10, January 2018
Cameroon’s English-speaking regions are observing a three-day “dead city” protest against the arrest of a number of separatist leaders in Nigeria last week, local media reported.
At least 10 Cameroonian separatists, among them leader Julius Tabe, were arrested in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the activists said in a statement on Sunday.
In protest of the move, the English-speaking separatists urged the population to stay at home from Monday through Wednesday.
“For fear of reprisals, we remained at home. Everything is calm on the streets … Banks, travel agencies and shops are closed. Only security forces are patrolling the streets,” Musa Abu, a Bamenda resident told Anadolu Agency late Monday.
The strike also affected the reopening of schools that had been scheduled for Monday, Jan. 8.
“The school was opened early in the morning, but the students did not come. We were forced to close it, otherwise the building would have been burned by activists,” Tatou Godlove, the principal of the Bafut High School in the Northwest Region said.
Ayaba Acho, the so-called defense minister of the self-proclaimed Republic of Ambazonia, said Nigeria should not extradite “our leaders” to Cameroon, because they “are not” Cameroonians.
“They are Ambazonians,” he said referring to the Northwest and Southwest Regions. “We are in the process of increasing contacts with the Federal Government of Nigeria for their release”.
The government has also shut down the Internet in the two English-speaking regions in the Central African state.
Protests have been going on for more than a year in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions. The Anglophone minority say they are being marginalized by the Francophone majority.
The protesters are calling for a return to federalism or the independence of the English-speaking Cameroon, which the demonstrators refer to as the “Republic of Ambazonia”.
French Cameroon gained its independence From France in 1960. In 1961, a federal state was set up when British Cameroon gained its independence from Great Britain and joined French Cameroon.
The federal state was later dissolved in favor of a unitary state in 1972.
Since then, English-speakers say they are being marginalized, forced to use French in public institutions and schools, and also use the French-Cameroon legal system in courts.