Thursday, August 30, 2018

Anglophone Crisis:Protesting women for peace

Cameroon women protest against ongoing Anglophone Crisis in Buea
By Ayuk Oru Mary Shevett, Bako Abiba Fowzie and Bongbawo Sheron Tita*

At least 200 rights-conscious women from both the crisis-stricken Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon, Wednesday August 29, staged a peaceful march at Bongo Square, Buea, calling for immediate return of peace, dialogue and harmony in the restive Anglophone regions.
The two English-speaking regions, estimated to have a population of about eight million people, have since October 2016 been plunged in a deadly crisis, provoked by activists advocating the   independence of Anglophones.
 A group called Southwest and Northwest Task Force (SNWOT), created four months ago and coordinated by  Mrs. Njomo Esther Omam ,director of Buea-based NGO, Reach Out, mobilized the women for the peaceful march, on the theme “The Right to Peace and Security.” 
 “The purpose of SNWOT is to contribute significantly in ending the Anglophone Crisis”, Mrs Omam said, noting:” Women who are catalysts of peace and agents of development had not been heard. So there was that urgent need to create the task force to significantly contribute in ending the crisis.”
She added that SNWOT was born out of a coalition of Southwest-based civil society organizations headed by women but since the crisis also affects the Northwest, a branch was established in Bamenda coordinated by Mrs. Ada Mbah of Mother of Hope, an NGO.
A similar march is scheduled to take place in the days ahead in Bamenda. 
As the placard-wielding women, in assorted dresses, converged on Bongo Square, Rev. Dr. Perpetua Fonki, coordinator of Women for Peace and Justice in Cameroon, first shared the word of God with them, invoking God’s protection for all. She drew inspiration for her meditation from the  Bible book of Jeremiah 9:17- 22.
Some of the placard messages read:  Education: More than ever our schools need protection; we stand against rape; Yes to dialogue, no to arms.
  Mrs. Omam lamented the pain and suffering people have been enduring for two years because of the Anglophone crisis, which is characterized by killings, arson, vandalism, physical torture, kidnappings,school boycott ,detention of suspects, etc.
  According to Rev. Dr. Pertetua Fonki, earlier mentioned, “We have been praying for the country but have realized that prayers without action is not complete; so we decided to blend prayers with some kind of action because when we pray and sit quiet, then the impact is not really felt.”
Taking a somewhat neutral position on the crisis, SNWOT did not accuse either the Government or the Separatists, but prayed that the warring parties “re-think and give peace a chance”

Hundreds of thousands of people are already internally displaced and tens of thousands of others are seeking refuge in neighboring Nigeria,according to the United Nations.
The Buea women march culminated with Mrs. Agbor Magdalene, vice coordinator of SNWOT and director of CHAMEG Buea, reading the resolutions adopted by the women with regards to the Crisis. 

They include:1-That  SNWOT advocates for peace and tranquility to be restored in the South West Region
 2- That the rape of women and girls and other forms of gender-based violence should be prevented; while meaningful access to education for our children should be ensured.
 3-That the lamentation campaign performed today is an accumulation of a series of activities carried out by women since its creation.
 4-That the decision makers, the leaders of our nation, civil society organization and religious bodies are encouraged to take appropriate sustainable measures to support and assist in the implementation of the present declaration.
5- that,We members of the SNWOT, declare to  : the president of the Republic Of Cameroon, the National Parliament, the Cabinet Ministers, international organizations, foreign diplomatic representatives accredited to Cameroon, members of non-governmental and public organizations, leaders of political parties, churches, business circles and mass media- our hope that the aforementioned manifesto should be given due consideration and widest possible dissemination of the UN Security Resolution 1325 which will galvanize peace-building forces towards securing respect for international legal norms by those concerned; there by contributing  to a constructive dialogue at the national level.”
  The women said they drafted the resolutions taking into consideration the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Beijing Declaration and Action Platform, the final document of the 23rd Special session of the United Nation General Assembly named “Women in 2000: Equality, Development and Peace between Men and Women in the 21st Century and 27th Special session concerning children, and as well as to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 of October 2000. 
SNWOT handed the resolutions to Mrs. Moffah Judith Lyiengu Luma, Southwest Regional Delegate for Women Empowerment and the Family,for transmission to Hierarchy.
The delegate, who lauded the idea of the peaceful march, promised to hand the resolutions to the Minister of Women Empowerment and the Family, Marrie Therese Abena Ondoua.   
* Ayuk Oru Mary Shevett, Bako Abiba Fowzie and Bongbawo Sheron Tita are University of Buea Journalism interns.       

