Friday, September 29, 2017
Friday, September 15, 2017
Monday, September 4, 2017
Freed Minority Rights Leader Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho arrived Buea on Friday September 1,2017 and is accorded a
hero's welcome by cherring crowds.The activist(in suit) waves back at them in appreciation
Hundreds of people including rights advocates, on Friday September 1, thronged the residences of Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho(fondly called Balla) and Dr.Fontem Aforteka’a Neba , President and Secretary ,respectively, of the banned Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium(CACSC), as well as the homes of 10 other released Southwest-based activists to celebrate their release from Kondengui Prison ,where they had spent eight months facing trials .
Barrister Nkongho and Dr.Fontem who were part of the coordination of peaceful protests to demand the rights of English-speaking minority in Cameroon, were arrested last January 17 in Buea and jailed in Yaoundé. They were charged, among others, for promoting terrorism, a crime that is punished, maximally, with death.
International and national pressure kept mounting on President Biya to order the release of all those detained in connection with the Anglophone rights protests.
And last August 30, President Biya ordered, through the Secretary-General at the Presidency Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, “ the discontinuance of proceedings pending before the Yaounde Military Court against Messrs Nkongho Felix Agbor,Fontem Aforteta’a, Paul Ayah Abine and some other persons arrested in relation to the violence committed in recent months in the North west and Southwest Regions”
Of the 54 detainees released, who had been arrested in the Northwest Region and Southwest Region 12 are residents of the latter region.
The freed activists were driven to the two Anglophone regions, guarded by armed security men, on board two 70-seater buses.
In Buea, Southwest Governor Bernard Okala Bilai officially received the twelve freed detainees, in front of his office, amid shouts of joy and cheers from the crowd that had turned out to see “a dream come true.”
The Governor, who was accompanied by the DO for Buea,Wokam Paul, told the freed activists that, they were lucky to have benefited from the discretion of President Biya.
He urged them to promote peace and work towards building a stronger and united nation. The Governor then advised them not to slip into such a predicament again.
From the Governor’s office, the freed activists, accompanied by their fans, friends, well-wishers and families were driven to their various homes, where wining and dining greeted their arrivals.
At the residence of Barrister Agbor Nkongho in Federal Quarters the mood was festive; same was the atmosphere at the residence of Dr.Fontem in Santa Babara Quarter.
The two officials of the banned Consortium are yet to make press declarations.
Reacting to their release to this reporter at the residence of Barrister Agbor Nkongho, the Southwest Regional Secretary for the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, Christopher Tambe Tiku, said: “Our position has been clear from the day that they were arrested- that they were innocent and that the rule of law should be respected. I am happy that the Head of State used his wisdom -and may be based on advice from some goodwill Cameroonians that these people were innocent.
|A cross section of lawyers and rights advocates at freed Barrister Nkongho 's Buea residence|
“So what is important now is for us to engage in genuine dialogue. We cannot pretend to say that the Anglophone crisis has been resolved.
“Now that the enabling climate for dialogue is there, let us not compromise the education of our children. Our children must now go to school. I am a lecturer at the University of Buea.I have been teaching other children and I see no reason why mine should be at home instead”
According to Lawyer Samuel Eboa,Fakla coordinator of Buea-based advocates, who was one of the first people to welcome the freed activists when they arrived Buea early Thursday morning, “I am quite elated that they are back home after eight months in isolation..”
|Freed Barrister Nkongho with journalists|
at his Buea residence on Sept.1,2017
To Barrister Ajong Stanislaus, their release is indicative of the President Biya’s acknowledgement “that Balla did not commit any crime. We have taken note”
Also reacting, Lawyer Enow Benjamin said he was happy that Balla is back home.” We hope he would continue the struggle for the rights of citizens of this country.”
Friday, September 1, 2017
By Josiane Kouagheu
YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Dozens of activists from Cameroon’s English speaking community were freed from jail on Friday as the mainly French-speaking nation’s president moved to ease months of tension in its minority regions.
President Paul Biya on Wednesday ordered a military court to drop its prosecution of the detainees, who were arrested following protests launched late last year by anglophones demanding equal treatment.
Around 50 were released from two prisons in the capital Yaounde after midnight. Watched by security forces, a crowd of family members and journalists gathered outside to greet the activists, who then boarded buses that took them home.
“I was in jail for five months. My mother couldn’t visit me,” said one freed detainee, who asked not to be named. “I‘m innocent. I was arrested when I went out to see a gathering of leaders ...I was just getting by. Now I have nothing left.”
