9, May 2022
When the Southern Cameroons crisis started in 2016, nobody ever thought Amba fighters who proclaimed that they would protect the population against all odds would be the ones kidnapping and killing their own people.
When the crisis morphed into an armed conflict, many in Southern Cameroons knew the enemy and, indeed, the guilty party regarding the killing of civilians was the alcohol-inflamed, sex-starved and trigger-happy military.
The Cameroon army was desperate to demonstrate that it was winning the war and this pushed its desperate soldiers into firing at innocent and armless civilians even in the centers of the cities, resulting in thousands of senseless deaths.
The military had a point to prove and it resorted to all criminal and unconventional means to achieve its despicable goal.
Houses were burnt and, in many cases, whole villages were burn down. Sometimes, the elderly who could not seek refuge in the bushes were roasted in their own homes.
The atrocities committed by the military were indeed despicable. Many people will forever remember Kwa-Kwa in the Southwest region where an elderly lady was incinerated by the military in her home.
In the Northwest region, the military put its inhumanity on display when children and pregnant women were killed in Ngarbuh, a remote locality far from the Northwest regional capital of Bamenda.
Thanks to International pressure and investigations conducted by international human rights groups, the government yielded, admitting that its forces had operated in Ngarbuh and that those atrocities were the handiwork of a desperate military that was seeking to give Amba fighters a very bad name.
But over the last three years, Amba fighters who had been considered as saviors have been a millstone around the neck of the Southern Cameroonian population.
These reckless criminals who pass off as Amba fighters have been killing and maiming civilians for money, creating a state of general terror in the two English-speaking regions of the country.
Even responsible people who have helped the Amba course like Barrister Paddy Yong who has served as a lead lawyer for Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe and his entourage have been kidnapped and taken to the jungle.
The so-called fighters have now become a terror on their own people. Once you get kidnapped, they ask for huge sums of money as if millions are easy to come by in any part of the world.
In Barrister Paddy Yong’s case, the ruthless and criminal elements who took him to the jungle asked for CFAF 1.7 million, a sum he could not give. His crime was that he was not supporting the struggle but there is no rule which states that every Southern Cameroonian must openly display his support for the course and there is no database wherein it could be verified if someone had actually supported the course.
Thanks to pressure from the Diaspora, especially Southern Cameroonians living in America, Barrister Yong was released but not before he received days of inhuman torture in the hands of the Amba criminals. Today, he is suffering from all types of illnesses and nightmares.
These days, many people living out of Southern Cameroons do not venture into the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon because of the violence Amba fighters are wreaking on their own people.
Southern Cameroonians living in the Diaspora do not even think of going home now because they know they have two major enemies – the military and Amba fighters – who are equally dangerous.
Even those who lose their loved ones dare not go home. The military may accuse them of funding the struggle while reckless Amba fighters will kidnap them for a ransom.
The Diaspora has been caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. The irresponsible fighters have been created by the very Diaspora which feels threatened today and the military is still mad at the Diaspora for enabling the fighters to put up a good fight for five years.
The Diaspora cannot even go home to give its dead a decent burial. Amba fighters are a big issue. What used to be as luscious as locust is today as bitter as coloquintida.
Amba fighters are now criminals who must be tried in the same courts as the military. All their financiers must be identified and taken to court for legal action.
While it is unquestionable that Southern Cameroonians have suffered a lot of discrimination in a highly centralized and dictatorial Republic of Cameroon, there is just no justification for Amba fighters to make the fate of Southern Cameroonians worse by kidnapping them and spreading fear and death in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai and Asu Isong