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Cameroon:“Anglophone Crisis is serious but not impossible to solve” -Head of UN Peacekeeping Mission in DRC, 2001-3 

Dr.Amos Namanga Ngongi is a former UN Undersecretary-General, Special Representative and Head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2001-2003).
He sat down, last Friday August 24, for an interview with The Horizon’s Contributing Editor Christopher Ambe, *Vera Muyang Ngu and Ayuk Oru Mary Shevett
Dr. Ngongi, a native of Fako, gave his views on the ongoing Anglophone Crisis, suggesting how it could be solved.
Dr. Ngongi, what is your take on the Anglophone Crisis which erupted in 2016, and now has become armed conflict between Government and Separatists, resulting in hundreds of deaths and vandalism?
Thank you for this opportunity to express my views on the Anglophone problem.
As a Cameroonian I must say it is a serious problem and as you mentioned hundreds of lives have been lost; villages and communities have been disrupted; we have thousands of refugees and internally displaced people. It is a bad situation that we should all work to resolve. It is a serious but not impossible problem to solve. There have been worse crises around the world and they have found solutions.
As long as there is a will and humility on both sides to be able to approach issues as they are, I think, we will be able to find a solution.
It is unacceptable that you have a country which was the beacon of peace, security and development in the sub region finding itself in this situation. I would say, we are all guilty in that those who would have spoken before did not; those who would have taken action did not and those who would have given early signal warning, probably, did not also perform their duty, to ensure our country was saved from this dishallowing situation we are going through. The elements of solution are there; it is how to approach the problem, to be able to put the human being at the Centre; forget about individual ideologies and positions, put Cameroonians at the Centre. If you did that, approached the problem from a human perspective, the solution would come.
Personally, do you believe there is an Anglophone problem?
Even the blind, dumb and deaf know there is an Anglophone problem; this has been discussed for decades now, so we cannot be pretending anymore that there is no such problem
And how would you define the problem?
Well, it is either the reality or the feeling of marginalization in all its forms. It is that feeling that people are not actually getting what they need to have. It is a feeling-most of the time .it may not be reality. So the perception sometimes is stronger than the reality. In this case, probably it is the reality and perception by a group of the population that feels that it is not getting what it desires. Or, that rules have been skewed against them…it is a complex issue because it deals with feelings; it does not necessarily deal only with reality.
Everything must be done to allay the fears of people so they live in hope that if they are not getting what they desire today, then they will get it tomorrow.
 In 2001 you were appointed the UN undersecretary-general, Special Representative and Head of the UN Peace-keeping Mission in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Are we right to say you helped restore peace and harmony in that country?
You used the right word “help” because there were many players for peace and against peace. My role was to make sure things were not apart. When I got there,  there were at least four governments- three by rebel movements and one by the central government; each controlling its territory and army. The first step was to get a ceasefire. That was done before I got to Congo. Then, we were to have a peace agreement, which was under the auspices of a neutral facilitator appointed jointly by the UN and African Union .My task was to ensure make fighting between forces was actually calmed down, to broker little truces and ceasefires round the country. And being the resident person in the country, to advance the negotiators’ positions, proposals and ideas that I thought could contribute in bringing the parties together; I was charged with making sure that once the peace agreement was signed it was implemented. Of course, there are many parties in the crisis who benefit from the crisis and don’t want that agreements are implemented. So my business was to win over all those people who were resisting especially the rebel movements, bring them out of the bushes to the capital to take part in the transitional government.
The situation in Cameroon is kind of similar to that in DRC, with conflicts here and there between Government and Separatists. What are you doing or have done to help resolve the Anglophone crisis?
Our situation is not quite the situation in DRC.The only comparison is that we are in process of getting into a deepening crisis, which we should do our best to stop it at this stage before we get to the stage of DRC in late 1990s
I have spoken on different occasions, giving my views. Six years ago over CRTV in an open discussion about the 30th anniversary of the head of state, I made it clear that when the Anglophone crisis came in, it was really a matter of feeling; people don’t feel trusted. 
The most vexing thing for people who feel marginalized is that the instruments that were created to bind us –the constitution, was not being implemented or implemented in a very slow manner. People felt the constitution was not being implemented to take care of their preoccupations at that time.
Don’t you think the slow implementation was bad faith on the side of Government?
I think if you are approaching a problem for solutions don’t attribute bad faith on any party. If you do that, then it will be very difficult to reach an agreement. Consider that the other party is approaching the issue with the same trust and seriousness as you are. If you give that benefit of the doubt it is possible to find a solution. But if you have already concluded that the other party is approaching the issues with bad faith, why would you do what you need to do to have a solution?
Dr,Ngongi,whether in your capacity then  as Deputy Director of World Food program or UN Undersecretary-general, Special Representative and head of UN Peace-keeping Mission in DRC,I understand  you were advising governments on how to resolve conflicts and crisis. What should be done to resolve the Anglophone crisis?
I don’t have a magic solution. What you need is an approach. It is a process because the problems have been with us for quite some time and they are not going to disappear in a day.