Among others freed were civil society leaders Felix Agbor Balla and Fontem Aforteka‘a Neba, arrested in January and being held under anti-terrorism laws enacted in response to incursions in the country’s north by Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
The pair - who pleaded not guilty in February to charges that included complicity in hostility against the homeland, secession and civil war - had faced a potential death sentence if convicted.
Their case added fuel to long-standing opposition in the North-West and South-West regions against President Biya’s francophone-dominated government, which has responded to unrest there with a crackdown.
Biya’s office said the decision to release the detainees reflected the president’s resolve to find a “peaceful solution to crises”.
But an easing of tensions did not appear imminent as others, including well-known radio broadcaster Mancho Bibixy, remained in jail with their cases due to be reviewed at the end of this month.
“Bibixy and the others were only expressing what they thought. They didn’t kill anyone,” Calvin Tah Ndangoh, his lawyer, told Reuters. “We do not know for sure why he wasn’t released.”
Anglophone activists have called for a boycott of the start of the new school year next week.
In response, around 1,000 paramilitary police, including 400 reinforcements, were deployed in the two volatile regions due to the “persistent threat of activists” in a security operation due to last 128 days.
Additional reporting by Anne-Mireille Nzouankeu; Writing by Joe Bavier; editing by John Stonestreet
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Thursday, August 24, 2017
By Tikum Mbah Azonga*
The ongoing conflict in Cameroon has been characterized by a rising spate of the burning down of schools, in addition to the premeditated prevention of children from attending school. This fact is particularly telling, considering that we are only a couple of weeks from the start of the new school years and while back to school may take off effectively in the eight predominantly Francophone regions of the country, children in the North West and South West may continue to be held down as hostages against their will.
The burning of schools has been great cause for concern indeed. In some cases, teachers and other staff members who work in schools have been directly threatened. As if that was not enough, those pulling the strings are still calling for more schools – or those which attempt to open their doors for children to gain access to education which is their inalienable right – to be set ablaze and razed to the ground.
To the advocates of this scorched earth policy, the more schools that are destroyed, the merrier, which is why they rejoice, each time yet another school is set alight. Yet, perpetrators of the acts appear not to know that not only does the United Nations regard schools and places of religious worship as sacrosanct and therefore excluded from attack – even in times of conflict or war – but the world governing body is also keen to fish out people who violate this sanctity so that they can face the law. In other words, the long arm of the law may eventually reach out and compel some arsonists or architects therefore to face trial against war crimes or crimes against humanity.
To paraphrase this, nothing, even in times of war justifies the burning down of schools or the willful prevention of children from going to school. That is why a recent UN report states: “Attacks on schools and hospitals during conflict is one of the six grave violations identified and condemned by the UN Security Council.”
The report which is entitled “Attacks on Hospitals and Schools: Protecting Children Now” and published in 2013 by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict”, also says: “Schools and hospitals must be zones of peace, where children are granted protection even in times of conflict.
Yet, there is an increasing trend of schools and hospitals being attacked with detrimental effects on children. Apart from the direct and physical damage to schools and hospitals, conflict can result in the forced closure or the disrupted functioning of these institutions. Children, teachers, doctors and nurses are also subject to threats by parties to conflict if suspected, for example, to support the other party in the conflict.”
The UN report warns that “under international humanitarian law, both schools and hospitals are protected civilian objects, and therefore benefit from the humanitarian principles of distinction and proportionality.
The international body regrets that “direct physical attacks and the closure of these institutions as a result of direct threats have since 2011 been added as triggers for inclusion on the list of the Secretary-General of parties to conflict committing grave violations against children in armed conflict” In response to the violation, the UN Security Council announced a certain number of measures: “In 2011, by adopting resolution 1998, the Security Council gave the United Nations a mandate to identify and list, in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict, the armed forces and groups who attack schools or hospitals, or protected persons in relation to schools and hospitals.
The resolution asked listed parties to conflict to work with the United Nations to prepare concrete, time-bound action plans to end and prevent the violations. This is crucial to ensure children can enjoy their rights to education and health and that violators no longer enjoy impunity.”
In a section entitled: `Act to Protect: Guidance Note on Attacks against Schools and Hospitals`, the report warns: “with our partners, we are strengthening our capacity to monitor and report incidents affecting children’s right to health and education in situations of conflict.”
The report concludes on an upbeat note: “The world has denounced the recruitment of child soldiers; the world has decried sexual violence in conflict. We now have to condemn and take action against attacks on schools and hospitals with the same strength and conviction.”
