BY LUSY LUMA
The North West and South West regions of Cameroon have remained restive since 2017, following what is now known as the Anglophone Crisis. Latest statistics from National and International Human Rights bodies indicate that over 3000 civilians have been killed with about 730000 displaced, beside many living horrible lives in neighbouring Nigeria due to the arm conflict.
Meanwhile, many human rights groups and non-governmental organisations have condemned extrajudicial killings, by mostly the military, on innocent civilians including local politicians, youths, children and pregnant women, and the burning of houses. One of such was on February 14, 2020, when the Cameroon military with the assistance of 30 armed fulani militiamen stormed the village of Ngarbuh IN the North West Region of Cameroon and killed 21 civilians including 13 children and a pregnant woman. This received widespread condemnation across the board including the UN Secretary General, the UN High Commissioners for Human Rights, the European Union, the USA, UK, France, and the Nobel Women’s Initiative. Despite documented compelling evidence published by New York Times Journal and corroborated by Human Rights Watch, the New Humanitarian Cameroonian Civil Society Organisation and the Catholic Church accusing the Cameroon army for the massacre, the Government has formally denied her responsibility for the killings in Ngarbuh.
This, couple with the massacre of seven children at the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba last October, has made life in the regions unsafe. In the midst of these, the Government is said to have revisited the cases of many politicians, accusing some Cameroonian youths at home and abroad for being the hidden hands behind these atrocities. They are reports that relatives of suspected youths abroad have been subjected to frequent arrests and are their coerced to disclose the whereabouts of those they suspects are having a hand in the killings.
A case in point is that of Mbatkam Jackson Ntonga, a political activist and Vice President of the National Alliance for Democracy and Progress for Kumba II Sub Division, who left for the Cameroon Renaissance Movement political party after suspecting that his party hierarchy was negotiating for an alliance with the ruling party against his wish. Due to Mr. Mbatkam’s pivotal role in his new party, militants of the ruling Cameroon People Democratic Movement, CPDM, came calling for him to join them. His refusal attracted so much hate from the party militants, who are pre-dominantly government officials. This culminated to his arrest, molestation, and placement under degrading and inhumane detention conditions by government forces. For fear of the unknown, family sources say he travelled out of the country in October 2019. Out of love for father land, Mr. Mbatkam is said to have returned in February 2020 but was again arrested by government forces in March 2020 detained and manhandled under degrading inhumane conditions, which landed him in the hospital.
While in the Hospital, THE SUN gathered that Mbatkam Jackson, conspired with the Doctor and escaped from the hospital, before making his way out of the country again with the assistance of a friend. Mbatkam’s family seems to be paying a heavy price for his escape as the wife, Bakune Lucy Ntonga, has reportedly been arrested several times to disclose the where about of her husband. Family sources say Mbatkam Jackson’s is constantly monitored by the military, who have promised to severely deal with him if found.
Another Cameroonian in the Government’s dragnet is Egbe Sonia Ebot, holder of an Msc in Applied Geology from the university of Buea. Reports have it that she left Cameroon in September 2019 to an unknown destination for fear of being arrested, tortured, and sexually harassed again by Cameroon security agents and separatist fighters as was the case in 2018.
As the story goes, Ebot and her Nigerian based uncle were tagged members of the separatist movement by security elements and arrested at a checkpoint on their way from Buea to Douala after search their phones. They were later released and her uncle vamoosed to Nigeria but eye witness accounts hold that Egbe had a degrading inhumane encounter with the officers at the same checkpoint on her way back from Douala. This experience made many to conclude that her life was no longer safe in Cameroon.
Not long after the incident at the police check point, it was again reported that Egbe was manhandled during a sporadic exchange between separatist fighters and the military on the heels of the publication of the name of incumbent President, Paul Biya, on the list of presidential candidates. THE SUN has it on good record that her situation was so critical that she ended up in the hospital, and till date her where about is cloudy but sources say she might be in Europe or America. This is similar to other youths of her generation like Fongang Njiki Nina Carole and a host of others whose family relations are still in doubt about their welfare.
The government and its security forces believe the crisis on the country is being fanned from abroad and had embarked on attacking family members of some Anglophone Cameroonians resident overseas. Many youths who went abroad to peruse further studies are equally caught in the web of the crisis and have been advised not to return home until there is a lasting solution through frank and inclusive dialogue. As the crisis rages on, Human Rights Watch have documented multiple abusive counter insurgency operations by the security forces in the North West Region since 2017, which its Central Africa Director, Lewis Mudge, has never failed to condemn. Meantime, the Government has launched a man hunt for those alleged to be fanning the crisis both at home and abroad, with terrorism charges to be leveled against them if arrested as they have been declared wanted. Recently, French President Emmanuel Macron promised to exert “maximum pressure& on President Paul Biya of Cameroon, to end Cameroon’s intolerable human rights violations.