If it’s a process, let us begin the process. The beginning of a process is meeting people to ask your opponents “what are your issues?” Though, they have been publicized in the media,we know but we have not had a face-to-face discussion of the key holders  on what are their real burning  issues .If you have a  100 issues, all of them are not of the same degree of importance. Some are more important than others. So there has to be a process of sieving the problems. Which ones are the critical issues to be solved at the national level? Which can be solved at the regional level? Even within the regions there are differences. So there must be a mechanism put in place to be able to bring those issues together. I know that the National Commission on Bilingualism and Multiculturalism has been gone around and met people, but this is just a commission that reports to the Head of State. It is not like a dialogue in which we have constituted parties that bring issues on the table. The Commission’s report can be used as a resource, a working document but you need representatives from the different constituent parts of the debate or issue to be able to agree on a program to resolve the issues facing us. With classification of the issues, some need to be solved today, some tomorrow or some in one, two or even three years. But the longer it takes the more discouraged people are. But if you rush too you make mistakes.
It is important to set up a mechanism that permits people meet regularly. It does not mean that the process must start at the highest level. It can from the bottom.
I think some people have mentioned already that we do need some persons or groups to be able to chaperon the process.
When you have a crisis, you have many stakeholders that you need somebody that seems to be somehow neutral, to try to mediate for a solution. There are people who can forget about their status and make themselves available to resolve a problem. A person like former UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan (who died recently).He was an epitome of a person whom you could look at and know he had no agenda of his own. His agenda was to bring peace and security, justice and economic development that could reduce poverty in marginalized societies. Virtually, in every community there are people like him.
You were Mr. Annan’s close collaborator and trusted friend. Birds of a feather flock together. Can you not suggest to the Cameroon Government that you can broker a peace deal with regards to the Anglophone crisis?
Normally, it is not to fit in the shoes of somebody. Kofi Annan was Kofi Annan just as Nelson Mandela was Nelson Mandela. Each of them had their qualities, characters and is difficult trying to fit into the shoes of an individual. Normally, it is the people who have the problem who can best identify who can help solve the problem; it is not the individual who says he has a solution. There are many people who can participate in a process but I don’t think that speaking with you here I would be the one to propose to Government  that I should  be involved in a process  ; probably, they are  many Cameroonians better placed to do it  than myself.
As earlier said it should be a process where somebody in government can put together because government is a player in the social life of a country. Where you have a civil society functioning properly it can also propose a mechanism to bring about a solution .We had the proposal from the clergy to start the process with the Anglophone dialogue and you recall how much heat it generated. So it is not easy for a private practitioner or a group to position itself as the one to provide a solution because you have a lot of conflicts and need a system to identify a person, a group or an institution to be able to carry out this process. You have the United Nations with much experience with conflict management and if it selected an individual it is difficult for other parties to reject the choice.
But you are considered by many as still part of the United nation…
I am not. I am retired from the UN. The UN has conflict resolution mechanism; the African Union has peace and security mechanisms; there is the Mandela institute and foundation, you have the kofi Annan Foundation, Jimmy Carter Foundation. There are quite many structures that can be approached. They can identify using different criteria the institution that can carry out mediation.
There are people who hold that you could be very instrumental in seeking solution for the crisis, mindful of your international experience in conflict management.Don't you agree with them?
That is their judgment. And if it is so, then it is something they should put to the structures that are going to consider such a scenario.
If the solution of the crisis depended just on an individual we should have been, probably, out of it by now. It should be a community process so that people have confidence that it is going to lead to a better future. If you have it, no matter the difficulties you have during that process many would support and get to the end.
Honestly speaking, do you appreciate the way the government has been handling the Anglophone crisis?
I think the problem could have been approached differently. Once you paint somebody black, it is difficult but not impossible to go and talk with them. Let us at least remove invectives. Senior Public officials speaking about the problem must be cautious with their words, because just a few words can fix or spoil a process. I don’t need to remind you that there are lot speeches that have been made in the media that hurt. They can please a small segment of society but they just widen the gap among the people who should be sitting round the same table.
Humility is said to be a hallmark of leadership. Would you say the Biya government is humble in its approach to solving the crisis?
[Laughs].I do not  know whether governments can be humble.Humilty is a personal human quality, not an institutional one.
Let us not think that our own government has been constituted by angels from Heaven.A government is a government. Individuals in government and out of it should have the element of humility to be able to say, when a wrong is done, that it should be accepted and corrected. I hope that most people holding public offices should have elements of humility, to be able to identify where they too have made mistakes and work to correct the mistakes
Dr.Ngongi,you occupied high offices at the international level, what motivated you to come  low by becoming a councilor of Buea Council?
[Laughs].In real life they say “Think globally, act locally” because most of the problems in life are local. If people don’t have water to drink, is it an international problem? If you don’t have streetlights, is it an international problem? If there are no schools, or hospitals, is it an international problem?
I find that people who have held high offices at the international level are struggling to become presidents or ministers in their countries but are abandoning their own communities. They only go there in coffins. I did not want that happen to me.I have been a council for five years, contributing ideas to enhance development. I have written projects that if funded, would bring hundreds of millions to the Council. Is that not a contribution?
That is the reason for my being a counselor of Buea Council. 
*Vera Muyang Ngu and Ayuk Oru Mary Shevett are University of Buea Journalism interns.
(This interview is published in The Horizon Newspaper,Cameroon,of  August 28,2018)

