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Bizmen To Pay ‘Boko Haram’ Tax 

By Sarah Nduma Ekema

The Boko Haram terrorists’ crunch has gone beyond affecting human life and comfort to affecting the very heart of business in most parts of the country. Economic activity is known to have practically gone aground, especially in Far North Cameroon where the evil ones are perpetrating havoc.

Elsewhere, travelers are being systematically scrutinized to ensure that the marauding bandits don’t infiltrate unsuspecting crowds and plant their killer bombs. Plus, security operatives are known to be working out their hearts to save innocent life and limb.

In Buea the Mayoral authorities have been taxing a certain business class of persons in a bid to ensure that travelers leave and enter the town free from the menace of the lurking terrorists. But the business persons are not at all in accord with the idea, neither do they think that even if they had to “buy safety off Boko Haram” it should be as expensive as the Council wants it.

A Municipal decision signed by Patrick Ekema Esunge, Mayor of the Buea Council on August 5, 2015 compels every Chief Executive Officer, CEO, and Manager of the Build Operate and Transfer, BOT, facility at the Mile 17 Motor Park to pay FCFA 1,000,000 (one million francs) as a security imperative.

This amount would be used in fencing off the park and ensuring that only “clean individuals” enter, do business and leave the park at specific periods. They were asked to pay up within a period of two weeks at a meeting held between the Buea Council and a ‘mixed commission’ at the Mayor’s office. A “letter of compliance” signed by the Mayor, dated August 5, 2015 to the CEO of Agencies and Managers (BOT) states inter alia:

“Considering the series of meetings that have been held on instructions from regional Authority to intensify measures within the Municipality in order to curb, or better still, prevent the tactics of the ruthless terrorist arm in inflicting pain and damage on the innocent populace,
Mindful of the deadline of 30 days given by the Governor of the Region to execute the proposed fencing project and acquisition of surveillance gadgets,

We hereby, adhere you to comply with the resolutions reached at in order to keep the population and most importantly your lives and businesses free from any possible ploy…”

Going by the calculations of those who attended and eventually appended their signatures to the minutes of the “Second Meeting Between The Buea Council and the Mixed Commission”, some FCFA 36,544,000 is expected to accrue from the contributions. And given the ostensible haste with which the project must be realized, effective work on the fence begins on August 20, 2015.

The same minutes talks of the Mayor as having squashed (sic) an earlier proposal by Kennedy Njoh, spokesperson for the BOT partners of FCFA 500,000 to be paid by each of the business persons. The Mayor is further quoted in the minutes as warning:

“…in response to the BOT spokesperson squashed (sic) such proposal reminding them that he has decided to give a human face to their contracts, if not, if those contracts are revisited most of them will be found seriously wanting.”

Going by the same minutes, the “…2nd Deputy Mayor of the Buea Council gave the rationale that since the Council is the main partner, it is only obvious it gets the lion’s share of FCFA 20,000,000 from the FCFA 36,544,000 and that all other partners will pay FCFA 1,000,000 each.”
Six individuals were subsequently appointed to head the implementation of the project. Resolutions arrived at include;

1) The sum of one million francs each to be paid by the BOT and Agency partners
2) The Council will pay FCFA 20 million
3) The deadline of two weeks should be respected to pay in levies
4) The commission, alongside the Council administration will meet on August, 19th 2015
5) Work begins on August 20th 2015 after the inauguration of the project
6) The council and partners will proceed with the inauguration of the project on August 20th at 1:00pm.

Yet, the snag, as earlier indicated is that the BOT operators are wary about the said project, even though it borders on their very safety and that of others with whom they do business.
One of them told The Post that having paid up all taxes accruing both to the Council and Government, it was but normal for such a security project to be funded from that source. Another one quarreled with what he thought was an exorbitant levy of a million francs while yet another person protested that the so called Kennedy Njoh who was being projected as their spokesperson was, to say the least, illegitimate. According to him, Njoh is by no means a Chief Executive Officer of any business at the Mile 17 Motor Park.

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