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10 Suspected Boko Haram Militants Arrested in Maroua 

By Divine Ntaryike Jr with Field Reports

( — A flurry of reports emanating from Cameroon’s administrative Far North region suggest that after months of indecision, the authorities have formally begun apprehending and incarcerating persons with suspected links to the Nigerian terror group, the Boko Haram.

The hypothesis is bolstered by news of the recent capture and detention of 10 presumed Boko Haram militants by security forces at a locality called Dabanga, some 70 km east of Kousseri. Abakachi Alifa, a reporter with the regional newspaper, L’Oeil du Sahel confirmed late Monday in a phone interview that the suspects were rounded up since January 2.

“The men told gendarmes they were Sunnite preachers, and that they were returning to their base in Kousseri from the ‘DaawaIslamiya’ Quran instruction center in the regional capital Maroua.  They said they had gone there for a spiritual retreat.  According to them, it is in their religious tradition to trek back home and seize the occasion to preach the word of Allah in villages they pass through,” Alifa recounted.

But following a tip off, administrative authorities in the Logone and Chari division, where the “DaawaIslamiya” institute is based immediately ordered their arrest.  Our sources indicate that the Divisional Officer, Ernest Ewango Babou personally interrogated the suspects, who straightaway denied any links with the Boko Haram. 

But unconvinced, the administrator ordered that the suspects be conveyed to his superiors in the regional capital Maroua.  He instructed four elements from the Kousseri Territorial Gendarmerie Brigade to use a pick-up van belonging to the Logone and Chari Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife to transport the suspects.

Jean Areguema, another reporter with L’Oeil du Sahel, adds that once they arrived in Maroua on January 3, the Governor of the Far North region ordered their incommunicado detention at a mosque in the Domayo neighborhood.  They were denied visits by relatives and all forms of contact with the outside world. Relations of the suspects say they now believe the men have been moved to a secret location.

“My father went to look for my brother who is believed be to among those arrested, but he has not been able to trace where they are being held,” Abakar Kalia, a fraught-looking relative of one the nabbed men complained at the weekend and about a week after the arrests were made. 

“The Lamido as well as the Imam of the Maroua Central Mosque have been working hard for them to be released, but no one knows where they are presently.  I cannot return to Kousseri without pertinent information on what may have happened to my brother,” he added.

Meantime, two of the four gendarme officers who escorted the suspected Boko Haram preachers to Maroua were killed upon return to Kousseri on January 4.  Reports indicate they were involved in a gory accident on the fringes of the Waza National Park.  While the circumstances of their demise remain unclear, it is hoped that the two other survivors will provide details of how the accident occurred when they emerge from their critical conditions.

The arrests come hard on the heels of a December 31 decision by the Nigerian government to temporarily shut down its land boundaries with Cameroon, Chad and Niger as a means of impeding cross-border activities by militants of the radical Islamic terrorist group.  Ever since, intelligence officers in the Far North Region have stepped up surveillance of Islamic learning centers, grilling teachers and preachers alike and shutting down several institutions.

Authorities in the North Region have meantime announced the uncovering of a Bokom Haram hideout at Lagdo.  The declarations come amid growing insinuation by observers that Cameroonian authorities were dragging their feet in sincerely collaborating to quash the radical sect and its militants, who are increasingly seeking refuge in the country’s northern parts, following harsh clampdowns on them in northeastern Nigeria.

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