Southwest Mega Forum: Musonge,elite urge separatists to lay down arms for dialogue!

By Christopher Ambe

Close to 400 chiefs and elites of the Southwest Region, who last Saturday, met at Buea

 Mountain Hotel, in what was dubbed Southwest Mega conference, to seek solutions  to the Anglophone crisis, which for two years has brought untold suffering and pain in the region, declared that the region is for “one and indivisible but  decentralized state.” 
They also said  the Southwest has never thought of seceding from the Republic of Cameroon and as such dissociates itself from the putative Ambazonia Republic, whose Interim Government is now headed by Fako elite,Dr.Sako Ikome.

Dr.Sako took over  from another Southwest Elite ,Sisiku Ayuk Tabe,now in detention, awaiting trial.
Among other recommendations, the forum called on armed separatist fighters to surrender and give dialogue a chance. They also called for effective school resumption. 
The conference, whose delegates came from the six divisions of the Region with a conspicuous presence of SW elite serving in the Government, held under the theme “Southwest Region: Facing our Challenges Together”   

 Former prime Minister and sitting Grand Chancellor of National Orders, Peter Mafany Musonge, presided at the conference, which he described as “interactive and non-partisan”.

He said the meeting, which was prompted by numerous challenges facing the Southwest following the eruption of the Anglophone crisis, was intended “to chart a way forward together in unity and peace”  

 In his key note address, Musonge admitted that since the past two years the SW region has been experiencing unprecedented socio-political and security challenges “perpetrated by radical and extremist groups bent on tearing our country apart”   
He regretted: “In spite of the numerous actions taken by government to provide solutions and ensure protection of the populations, the crisis is continuing with heavy human loss, huge   material destruction and untold socio-economic consequences.”  

Musonge, said to be the political leader of the Southwest, said the Anglophone crisis has taken a more alarming twist in the region: the imposition of ghost towns, the crippling of PAMOL and CDC activities as well as small holder schemes that depend on the two corporations, the disruption of the execution of public investment projects in general and in particular the Ekondo Titi-kumba,and Dschang-Menji-Bakebe road projects, the burning down of petrol stations, banks,Brasseries du Cameroun sales points and vehicles, the  abductions and murders of persons involved in the construction of interurban highways, the disruption of the cocoa economy and the transportation of goods and persons; burning down of schools, hospital infrastructure, administrative buildings and private property, intimidation of students and teachers, abduction of administrative agents, the murder of innocent citizens, security officers and traditional rulers. He cited the “abduction of 8 traditional rulers of Fako division with one of them,Chief Mbanda Njie of Lysoka Moliwe “beaten to death, and the cold-blooded murder of the Paramount Chief of the Balondos,Essoh Itoh in Ekondo Titi

 “Brothers and sisters of the southwest region, there comes a time in the life of a people when they must say: Enough is enough’”,Musonge said, adding that now is the time to say “Enough is enough” 

