Thursday, August 31, 2017

Cameroon: Release of Anglophone leaders a relief but others still languish in prison

In response to today’s presidential decision to drop all charges against civil society leaders and several others arrested in connection with the unrest in recent months in the Anglophone region in Cameroon, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for West and Central Africa said :
“Today’s decision to drop all charges and release of Anglophone civil society leaders, including Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla and Dr. Fontem Aforteka’a Neba, and several others who spent over six months in jail is an enormous relief and welcome news for everyone who has been campaigning for this outcome. They should never have been arrested and prosecuted in the first place for simply helping to organize peaceful, non-violent protests.
“However, we should not forget that the Cameroonian authorities are detaining many other individuals on spurious charges related to national security.
“Fomusoh Ivo Feh and his two friends were jailed for 10 years for nothing more than sharing a private joke about Boko Haram by text message. Ahmed Abba, a journalist for Radio France Internationale's Hausa service, is also languishing in jail for simply exercising his right to freedom of expression. They should be released immediately and unconditionally.
“Aboubakar Siddiki, leader of the political party Mouvement patriotique du salut camerounais, and Abdoulaye Harissou, a well-known notary, have also been held in detention for more than three years without trial on trumped-up charges.
_For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in Dakar, Senegal, +221 77 658 62 27 or +221 33 869 82 31; Email:
Twitter: @AmnestyWaro
This afternoon, a presidential decree read on national public radio indicated that President Paul Biya had decided to drop all charges against Nkongho Felix Agbor, Fontem Neba, Paul Ayah Abine and others arrested during unrest in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon.
According to the decree, the decision was taken in line with the various measures already taken by authorities to bring pacific solutions to concerns expressed by populations from the North-West and South-West regions.
Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla and Dr. Fontem Aforteka’a Neba, respectively the president and Secretary-General of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CAC.SC) were arrested on 17 January 2017.
Both had signed public statements calling for protests to be carried out without violence. They were charged with eight counts in a military court for fostering hostility against the government, secession, civil war, propagation of false information, collective resistance and incitement to take up arms. They faced a possible death sentence if convicted
Courtesy:Report from Amnesty International, published on August,2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

FIFA to appoint Normalization committee to manage Cameroon football

 FIFA Release

"The Bureau of the FIFA Council has today, 23 August 2017, decided to appoint a normalisation committee for the Cameroonian Football Association (FECAFOOT) in accordance with art. 14 par. 1a) and art. 8 par. 2 of the FIFA Statutes. 
This decision comes in connection with the confirmation by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) of the decision of the “Chambre de Conciliation et d’Arbitrage du Comité Olympique et Sportif du Cameroun” (CCA/CNOSC) to annul the electoral process leading to the election of the current FECAFOOT executive committee in 2015 and following recent failed attempts by FIFA to reconcile the football stakeholders in Cameroon and overcome the current impasse.
The committee’s mandate will include the following tasks:
  • To run the daily affairs of FECAFOOT;
  • To draft new statutes in consultation with all stakeholders and in compliance with FIFA’s Statutes and standards as well as mandatory national law;
  • To review the statutes of the regional and departmental leagues and ensure their alignment with the FECAFOOT statutes;
  • To identify the delegates of the FECAFOOT general assembly and of the regional and departmental leagues;
  • To organise and conduct elections of a new FECAFOOT executive committee.

The normalisation committee will be composed of an adequate number of members to be identified by a joint FIFA and CAF mission scheduled to take place very shortly. The committee will act as an electoral committee and none of its members will be eligible for any of the open positions in the elections. The specified period of time during which the normalisation committee shall perform its functions shall expire no later than 28 February 2018."


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

Anglophone Crisis: US-based Cameroonian International Legal Consultant Writes to President BIya

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 


"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

AFCON 2019: Cameroon has the will and ability to host

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.

Yaounde City
 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

Cameroon Arrests Those Wearing Military Uniforms Illegally

FILE - A Cameroonian soldier stands guard during the presidential election in Yaounde, Cameroon, Oct. 9. 2011
FILE - A Cameroonian soldier stands guard during the presidential election in Yaounde, Cameroon, Oct. 9. 2011

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.

Close to 200 Days in Detention :Justice Ayah Paul Reflects On His Plight...

