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Gov’t Unleashes Terror In Northwest, Southwest Regions 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

Ever since Government banned the Anglophone Civil Society Consortium and the Southern Cameroons National conference, SCNC on Tuesday, January 17, the forces of law and order are combing every nook and cranny of the Northwest and Southwest Regions in search of “trouble makers”.

The heavy deployment of troops that evokes terror and the fear of the bullet on citizens, lays credence to observers’ claims that the Government has tacitly declared a State of emergency in the two Regions.

In the banning order, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, Rene Emmanuel Sadi, empowers administrative officials with excessive powers to order for the arrest and detention of anybody who sympathises with the two “illegal” groups.

To the Minister, the SCNC and the CACSC activities are not only contrary to the Constitution, but also liable to jeopardise the security of the State.

He said such activities are an affront to the territorial integrity, national unity and national integration.

“All activities, meetings and demonstrations initiated or promoted by the Southern Cameroon National Council, SCNC, the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, CACSC, any other related groups with similar objectives or by any partisan to these groups, are hereby prohibited all over the national territory”, partly reads the banning order.

The order further warns that defaulters shall be liable to legal proceedings in conformity with the law and regulation in force.

By virtue of that same order, Regional Governors, Senior Divisional Officers and Divisional Officers have been empowered to execute the decision.

It has given full powers to the administrators, some critics hold, to institute a reign of terror by arbitrarily arresting and detaining citizens.

This means that anybody who sympathises with the marginalisation of Anglophones is in danger.

Thus, advocates for a return to a Federal System of Government must hide in the woods to be able to express their opinions because they are now at the mercy of the police and gendarmerie elements.

Talks between the Anglophone Teachers’ Trade Unions and the Government collapsed last week when the former insisted that the latter should make a concrete statement on the possibility of a return to a Federal System of Government.

The consortium also insisted that they could only call off the strike if the detainees who were arrested in the Northwest and Southwest Regions were released.

The teachers further argued that only a Federal system can guarantee the protection and preservation of the Anglo-Saxon legal and educational system.

Government refused to entertain any talks on the last two points.

The Chair of the Inter-ministerial Adhoc Committee, Prof. Paul Ghogomu Mingo, said the Consortium had a hidden agenda because Federation and the release of the detainees have nothing to do with education.

Both parties, The Post learnt, agreed to continue talks on Wednesday, January 18. But before that day, the Chair of the Committee announced that the talks had ended.

The acerbic tone of Prof. Ghogomu’s communiqué on January 16 was the harbinger of the ban that Government slammed on the Consortium and the SCNC the next day.

“The State will effectively ensure the security of all young school-goers and university students in Cameroon, as it does to all Cameroonians and foreigners living in the country,” partly reads the press release.

This statement was the herald of the ministerial banning order and the consequent arrest of the President and Secretary General of the Anglophone Consortium, Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla and Dr. Fontem Neba on Tuesday evening.

The very people that Government was negotiating with to end the ongoing teachers and lawyers’ strike that started in November last year, are now being treated as “terrorists”.

Their main crime is that they presented the release of detainees and Federation as the last conditions for lifting the strike.

In a press conference in Yaounde, shortly before the banning order was announced, the Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, said Government will never accept a return to the Federal System.

Hear him: “the Head of State has affirmed without any ambiguity that the Unitary form of the State is intangible and Cameroon is one and indivisible and shall so remain.

There will therefore be neither Federalism nor secession”.

Tchiroma said: “These protesters are now revealing their hidden agenda, which consists of nothing else but questioning the institutions, destroying the bedrock of the nation, its unity, its solidarity and its territorial integrity.

Such people, who are at odds with the values of the nation leave those with whom the people have conferred the legitimacy of the exercise of their sovereignty, with no other choice than restore republican order”.

The Minister claimed that by rejecting calls for a return to Federation, Government was maintaining the path of the founding fathers of reunification who bequeathed a united nation to them.

He said the President of the Republic will not heed any proposal that has to do with changing the form of the State.

To him, President Biya is the guarantor of the aspirations of the Cameroonian people as enshrined in the Constitution.

Before slamming the ban on the Anglophone Consortium and the SCNC, Government had earlier briefed diplomats in Yaounde on the decision.

It was the substance of a meeting the Minister of External Relations, Lejeune Mbella Mbella had with members of the diplomatic community in Yaounde.

During the meeting, the Regional Representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, said the right to strike should not impede the right to attend school.

Contrary to earlier claims, Felix Loiteohin Ye said it is only the Government of a country that can declare a blank year and not UNESCO. Government used the occasion to attract the sympathy of the diplomats through a video projection that showed the magnitude of the violence in the Northwest and Southwest Regions.

In its advocacy campaign for banning SCNC and the Consortium, the Government selected video projectors that showed them how angry youths were chasing away students in the Francophone school in Limbe.

Besides banning the two outfits, the Government also cut internet lines in the Northwest and Southwest to stop youths from interpersonal communication and information sharing on social media.

Thus, these two Regions are cut off from the rest of the country internet-wise. From the look of things, Government is now on the war path. The economic impact of the repressive act is enormous.

Banks and other business enterprises that use the internet to operate are all grounded as they are unable to serve their customers.

Some mobile telephone companies sent messages to their customers saying they are unable to provide internet services due to reasons beyond their control.

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