He said it was necessary to build a future of hope in the region and the nation at large, noting: “Let us give dialogue a chance and let us resolve together …to bring an end to violence, destruction, abductions and murders that have been a daily occurrence in these past months”
Musonge hailed Mayor Ekema Patrick for recently organizing a peaceful march against perpetrators of violence and the abductions, especially of traditional rulers in Fako.
He wished that the forum would serve as springboard to restore total peace and reinforce the unity of Cameroon.
The ex-PM advised those who are perpetrating violence against their fatherland “to lay down their arms for meaningful dialogue to take place”
He pleaded with the populations taking refuge in bushes to “come out of their dangerous camps, and hiding places, and join us to fix what needs to be fixed in our country”
Musonge hoped school boycott would now become a thing of the past, so that children can resume classes without disturbances, come 3rd September this year

He called for an end to ghost towns and also urged that the separatists “should allow for peaceful presidential election campaigns and voting on Election Day to determine the future course of the nation” which, he insisted, is “one and indivisible
Before the Conference Declaration, participants had brainstormed in four committeesunder the following subthemes:1) Socio-economic impact of the crisis in Southwest 2)-Political choices of the Southwest 3)-Youth and women empowerment as imperatives and 4)-Cultural awakening and Preservation of Southwest.
Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai, attended the opening and closing ceremonies of the one-day forum, which held amid tight security for fear separatist fighters, could attack participants and dignitaries. 
 Members of Government, who also double as SW elite,  in attendance included Paul Tasong(Minister-delegate in the Ministry of Economy, Planning and  Regional Development;  Paul Elung Che,Assistant Secretary-General at the Presidency ,Victor Mengot and Ndion Ngute,ministers for Special Duties.
Earlier in a welcome speech, Mayor of Buea,Ekema Patrick Esunge said the forum was long awaited. He wished that the forum would promote unity among elites of the region and support President Biya’s vision for Cameroon
But the Mayor criticized the Southwest Chiefs Conference (SWECC) and Southwest Elite Association (SWELA) for doing little or nothing to fight against atrocities committed  during this crisis period in the Southwest.
Reacting after the conference, Senator Charles Mbella Moki lauded the idea of the conference which condemned violence and strongly advocated meaningful dialogue as a means to resolve problem.  
According to Chief Prof Abangma Sampson, “the idea of the conference was timely because we cannot sit and watch these ugly happenings in our region. The decisions taken at this forum all relate to how to solve crisis in the region” 
Also reacting to the conference, Chief Atem Ebako, who was vice-Chair of the conference, said the problems of the Southwest are not caused by chiefs or elites but by unscrupulous youths who don’t know the value of peace.
(Vera Munyang  Ngu, Ayuk Oru Mary Shevett,Etta Cecilia Nyangalo,Bako Fowzie Abiba and Bongbawo Sheron Tita, University of Buea Journalism Interns contributed to this report).
NB:This article also appears in The Horizon Newspaper,Cameroon,of August 28,2018

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Ex-UN Senior Official says:  Kofi Annan would‘ve solved Anglophone Crisis…

By Christopher Ambe and Vera Muyang Ngu*

As the World mourns Kofi Annan, the first black African UN secretary-general, who died last Saturday following a brief illness, a former close collaborator and Cameroonian friend, Dr.Amos Namanga Ngongi, has also regretted the huge loss, adding that Cameroon has missed a distinguished problem-solver as Kofi Annan.

   “Clearly, if Mr. Annan were still alive and approached, he would greatly contribute to looking for a solution to the current imbroglio that Cameroon is going through. I am confident that he would have made a commendable contribution to finding a lasting solution”, said Dr.Ngongi, in a veiled reference to the current Anglophone Crisis when asked what Cameroon might have missed with the passing away of the seasoned Ghanaian diplomat.   
    Dr.Ngongi, a former UN Undersecretary-General, Special Representative and Head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2001-2003) when Kofi Annan was UN SG and then a former President of Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA) with head office in Kenya when Kofi Annan was Board Chair, described the deceased as “a great person, who combined many qualities in one person.

He was not only courageous and intellectually-driven; he was also humble and honest in bringing positive changes in the ways human beings were relating to each other”

    Dr. Ngongi , who maintained  regular contact with Mr.Annan but was also taken aback by his friend’s sudden death, recalled how as UN SG, Mr.  Annan helped resolve, in a peaceful manner,  the dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon  over the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula, preventing both countries from engaging in a blood bath.
     He added:” Mr. Annan was a man who could not be spoiled by the trappings of power. He inspired confidence, as he approached problems from the way of human nature …with the view of improving the relationships of people; peace and security was his driving force”

    Dr. Ngongi said Africa as a whole will equally miss Mr. Annan, considering that he pushed so hard for the development of the continent Africa.  
    With the on-going Anglophone crisis, which erupted since October 2016 tearing Cameroon, pundits and Anglophone activists had floated the name of Kofi Annan as a favourite expert mediator who could be brought in to help resolve the crisis.