Justice Ayah Paul  Abine (now retired )
Justice Ayah Paul Abine, recently retired from Cameroon Civil Service,was arrested last January 21, and has since then been detained at SED Yaounde reportedly without  any charge.  At the time of  his arrest from his home in Yaounde, the rights activist, was the Deputy Advocate-General of the Supreme Court of Cameroon.
His arrest followed that of Barrister Agbor Balla and Dr. Fontem Neba,leaders of the Anglophone Consortium that coordinated the mass protests against  the Biya Government for marginalizing Anglophones,which led to what toady known as the on-going Anglophone Crisis.


"IT WILL SOON BE 200! 200 days since I was kidnapped by armed unidentified men on orders from above. 200 days in captivity, held hostage on no charge. 200 days with a failing health situation characterised by multiple cardiac attacks. 200 days under diverse forms of torture inflicted unto meFOR NO JUST GROUNDS. But my morale is exceedingly high, as I keep holding the fort, and will so do TILL THE END, with integrity, in all truth and honesty and above all, WITHIN THE LAW.
I am held hostage not because I have stolen, nor killed nor broken the law. I am held hostage because I am 'anglophone', born west of the mungo, a place wherein all its indigenes who stand for truth are tagged as terrorists. Not even my status mattered, nor the law which protects me. From that area wherein we hail, the law is secondary, anarchy is paramount.
To Parents, I say: Love your kids with all your hearts; for no one can love them better/more than you do; not even the self proclaimed righteous. Teach them truth, hardwork, integrity an honesty. Above all, delete the virus of greed and selfishness in them from the outset, and inculcate in them the value of the common good/general interest. If you so do, they will grow up to be pillars of tomorrow with a profound understanding of the value of sacrifice, the love for the other and true patriotism.
To detainees: I feel what you feel for I am in this mess with you all. I wish I could take your place and carry the cross for all. For I have lived my life, full of sacrifices for the general interest with NO REGRETS. But at any thought of you all, my heart bleeds vis-a-vis the unjust torments you undergo, you the young leaders of tomorrow. Oh, how your families miss you dearly; how much your kids/wives/kindred have missed your warmth, protection and security, for months. I pray for you all daily, hoping in confidence that the Most High incurruptible judge will grant you all HIS divine and incurruptible justice at HIS appointed time; FOR HIS TIMING IS PERFECT. May HE keep renewing the ressources and the strength of your families, well wishers, aids and sympathisers, as they share your cross.
To Cameroonians in general: Words cannot express how satisified I am for the immense assistance you have offered me and my entire family all through and counting. The spiritual, material, legal, physical and moral assistance has been immense. I never expected this pinnacle of solidarity, even from 'enemies' who have dropped their slash harmmer and employed their encircling sheild around my family and myself. Someday, when the good Lord so chooses, I will honour you all in a special way, especially the families of fallen victim of the ungoing crisis. I hear their voices daily, whispering words of wisdom and encouragement to my spirit. At the appointed time, i will honour them.
To the authorities that be: You know what ought to be done, which would have been timely done to save the '9 stictches now required' to arrest the bleeding wounds. May it be done in the interest of peace and while there are still openings for such to occur.
Universal children of the Most High, We will meet again, even very soon, when the good Lord elects it to be so. MAY PEACE REIGN IN AND AROUND YOU ALL UNDER THE COUNSEL OF THE ONE AND ONLY TRUE GOD"

U.S. military probes torture claims at Cameroon base

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The U.S. military has opened an inquiry into allegations of torture and murder of suspected Boko Haram militants at a Cameroonian army base used extensively by American troops, a spokesman said on Friday.
Rights group Amnesty International said last month it had documented 101 cases of arbitrary arrest and torture by Cameroonian troops charged with fighting the Nigeria-based jihadist group between 2013 and 2017.
Eighty of the cases occurred at the elite Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) headquarters at Salak, in Cameroon's Far North region, which has been hit hard by spillover from the eight-year insurgency in neighboring Nigeria.
French and U.S. troops have been operating out of Salak for several years, with Amnesty saying it had video evidence proving "regular presence of U.S. personnel in numerous locations across the base".
Mark Cheadle, a spokesman for the U.S. military's Germany-based Africa Command, said a "commander's inquiry" had been set up, although he was unable to provide details of its progress.
Boko Haram attacks have killed more than 20,000 people and displaced 2.7 million in northeast Nigeria and adjacent areas of Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
Reporting by Ed Cropley Editing by Jeremy Gaunt