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Bamenda Under “State Of Emergency” 

By Chris Mbunwe & Glory Mbuwil

Stones against guns, one against many in Bamenda town

Stones against guns, one against many in Bamenda town

The call by the Teachers’ Trade Unions for parents, teachers, pupils and students to remain at home from November 21, following an indefinite strike declared by Anglophone teachers was very successful in the Northwest Region.

Other commercial activities, Government offices and private enterprises functioned unperturbed.

But a reporter with Abakwa FM Radio, Mancho BBC, took everyone by storm when he surfaced at the City Chemist with a casket and started indicting the Bamenda City Council for the deplorable road network and the dirtiness of the town.

As the crowd surged-in, commercial bike riders and other hoodlums joined Mancho’s crusade against the Bamenda City Council.

“I have bought my own coffin to be killed and buried in it; my three piece suit is inside so you need not worry. My car will convey my remains to my village. Let soldiers come and kill me.

This nonsense must stop. Enough is enough,” Mancho stated.

From the Council, the crowd carrying green leaves kept on increasing.

All pleas from the SDF Chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi, the Moderator of the PCC, Right Rev. Samuel Fonki, the Bamenda Archbishop, Cornelius Fontem Esua and Governor Adolph Lele L’Afrique, for the protesters to go home failed.

“We are appealing to these youths to go to their homes because nothing can be resolved in a state of lawlessness.

Parents should make sure they take good care of their children, while Government looks for solutions to the grievances of the teachers and lawyers.

We do not want to lose lives again,” Bishop Esua and Moderator Fonki averred.

Despite the appeal by the aforementioned personalities for Mancho BBC to plead with the demonstrators to go home in peace before the situation degenerates, Mancho’s attempt to call-off the strike action fell on deaf ears.

The Protesters ignored the plea from the person who started the strike and went on rampage, mounting road blocks, burning tires on the road and damaging call boxes.

As the protesters started chanting anti-Government songs, marching towards ENEO, MTN, Orange, Camtel, Brasseries ,Guinness and other business premises, the Government drafted in anti-riot gendarmes and police, who clashed with the coffin-carrying protesters at City Chemist Roundabout, T-junction, Veterinary Junction, Rendezvous , Mile 2, Mobile Nkwen, Foncha Junction, Hospital Roundabout, Ntarinkon Park and Atuakom.

The forces of law and order rented the air with tear gas and life ammunition throughout the night. On Tuesday, November 22, Government drafted in over 10 trucks loaded with troops from Kutaba.

The troops were armed to the teeth and ready to kill. As early as 6:00am, protesters had re-mounted road brackets.

In response, the soldiers opened fire on the protesters, before 10:00am, they were deadly clashes between protesters and the forces of law and order.

The situation worsened  by midday, as troops started firing life bullets at Small Mankon.

A young man, Martin Ngala, who hails from Tabenken was shot on the ribs.

Along the Commercial Avenue, behind a renowned hotel, the legs of a girl and a boy where shattered by bullets.

In Tubah, a night watchman was shot on the leg, while at Mile two and Foncha Streets, robber bullets wounded over 10 protesters.

Speaking to the press in the wake of the crisis, Northwest Governor, Aldoph Lele L’Afrique, said he has held several talks with teachers and lawyers to call off the strike because the Government has started solving the problems, despite what he said, was the massive boycott of the Yaounde Inter-Ministerial Meeting by CATTU, TAC, PEATU and others.

He wondered why the teachers’ trade unions keep singing that they are open to dialogue only to turn around and snubbed dialogue from the administration.

On the arson, teargasing and shooting of protesters, Governor Lele L’Afrique said he has been informed about a night watchman, Peter Shey Ngwan Nyuyki, who was shot in Tubah and was rushed to the Mbingo Hospital where he later died.

The Governor warned that Cameroon is a State of law and will not leave anything to chance.

“Those fomenting trouble are neither striking lawyers nor teachers,” the administrator said.

The Governor called on the peace loving population of Bamenda to go about their businesses in peace, assuring them that the troops are in town to protect lives and property and not to kill.

He said vandals who have taken Bamenda hostage are exploiting the strike action for personal gains,“looting, burning the tare, harassing and rapping female students and they will pay dearly for the crimes committed.”

Officials from Les Brasseries confirmed to this reporter that a truck loaded with drinks destined for Mamfe from Bafoussam was halted at Mile 90 Nsongwa on the Bamenda-Bali road and all the 700 crates were looted by the protesters.

Speaking to The Post, Fru Ndi expressed indignation over the widespread shooting of teargas right into his home and at the maternity section of the Bamenda Regional Hospital.

“I followed the policeman who did that right to their station at GMI, he stood dumfounded and I warned even the Governor who heard I was at the Police Station that I, Fru Ndi, will not take this act lying down.

Though this policeman knows me and hails from Mezam, he could have known that there are certain places that are no go areas for teargas.

This is the highest provocation because there was nobody the police were chasing that ran into this compound, warranting them to open teargas as much as six canisters right inside my compound.

I have been to the hospital to visit those who were shot and one is at the re-animation, bullets shattered his lungs and ribs.”Fru Ndi noted.

According to him, the forces of law and order were supposed to guide protesters and ensure that no harm is done to those protesting and to protect property.

“I can rightly infer that the soldiers ordering people to shut up business places are the ones reinforcing the strike action,” Fru Ndi said.

He recalled that the lawyers and teachers strikes went on peacefully and ended up in casualties, provoked by men in uniform.

The SDF Chieftain condemned the drafting of soldiers from other Regions into the Northwest to handle skirmishes, which soldiers on the spot can conveniently deal with.

With the untold hardship that the population is going through, the SDF Chieftain suggested that the teachers and lawyers should suspend the strike for now and resume in January after Christmas and New Year.

To him, this will permit business persons who borrowed money to stock their shops to sell and refund the borrowed money to avoid paying huge interests.

“I am talking from the experience we had when we used to carryout ghost town operations.

You allow the people recover and when you bounce back, you swing into-action with renewed energy,” Fru Ndi said.