    But their hope for Mr. Annan was last Saturday dashed when he died, aged 80, in a hospital in Bern, Switzerland.  
    “Annan served two terms from Jan. 1, 1997, to Dec. 31, 2006, capped nearly mid-way when he and the U.N. were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. Annan was known to diplomats as a lifer — a career diplomat at the United Nations who remained active after his two terms,” according to CBS news.
    Learning of Mr. Annan’s demise, the sitting UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, expressed profound regrets.

"It is with profound sadness that I learned of his passing. In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination," said Guterres, adding that.

"He was someone I could always turn to for wisdom and wisdom — and I know I was not alone. He provided people everywhere with a space for dialogue, a place for problem-solving and a path to a better world."
    Hit by the sad news, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said  his country would fly  the nation’s fly ,for a week,at half-mast in honour of deceased Annan, whom he likened to a great compatriot.
     Also very touched by the death was Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA) headquartered in Kenya, which Mr.Annan was instrumental in its creation.

    According to Mr Strive Masiyiwa, AGRA Board Chair: “Mr. Annan was a tremendous leader of progress in the world, improving the lives of millions of individuals in Africa and beyond through his work. It is his call for a uniquely African green revolution to ensure that Africa can feed itself that led to AGRA’s creation in 2006 to improve the incomes and livelihoods of Africa’s smallholder farmers. Mr. Annan was the Founding Chair of AGRA and continued offering leadership and guidance to the institution right up until this year as our Board Chair Emeritus.
    “I am saddened by the death of Kofi Annan, my elder brother and friend. Africa has lost one of its gallant soldiers.

 “We express our heartfelt condolences to his wife Nane, his children, and the entire family. Mr. Annan has left a lasting legacy in the quest for a food self-sufficient continent. We will keep his dream and vision alive.”
    Other World leaders have since been extending their condolences to the Ghanaian People and Annan Family.
   Annan,a loving husband and father of several children, was born in the Ashanti heartland about two decades before Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from the British Colonial rule.

*Vera Muyang Ngu is a University of Buea Journalism intern.

(This article also appears in The Horizon Newspaper, Cameroon, of August 22, 2018)

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Anglophone Crisis: 106 Cameroon Villages Burnt down.

By Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho*

"Since October 2017, after the first military raids, 106 villages have been raided, burned down and their inhabitants have either partially or completely deserted the villages. 65 villages in the South West Region and 41 in the North West Region have been attacked, burned down partially or completely and deserted either completely or partially. Out of 65 affected villages in the South West Region, 45 are severely affected while out of 41 in the North West Region, 25 are severely affected.
Destruction of civilian property, wanton and wide-scale pillage and burning of villages by the Cameroonian military constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. These crimes and acts are to be thoroughly investigated and perpetrators brought before the competent authorities.
Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa has documented evidences of these crimes, alongside eyewitness testimonies, video and photographic records.

*Felix Agbor Nkongho is the Founder/Director of
CENTRE for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa.

Friday, August 17, 2018

  Cameroon detainees reportedly forced to eat excrement, transported naked:CHRDA report

