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Mass Arrests Sweep Across Wokaka, Nursing Mother, Old Elders Detained 

By Isidore Abah, Andrew Nsoseka & *Esther Ewane

Protesting Wokaka villagers in front of Buea DO's office

Protesting Wokaka villagers in front of Buea DO’s office

Wokaka villagers in Buea Sub Division, Southwest Region, September 26, besieged the office of the Divisional Officer, DO, of Buea, Paul Wokam Kouam, demanding the release of their kith and kin who were arrested on September 24.

The villagers were arrested following an order from the DO of Buea. Among the arrested persons are a nursing mother and some elderly persons who are above 80 years.

Talking to The Post in front of the DO’s office on September 26, the Secretary General of the Wokaka Traditional Council, Robert Mbella Embola, said the villagers were arrested for opening a tap that was closed by Njombe, thus depriving the entire village of potable water.

“We cannot be living in a village that has water but our wives and children trek for several kilometres everyday just to fetch water because an individual, who is not even a native of Wokaka, has closed up the taps,” he said.

According to the Secretary General of the Wokaka Traditional Council, what actually triggered the mass arrest was the removal of pillars from private plots of land that have been earmarked for sale by Njombe.

The villagers said, after selling off over 60 hectares of land that was surrendered by the CDC to the village as New Layout, Njombe with the help of some administrators, came to Wokake and planted pillars on individual and communal land.

“We could no longer sit back and see our private land taken away from us and sold off, that is why we decided to remove all the pillars that have been planted on individual and community land.

It is apparently because of our resolve to reclaim our ancestral land that Njombe called in his friends to arrest us,” one of the villagers stated.

Meanwhile, after the September 24 arrests, the villagers were whisked-off to the Buea Central Police Station where they were detained.

Those who were not arrested followed their loved ones to the Central Police Station, but were sent back by angry-looking police officers, who asked them to channel their problem to the DO.
The villagers on their part refused to return to their houses without seeing the DO.

When the DO finally arrived the Police Station hours later, he ordered that all the arrested persons should be thrown behind bars for taking the law into their hands.

Wokam Kouam said nobody would be release until investigations into the matter are completed.

Why Administrators Have Remained Mute

According to the villagers, the Governor, SDO and DO have remained indifferent to the plight of the Wokaka people because “they have soiled their hands with the Wokaka community land.”

“This problem has been in court for over 16 years and Chief Njombe has never been to court and no bench warrant has ever been issued for him. This is because some court officials have also been given parcels of land in the village that is why they have been frustrating justice,” the villagers asserted.

It would be recalled that on July 11 this year, the villagers staged a protest march to the Southwest Attorney General’s office and the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedom, disowning Njombe as their Chief.

During the July protest, the villagers wrote on a placard, “PG has Njombe also pocketed you like the Buea DO, Fako SDO, Legal Department and the Governor?”

Villagers Warn SWECC Against Endorsing Njombe

Meanwhile, as the countdown to the elective General Assembly of the Southwest Chiefs Conference, SWECC, narrows, the people of Wokaka have cautioned the Southwest Chiefs not to endorse Njombe as their Presidential candidate.

According to them, if Njombe, who hasn’t got an iota of royalty in him, cannot effectively rule Wokaka, “how then can he lead a respectable association like SWECC?

They urged the custodians of the culture and tradition of the people of the Southwest Region not to debase the chieftaincy institution of the people by endorsing Njombe as SWECC Presidential candidate.

*(UB Journalism Student On Internship)

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