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Families Of Arrested Ghost Town Victims Decry Police, Gendarmerie Extortion 

By Isidore Abah

Family members of scores of young people who were arrested in the wake of last Monday’s Ghost Town Operation have decried extortion by police and gendarmerie officers.

On January 9, security forces raided Mile 16 and Mutengene in the Southwest Regions, arresting over 30 youths and remanded them into various police and gendarmerie cells across the Region.

For a week now, the relatives and friends of the arrested youths have been struggling to secure the release of their loved ones to no avail.

The few who have succeeded to do so have paid a huge financial prize to the forces of law and order in the process.

According to one of the youths who was arrested in Mile16 and later on released, “I was arrested at the Mile 16 filling station for trying to purchase fuel for my bike.

Since there were no taxis on the road and movement was restricted, I decided to buy fuel for my bike to enable me move around because I had some errands to run on that day.

But I was arrested by the Gendarmerie Commander and his team and thrown into one of their trucks.

After a while, another truck, which was carrying other arrested youths, drove to a halt at Mile 16.

Some of us were thrown into the police truck and it zoomed off to the Gendarmerie Brigade cell in Buea, while the other truck drove towards Mutengene.

While in custody, my parents did everything possible to secure my release to no avail. The gendarme officers told my father to go to Limbe and negotiate for my release there.

According to them, the order came from their boss in Limbe to have us arrested. While in Limbe, he was sent back to Buea on grounds that it is Buea that has the power to handle such cases.

When he returned to Buea he was told that it is only at the level of Yaounde where our fates would be decided. I was only released after my father showed the documents which I used to seat for the Rapid Battalion Intervention, BIR, Entrance Examination.

The others who were also arrested are still in custody. We were over 30 of us who were arrested on that day.

While in custody, one guy told us that he was arrested in Mundemba in the Bakassi Peninsula and transported to Buea.

According to him, he was arrested because the police discovered that one of his contact names in his phone was saved as Paul Biya,” he recounted.

When The Post visited the Toh family in Mile 16, they were weeping and wailing about their son, Evans Toh, who was picked up right in their business premises while he was frying fish pie.

According to them, since his arrest, their mother has been shuttling between Limbe and Buea to secure his release. “All the gendarmes keep asking is give money for this, give money for that yet our brother is still in detention,” one of the sisters fumed.

Just like the Tohs, the relatives of Clinton Agbor, who was also arrested, are disturbed that their sick brother may not return alive.

According to one of them who spoke to The Post, “Agbor left Douala to do some work in Mile 16.

But because of ill health, he decided not to work on that Monday. He was sitting outside the house when he was arrested by the police.

He has been in detention instead of the hospital where he was planning to go to after the Ghost Town on Monday,” she stated.

Denizens of Mile 16 who spoke to The Post castigated the haphazard and arbitrary arrests carried out in Mile 16 in the wake of the January 9 Ghost Town operation.

“You cannot imagine that police and gendarmes would arrest somebody simply because he came out from his room to pick up the bed sheet he had earlier washed and spread on the line.

Houses inside the quarters were broken into by the police and gendarmes and young men arrested, even those who had not left their homes the entire day,” an enraged denizen of Mile 16 told these reporters.

Just like Mile 16, it was a similar incident in Mutengene, especially in the Rangers Neighbourhood where several young people picked up by security forces.

According to a certain Clinton who was arrested on January 9 alongside his brother and released on January 13, “we left the house in the evening for a walk in Rangers when we were arrested by the police and gendarmerie officers that were not in possession of our National Identity Cards.

Even those who had their ID cards were also taken into custody. We were only released on January 13, after our parents have paid huge sums of money to the gendarmes,” he said.

Clinton further told The Post that the police and gendarmerie officers arrested nine of them and only released two of them after their parents met with their financial demands.

The police and gendarmerie raiding of Mile 16 and Mutengene is not surprising, given that on January 9, during the Ghost Town operations, some irate youths mounted road barricades in Mile 16, rendering access to and out of Buea impossible.

It was the same thing in Mutengene, where some unidentified young men block the main road leading to Limbe to prevent trucks from leaving with fuel from the lone oil refining corporation.