By Christopher Ambe

The Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA), with head office in Buea, has published a report about the blatant violation of suspects’ rights, titled “Cameroon Prisoners’ Rights in Flames”.
In the report, dated July 9, 2018, a copy of which was sent to our desk today, CHRDA notes with regret how mere suspects are reportedly subjected to various forms of torture including being forced to feed on excrement and transported for very long distances naked.
 CHRDA‘s Director is the celebrated and award-winning Cameroonian Human Rights Lawyer, Felix Angbor Nkongho.
The Cameroon Government, whose image is already battered since the eruption of the Anglophone crisis in October 2016, is yet to react to the report, in which it has been urged to stop further human rights violations and investigate the serious allegations for prosecution.
According to the report: “The Cameroon State security officers, comprising the gendarmerie, police and army, are committing serious violations of human rights in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture,the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), as well as other international and regional human rights instruments such as Robben Island Guidelines, the Luanda Guidelines on conditions of arrest, police custody and pre-trial detention and the Mandela Rules (Standard Minimum Rules) for the treatment of prisoners.”
The report states,” In July 2018, 18 Anglophone civilians [were] arbitrarily arrested detained, and [they] have shown signs suggesting they have been subjected to torture in cells in the Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé”.
The report observes that, although Cameroon authorities gave   assurances that torture was not used in line with the constitution which prohibits such, “we have strong reasons and evidence attesting to the fact that these 18 presumed-innocent individuals, are on a daily or weekly basis subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and other forms of human rights violations, such as denial of their right to fair and speedy trials and presumption of innocence.”
Find below excerpts of the report:
A. Facts & Circumstances
“According to their legal representatives, on 16 June 2018, Tanyi Robert Tataw,32, married with children, was arrested in Tinto, Upper Banyang Sub-Division,Manyu Division, South West Region. After molesting him, blindfolding him, asking him to consume excrements, and losing an eye in this process, he was transferred naked to Yaoundé, more than 460km (280miles) away from his place of arrest.
Another detainee, Acha Ivo, 35, married and father of 3, resident in Buea, was arrested while working in his farm. After he was shot by the army, he was rushed to the hospital by neighbors and relatives where a huge sum of money was paid for his medications, but he was later arrested and taken to the Buea Central Prison. He was subsequently transferred to Yaoundé under torrential downpour and inhuman conditions.
A soldier from the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), Fonjong Armstrong, took a work leave from his unit in Bamenda and was arrested by gendarmes in Mamfe without being allowed time to express himself. He was severely beaten and extorted before being transferred to the Buea Central Prison and later to Yaoundé.
Kendo Edwin Kendo, 41, married and father of 7, resident in Lebialem, was molested, extorted, looted and arrested by gendarmes while on his way to Buea and he lost a huge sum of money. He was detained in Buea, asked to consume excrements, before being transferred naked to Yaoundé.
Agbor Taku Joseph, 33, was arrested in Tiko and detained after he had a land dispute with his brother in 2016. He was arrested and later transferred from the Buea Central Prison to Yaoundé and now suffers and needs medical attention urgently.
Oben Franklin, 44, married and father of 5 from Tali village, was arrested on 16 June 2018 in Mamfe, after the security officers declared all bike owners/riders suspects. He was severely beaten, looted, and first jailed in Mamfe, before being transferred to Buea and finally to Yaoundé.
Ikoe Clinton, 23, professional teacher, arrested on 10 December 2017 while on his way to Mamfe. He was looted and told that all males from the Northwest and Southwest Regions are suspects.
Eyong Charles, 35, farmer, was molested and arrested while working in his farm, detained in Mamfe and transferred to Buea and later to Yaoundé.
John Marinus Ndenge, 43, businessman based in Buea, married and father of 5, was arrested with his wife at 8pm and his home was searched, looted, ransacked,and a huge sum was paid for the release of his wife who was 7 months pregnant at the time. He was molested, blindfolded, and transferred naked to Yaoundé.
Odema Francis, 38, motor electrician based in Limbe, serving a life
Imprisonment for theft but has already spent 15 years. He was transferred to Yaoundé on grounds that he is a terrorist or is associated with terrorism.
Effia Gideon Nji, a tapper at the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), was molested while returning from his farm and looted.