So, if we are to continue to encourage the burning of more schools in Cameroon and insist on blocking children from going to school, we should know that the United Nations is watching and there may be no escape from the consequences.
The arm of the law is long.
*Tikum Mbah Azonga is a Cameroonian University don and Journalist
Saturday, August 12, 2017
|Dr. Makongo (left) with ex- Ghanaian President|
Jerry Rawlings during a recent audience
The now seemingly unending Anglophone Crisis ,which started last November with Cameroon's Common law lawyers's strike and public demonstrations ,has provoked the writing of numerous letters by diplomats,human rights organisations,international law societies, intellectuals,lawmakers etc to President Paul Biya,proposing solutions to the crisis.
Below is one of such addressed to the Cameroonian Head of State,by Cameroon-born and US-based International Legal Consultant and Senior Negotiator,Dr. David Makongo
OPEN LETTER NO:3 TO PRESIDENT PAUL BIYA
"Dear President Biya,
It is with great honor for your high office that I come back to you with my third open letter in connection with the Southern Cameroons' quest for peaceful resolution.
It is sad and very concerning to observe that some ungrateful close confidants of yours want to see you dragged in the mud with a bloody nose before you leave Etoudi. I therefore urge you to dribble them and organize a peaceful referendum in Southern Cameroons.
You could make a new legacy for yourself if you can peacefully and voluntarily organize a referendum to allow the people of Southern Cameroons decide whether or not they want to stay with LRC or go their own separate ways?
The Southern Cameroons plight is deeper in Cameroon than it seems on the surface abroad. Your collaborators are lying to you again by insinuating that North West and South West Regions are stable. And that if any instability, then it could only come from the outside. Big lies. Ghost towns ("Country Sunday") are not abroad. You live with them right there in North West and West Regions.
It is surprising, therefore, to so many people how they managed to persuade you to abandon the problem back home and send the most untrustworthy people abroad to tell lies such as: there was no lawyers strike to a very knowledgeable and wise diaspora population in South Africa, Belgium, Canada, USA, UK and also to mislead and misguide the U.N.
As your emissaries came to the UN for explanation, that is how the U.N. sent them back to you with diplomatic rebuke "to start inclusive dialogue to address the outstanding root causes of tensions" in the Anglophone regions, uphold human rights and hold those responsible for administering justice to "high standards."
What are the root causes of the Anglophone problem?
Dear Mr President, it is important for you to note that despite its shortcomings, the U.N. has always viewed itself as a community of values.
-The ANNEXATION of Southern Cameroons is a violation of these values;
-The kidnappings, torture and raping of Southern Cameroonians are in violation of these values;
-The unwarranted arrests (of Dr. Balla, Justice Ayah, Dr. Fontem, Mr. Mancho and all other SC in LRC jails), illegal detentions and Nuremburg style trials without due process of the law are in violation of these values;
-The shutting down of internet and militarization of Southern Cameroons are in violation of these values.
It is equally important for you to know that if we must avoid blood shed, in addition to following recommendations of the U.N.
1. Instruct government to release everyone in jail without conditions to diffuse tension and to start real "inclusive dialogue with freed leaders and the interim government of Southern Cameroons.
2. Organize a referendum in NorthWest and South West Regions to allow the people decide for themselves which way they want to go? Conduct this test and apply the will of the majority to avoid unforeseen circumstances for the country.
Mr. President, though I'm not a prophet of doom, if there is anything I can guarantee you with this write-up, it is the certainty of the fact that the union between Southern Cameroons and LRC has broken down irretrievably. True!
Fellow Southern CAMEROONIANS, in an overwhelming majority have followed their conscience to separate and start the task of building the new independent State of Southern Cameroons. There's no turning back, Mr. President!
The above is in line with Resolution 1514 of the U.N. which provides that when the union has failed one people can separate if it is the will of the majority.
Thus, organizing this referendum through peace and dialogue could go a long way in saving part of your legacy to the total bewilderment of some of your deceitful allies and ungrateful employees who are betting Or plotting for your shameful downfall.
Only those who have lived in the bowels of the beast know it from the inside!
Yours very sincerely
Dr. David Makongo USA,
Senior Negotiator & International Legal Consultant)
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
By Elvis Teke
Cameroon’s readiness to host the 2019 African Cup of Nations has come under sharp focus in less than twenty-three months to the kick off of the continental tournament.
