Armed Conflict In NW, SW:

Many Flee As Gov’t Steps Up Crackdown On Suspected Separatists, Sympathisers

By Cynthia Bakoma

While the crisis that has been rocking the North West and South West regions, which has spiraled into an armed conflict, rages on, the government has stepped up its crackdown on all those suspected to be activists or sympathisers to the Anglophone cause.

Family members of separatist leaders have also being arrested and detained.

In this light, security operatives have been indiscriminately arresting Anglophone activists, suspected activists and separatist sympathisers. Sources say the arrested persons are being detained under deplorable and inhuman conditions. Some have reportedly died in detention.

This has caused many of them to flee into hiding and the whereabouts of many is not known.

One case is that of Nkah Lucien, an alleged sympathizer and promoter of secessionist activities. He has been accused of speaking against the government and propagating secessionist activities. Nkah Lucien is said to have been distributing flyers and posters in the market places, schools and other gatherings carrying secessionist propaganda.

He has been accused of supporting Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius and other separatists in their quest for the independence of the North West and South West regions to become a country they have christened Ambazonia.

Nkah Lucien was arrested, tortured and detained under horrible conditions at the central police station in Limbe, Fako Division of the South West region. He was, however, later released on bail and warned to desist from secessionist activities.

Nonetheless, he is said to have continued carrying out such activities. It is for this reason that Nkah was arrested again and detained in Limbe. However, while arrangements were being made for him to be transferred to Yaounde, he escaped from detention. His whereabouts is not known.

If arrested, Nkah Lucien will be tried in a military tribunal, under the anti-terrorism law, whose maximum punishment is the death sentence. That is if he is not killed outright, like many others who have been victims of extrajudicial killings.

Origin of Anglophone Crisis

It should be recalled that the Anglophone crisis, something that pundits say had been brewing for several years, boiled over in 2016, when Common Law Lawyers in the North West and South West regions went on strike. They were demanding for the return of the federal system of government, redeployment of Civil Law Magistrates back to Civil Law Courts in French Cameroon, among other grievances. Not long after, teachers in the North West and South West regions also went on strike, demanding for the redress of several issues concerning the English system of education.

Things, however, got worst when Anglophones in both regions, who had been fed up with the unfavourable political and economic situation of the country, the use of French as the dominant and official language, and the marginalisation of the Anglophones, joined the strike.

The crisis recently degenerated into an armed conflict when some Anglophones picked up arms to fight for independence of the Anglophone regions.

The armed conflict has caused the deaths of thousands and thousands more internally displaced with some living in bushes while several other thousands have fled to neighbouring Nigeria, where they are living as refugees.

Separatist leader, Sissiku AyukTabe, and nine others, who were arrested in Nigeria and later extradited to Cameroon, are currently detained at the Kondengui maximum security prison in Yaounde, from where they have been attending trial at the Yaounde military tribunal.

While the Anglophone crisis continues to escalate, international organisations and other western powers have called on the government to address the root cause through dialogue.

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