B. Legal Analyses
According to law, an individual may be arrested only with a warrant of arrest, and in respect of all procedures related to that court order, like informing the suspect of the crime s/he has committed.
If the circumstances under which each of them has been arrested are different, all of them follow the same patterns with the same complaints.
Some of the detainees have been shot, leading to severe injury, while others have been copiously molested, incapacitating them in violation of Articles 4 and 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the right to life and physical integrity. Forces of law and order must exercise restraint and resort to force and firearms only when such is unavoidable, but used as a last resort, must be proportionate, serve a legitimate aim, minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life and safety.
“The 18 Anglophone detainees spend lengthy nights sleeping on the floor, with little or no rest, shelter, food, water, health care or clothing, in violation of their most fundamental economic, social and cultural rights, violating Article 5 and 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the right to respect of human dignity, physical integrity and the right to a satisfactory environment necessary for their development.
“Transferring persons merely suspected of crimes for over 400km from their habitual place of residence or domicile to another jurisdiction where they will not enjoy legal assistance, family support and will be faced with linguistic barriers,violates their right to fair trial enshrined in Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
“Transferring same for at least 7hours 30minutes journey with little or no food,poor shelter, inadequate water, little or no clothing, or non-existent health care amounts to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of their right to life and physical integrity. The government must ensure sufficient, safe and acceptable daily water, including but not limited to, soap and detergent.
“Asking suspects to consume excrements is a form of intimidation, inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of their right to life and physical integrity.
“Detaining individuals for a lengthy period without speedy trial violates their right to fair trial9 and could amount to torture.
C. Recommendations
Kondengui, Buea and Mamfe Prison Administrations
CHRDA demands prison authorities to:
- Cease their torturous acts over the 18 Anglophone detainees and treat
them with humanity and dignity.
- Cease their inhuman acts and provide the detainees food, water, health
care, and other fundamental amenities.
- Ensure that the detainees are prevented from abuses by other inmates and prison guards.
 Police, Gendarmerie, Army
CHRDA demands the police, gendarmerie and army to:
- Desist from torturing or treating prisoners with disregard to international norms while conforming to the standards set forth in the Convention Against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
- Desist from transferring prisoners far away from their geographical locations and jurisdictions where they could properly be tried, and where they could easily enjoy legal services, family support, reduce cost of transportation and avoid linguistic barriers in conformity with international and regional standards including the Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa; the Guidelines on the Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody, and Pre-trial Detention in Africa; and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules).
- Desist from resorting to force and firearms where detainees do not present any risk of any nature to officers effecting the arrest in conformity with the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
CHRDA demands the Tribunals to:
- Order the speedy trial of the 18 detainees where all their rights recognized under national legislation and international treaties is observed.
CHRDA demands the government to:
- Create an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations in this report.
- Sanction any public servant in conformity with the law, who has taken part in any torturous act.
- Render public and without delay, the findings and recommendations of the independent commission of inquiry.
- Prosecute the public servants who have violated the rights of the 18 detainees and compensate them accordingly.
- Order the release on bail, mitigation of sentences, acquittal, or grant pardon to detainees who have been victims of human rights violations.
International community and stakeholders
CHRDA urges the international community and stakeholders to:
- Demand the government to respect its international obligations outlined
under respective treaties.
- Put pressure on the government to order speedy trials of detainees.
- Put pressure on the government to order the respect of the humanity and dignity of the detainees.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Cameroon Educates Youths on Commonwealth Core Values

By Vera Muyang Ngu*
Cameroon, which is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations since 1995, has embarked on popularizing the core values of this organization to its youths. The focus now appears to be the two English-speaking Regions of Cameroon, where the current Anglophone crisis, which is characterized by violence, vandalism, intolerance, and killings, is worsening.

After a seminar on the core values of the Commonwealth was organized recently  in Bamenda  of the Northwest region, the Minister-Delegate at the  Ministry of External Relation  in charge of  Commonwealth ,Felix Mbayu, was , last August 9, in Buea for a similar exercise. The seminar took place in the hall of Buea Council.
Minister Mbayu, in the presence of Southwest Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai, chaired the Popularization campaign on the Commonwealth Core Values and Principles, under the theme "Unity in Diversity: Aspiring Cameroonian Youth through the Common Wealth Core Values and Principles for respect and understanding.”
The core values and principles of the this 53-member intergovernmental organization include but not limited to:democracy,human rights, freedom of expression, good governance, rule of law, peace and security,tolerance,respect and understanding.
Launching the popularization campaign, Minister Mbayu said it would help the youths to internalize the core values, which he noted are time-tested.
“These are values which have served as pillars of social cohesion in most societies; values which have served as pillars of mutual understanding and peace-building”, he noted.
The minister said considering the circumstances [Anglophone crisis] Cameroon is facing at this time, nothing can be more timely than internalizing the core values
“This is because the crisis we are facing results from a breakdown of the rule of law, the lack of tolerance, mutual respect and understanding”, he said.
 Minister Mabyu said they came “to have a discussion with the youths of all the divisions of the Southwest Region, as a follow up to an event which we had in the Northwest Region where we assembled many youths as we have here today, to remind them that, to be the leaders of today and tomorrow, they must learn to talk to each other, not at each other”
He cautioned the participants against being insulting, since according to him, “insult is the only argument for those who don’t have any better argument”
The minister advised the youths against engaging in violence, but to become ambassadors of peace, and to give priority to education, which he described as the equalizer in society.
He urged the participants that, when they return to their respective   localities they should invite their friends who are in the bushes to return home “because there are no opportunities staying in bushes.”
In his presentation, Ngoe Fritz Akpo, director of Commonwealth Youth, who regretted the negative consequences of the Anglophone crisis, dwelled on the Commonwealth core values, explaining how if they are observed and applied, they would be helpful to all and sundry.
Earlier in his welcome speech, the Mayor of Buea,Patrick Ekema Esunge, saluted the timeliness of the campaign and urged the youth to be agents of peace and development. 
*Vera Muyang Ngu is a University of Buea Journalism intern.