19, February 2018
The killings in the English-speaking part of Cameroon have continued unabated despite the arrest and extradition of Southern Cameroons leaders to Cameroon. It was reported yesterday that a young gendarme officer, Jean Claude Degoume,had been killed in Talangaye in Manyu Division, a small town located some 50 km from Mamfe town, the Manyu Divisional headquarters.
Members of the Amba Tigers who carried out the killing informed our Dublin office that their main target in Mamfe was Joseph Oum II, the Manyu Senior Divisional Officer, who had asked the people of Manyu to pack out of their towns to unknown destinations in a press release he issued late last year. The young fighters, who elected anonymity, said taking down Mr. Oum II “would be a great pleasure,asthe deletion of such a personality from the face of the earth would bring more credibility to our organization.”
They added that “even the South West Governor, Okala Bilal, is a fair target. He has insulted out people and he should not be allowed to get away with that. We have a price on his head and anybody who takes him down will take that price. Our sponsors in the Diaspora are doing a great job raising money for us and that is what is helping us to send strong messages to the government.”
“We know we will get him. He will surely let down his guard and we will chop him down like a piece of meat. You don’t call our people dogs and you think you will get away with that. He is in our cross hairs and we will surely get him,” they said.
Meanwhile, contrary to initial reports that the body of the kidnapped Divisional Officer (D.O) of Batibo, Mr. Namata Marcel Delong, had been found in Sabes, our source in Sabes in the Upper Bayang sub-division confirmed that a group of Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) troops currently wreaking havoc in Sabes had been brought there to arrest a group of robbers who were threatening the locals and a defected soldier who had joined Amba Tigers. There is no information yet as to whether the robbers and the defected soldier have been arrested or not.
Similarly, the family of the former D.O of Batibo who had been kidnapped by some unknown gunmen is devastated following reports that his body had been discovered. Mr. Delong’s wife had called for the release of her husband on national TV, arguing that her husband was a good man who was simply serving his country, but opponents of the regime argue that he is part of the collateral damage insofar as he is on the side of the Yaounde government.
The discovery of her husband’s remains clearly indicate that her calls had fallen on deaf ears. This also underscores that Anglophone separatists are determined to achieve their goal, regardless of the method and he who is serving the Yaounde government is immediately considered as an enemy.
Meanwhile, the 85 year-old President, Paul Biya,last week appointed Ernest Nkwandze, as the interim Divisional Officer for Batibo in Momo Division following the abduction of Mr. Namata Marcel Diteng on February 11, 2018, by unknown gunmen. Mr. Nkwandze was installed on February 14, 2018, by the North-West Governor, Adolphe Lélé Lafrique.
The governor reportedly held a working session with traditional authorities and security officials of the Batibo district and pleaded with the chiefs as well as the population to work in collaboration with the security forces by providing them reliable information in their effort to locate the kidnapped divisional officer.
In the meantime, there are still doubts about the whereabouts of Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya. Despite having delivered a speech on February 10, 2018, and the posting of pictures of his birthday party at the Unity Palace online, many Cameroonians are still skeptical about the whereabouts of the country’s president.
Critics of the dictator point out that the picture used to support the assertion that Mr. Biya had celebrated his birthday was photo-shopped, arguing that Mr. Biya and his government are used to manipulating Cameroonians.
The doubts about Mr. Biya’s health went up by a few notches a few days ago when it was announced that Mr. Biya had received a senior German embassy official. But many analysts said the pictures were those of 2014, a point which only goes to underscore that there is something really wrong with the 85-year-old president.
Similarly, the Southern Cameroons crisis is still playing out in the country’s English-speaking regions with armed men attacking soldiers in the rural regions.
Since October 2016 when the crisis started, more than 500 civilians have been killed, several villages torched by retaliating soldiers, and some 300 uniformed officers have been sent to an early grave.
Despite numerous calls by the international community for inclusive dialogue, Mr. Biya and his government have insisted on using military violence as their tool of choice to end the rebellion.
But their methods have only radicalized most Southern Cameroonians and has spurred the various armed groups into intensifying their attacks on soldiers and Gendarmes as a means of self-defense.
The conflict has intensified since the arrest of Southern Cameroonian leaders in Nigeria and their illegal extradition to Yaounde. The conflict has taken a huge toll on the country’s economy, as many businesses in the English-speaking regions have closed and some relocated to other regions of the country.
As the government continues to pursue its policy of violent repression in the two English regions of Cameroon, so too are Southern Cameroonian fighters seeking news way to have an impact on the government and this impact has come by way of attacks on many army soldiers.
There is every indication that there are many more scenes in this conflict and they will surely be playing out in a manner that will be far from being peaceful.
By Soter Agbaw-Ebai in Dublin, with contributions from Kingsley Betek in Yaounde.