Ever since the Biya Francophone regime stepped up its military campaign in Southern Cameroons as the Ambazonia diaspora withdrew support for the Interim Government headed then by Dr Ikome Sako, the Southern Cameroons territory fell into the hands of three authorities: Cameroon government security apparatus, pro-French Cameroun militias aka Atanga Nji Boys and the Ambazonia Restoration Forces. Two among the three have been working to stifle the Southern Cameroons struggle for freedom and quest for statehood.
The situation has become so complex with the Biya regime’s security agencies imposing their grip on both the Southern and Northern zones and is giving a free hand to French Cameroun loyalist militias that are now threatening and blackmailing Southern Cameroons residents. The Cameroon government military has also given militants of the ruling CPDM party and their own armed militias’ wide-ranging powers.
Elements of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), the elite force that was created with the support of the Israeli regime are now exploiting Southern Cameroonians in Ground Zero for military and economic reasons. In Manyu, Bui and Menchum Counties, residents returning to their homes from the bushes have been subjected to security raids and the regime has arrested many for failing to present valid identification papers.
Since late 2019, many returning young Southern Cameroonians have also been killed and hundreds detained in military barracks in French Cameroun. In Muyuka and in Mamfe in the Southern zone, Ambazonian citizens have become a source of income for Cameroon government security agencies. Cameroon government’s gendarmerie, its Francophone dominated police force, the army and elements of the Rapid Intervention Battalion have used forced arrest and detention campaigns to extort poor Southern Cameroons families, who pay them money to leave their sons and daughters alone, or to facilitate getting them out to safe places in French Cameroun.
All the top militias in Southern Cameroons including members of the Cho Ayaba’s ADF gang are backed by the Cameroon government army. There are also CPDM militias such as the Minister Atanga Nji Boys that have been using Cameroon government military bases in Buea and Bamenda to carry out pro Yaounde regime operations in Southern Cameroons.
Members of these Cameroon government militias have killed hundreds of Southern Cameroonians and spread fear among the population in Ground Zero, which is currently seeing repeated murders and hit and run killings in places like Bamenda, Kumba, Kumbo, Wum, Batibo and Tombel. One of the most tragic was the killing of a child in Muyuka last year.
Cameroon government militias and Southern Cameroons gangs that recently emerged following the collapse of the Sako Ikome-Chris Anu administration have also been responsible for a rising wave of kidnappings of civilians in order to extort ransoms to cover their own financial needs. To be sure, senior Cameroon government army officers are strengthening themselves financially by setting up groups headed by well trained soldiers specialized in theft and hired killings. There is increasing harassment of business owners and traders by both Cameroon government army soldiers and Ambazonia criminal gangs and taxes on transportation are imposed by Cameroon government militias that control military checkpoints on various roads in Southern Cameroons. Many attempts by the business communities to go about their activities have been met with a stone wall by the three forces that control Southern Cameroons namely: Cameroon government security apparatus, pro-French Cameroun militias aka Atanga Nji Boys and the Ambazonia Restoration Forces. This has forced several business men and women to pay monetary royalties and bribes to get their businesses running again.
The consortium of the ruling CPDM crime syndicates is the third arm of the triumvirate running Southern Cameroons. The government party was the only political entity that campaigned in Southern Cameroons in the February twin poll with armored vehicles and military helicopters. The ruling CPDM party has knowingly or unknowingly created a new constituency in Cameroon politics—the army.
The Cameroon government army is working hard reviving CPDM party branches in both French and Southern Cameroons and instituting a spying and monitoring network made up of CPDM party staffers, sending them into various parts of Southern Cameroons in heavily guarded military convoy. The military is now present in every ruling CPDM party celebrations and activities in Southern Cameroons and they are overseeing several conferences and party events aimed at increasing Biya and French Cameroun’s dominance and the influence in the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.
Biya Francophone Beti Ewondo authorities have over the last four years imposed a policy of discrimination in Southern Cameroons and above all, fanning the flames of the North West/South West Divide. The Southern Cameroons territory, where the French Cameroun regime has been in charge for 58 years, still has no iota of development despite pleas by its poor citizens.
For 58 years, Southern Cameroonians have suffered from almost continuous power and mains water cuts. For 58 years, Southern Cameroonians have lived under the constant shadow of accusations that they had previously embraced the option of joining the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and threats that they will pay the price for this. Many who joined the Francophone dominated public service never had a rise in the system and were deprived of their rights.
The level of barbarism being perpetuated by Mr Biya’s military and his government militias as they pursue their genocidal war and scorch earth policy to completely annihilate the Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia) is alarming. So far, as a result of the on-going genocide in the Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia), an estimated 20,000 people have been killed, over 280 towns and villages have been burnt down, over 120,000 people are seeking refuge in Nigeria and further afield, over 1million people are internally displaced or living in bushes and over 3,000 persons incarcerated in prisons and detention facilities. It is also reported that over 4.5. Million people are at risk of famine. One thing we know for sure is that Mr Biya and his military and private militia will be held accountable for these crimes. While not exonerating Ambazonian self-defense forces, we also know that Mr Biya’s government is doing everything through its private militia (popularly known as Atanga Nji Boys) to commit atrocities and link them to self-defense forces, so as to evoke international sympathy. Only an independent fact-finding mission can establish the facts and thus far, Mr. Biya’s government has resisted all requests by independent humanitarian organizations to visit Southern Cameroons and establish the facts.
By Asu Isong in London