a survey released by a group of human rights organisations in Cameroon indicates that the lives of activists of Anglophone origin are now in danger.

Recent statistics by civil society organisations reflect the extent of the damage with horrific numbers. The death toll is on the rise while there are claims that about 200 villages have been burnt down in the two regions, and some 430,000 people remain internally displaced with thousands of English-speaking Cameroonians having fled to neighbouring Nigeria where they are living as refugees.

 

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