Different officials have watered down all doubts on the country's ability to host the twenty-four team football teams placed in six groups. Only recently, the Confederation of African Football congratulated the country for a great organisation of the 2016 Women’s African Cup of Nations. Since the last competition, additional lodging, restoration and other facilities required by CAF are in the process of being completed.
Three Stadia for International competitions in Yaounde, Bafoussam and Limbe have been homologated by CAF. Two others in Olembe-Yaounde and Japoma- Douala are presently under construction while two others in Douala and Garoua are currently being renovated. According to CAF's checklist, the country needs four or five star hotels to host the players and CAF officials.
These are readily available in Yaounde and Douala while others of varying categories are in other towns. In the Transport sector the Country's possess four international airports and an airline corporation which now focus on domestic flights.
In the same light, all roads linking potential towns to host the competition are linked by tar. In the area of healthcare, the city of Yaoundé is well furnished and government at work renovating and equipping Bafoussam, Limbe, Douala and Garoua ahead of the visit of the CAF inspection team.
In the domain of Communication the country is endowed with four mobile telephone service providers with high speed internet connection. Government's national broadcaster CRTV with its newly acquired Outside Broadcasting Vans is set to render reliance evermore easy.
These are just some of the arguments advanced both by the Communication boss, the President of the Cameroon Football federation, FECAFOOT to dispel any doubt regarding Cameroon’s readiness and ability to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations
Some of the potentials Cameroon boasts of include:
Three International airports with renovated run ways Internal flights to seven of ten regions
All the towns selected host games are linked by tarred roads Several hotels of various standing exist in different town
The population is hospital and live in a multicultural environment Medical and security personnel have been trained and equipped
Three stadiums for international competitions homologated by CAF in Yaoundé, Bafoussam and Limbe Two world class stadiums are under construction in Olembe, Yaounde and Japoma, Douala
Two other Stadia to be renovated in Douala and Garoua
Sunday, August 6, 2017
|FILE - A Cameroonian soldier stands guard during the presidential election in Yaounde, Cameroon, Oct. 9. 2011|
By Moki EDWIN KinDZEKA
Authorities in Cameroon are arresting people who they say illegally wear military uniforms in order to deceive the population and commit atrocities. There have been tensions between armed groups in neighboring Central African Republic, with a spill over into Cameroon, and Cameroon thinks rebel fighters are using the uniforms as a disguise.
A dozen military men forcefully open doors in Nyangaza, a popular neighborhood in Bertoua on Cameroon's eastern border with the Central African Republic. Nyangaza is home to hundreds of Central Africans living with host Cameroonian communities. Among the military personnel arresting civilians with military uniforms is staff sergeant Isidore Mbah.
He says they have noticed that the neighborhood is a hideout for bandits, who wear uniforms to trick people into believing they are in the military. He says all those they arrest will answer charges in a military court.
Last Friday military officials arrested 13 people, aged 17 to 37. Among them is 30-year-old Emmanuel Manga from the Central African Republic who has been living in Cameroon for three years.
He says he had been wearing the uniform to keep warm in the early morning cold since his friend offered it to him as a gift. He says he never knew that it was forbidden to wear it and that some military men had been seeing him with the uniform but did no arrests until recently.
Armed groups from CAR have attacked Cameroon on several occasions since the crisis in CAR began in March 2013 when Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew President Francoise Bozize Abuses. That triggered the rise of the Anti Balaka Christian defense groups and a cycle of killings and violence has spilled over into Cameroon.
Cameroon-born general Housseini Djibo, a senior military official in eastern Cameroon says the arrests were ordered because it was discovered that some rebels were disguising themselves as military members and committing atrocities.
He says there is galloping insecurity on Cameroon's eastern border because of its proximity with the troubled Central African Republic. He says they will do everything possible to stop armed rebel groups that regularly carry out incursions on Cameroon's territory and hold especially cattle ranchers and business persons hostage.
About 100 people have been arrested within the past 30 days. A 1982 law forbids civilians from buying, selling and wearing military uniforms and states that anyone caught faces prison time of between 3 months to 2 years and, or fines ranging from $100 to $ 4,000.
Even as the military goes around arresting people and seizing the military uniforms, some shop owners still keep them in stock as Moussa Ahminou of the Bertoua traders trade union told VOA.
He says some of them are still stealthily selling the stocks they had before the government started educating them not to sell military outfit.
Cameroon shares a 900-kilometer long boundary with the landlocked CAR and presently hosts 300,000 refugees from the neighboring state.