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Monday’s Uproar In SW: Principal, Vice Sacked For Raising False Alarm 

By Isidore Abah & Andrew Nsoseka

Deserted Campus of GHS Malende

The dust raised by a false alarm about the Ambazonian Tigers’ plan to strike schools in the Southwest Region on Monday, January 15, has finally settled with the sacking of the Principal of Government High School, GHS, Malende, Francis Manchang Oben and his Vice, Davidson Ashu Tanyi.

The duo was fired by the Minister of Secondary Education, Jean Ernest Massena Ngalle Bibehe, on Wednesday, January 17, and replaced by Florence Nkwentta and Etienne Akem Nji respectively.

The sacking is not unconnected to the January 15 uproar that swept across the Southwest Region.
It would be recalled that when news of the impending attack broke, parents, teachers, police superintendents, other security operatives and the general public were plunged into pandemonium.

While pupils and students who were already in their respective classrooms stormed out and took to their heels, parents and guardians who were either at their job sites or at home abandoned their offices and whatever they were doing and began rushing to the schools to fetch their children.

In fact, the scenario in the Southwest Regional capital, Buea, was synonymous to that of Bangui in the Central African Republic in the wake of the civil war that quaked through that country some years back.

In the midst of this uproar, parents by-passed their children on the way without knowing, while some children even scampered away from their parents into the bushes as if they were the “tigers”
As fleet-footed Cameroonians darted in search of safe havens, questions like: Why are they running? Who is chasing them? Where are they running to? remained rhetorical.

As the confusion raged on, security operatives in the Region looked more confused than the population. Some abandoned their duty posts and rushed to the various schools to first secure their kids, while those who were guarding financial institutions, especially in Molyko, first took to their heels, running faster than the University of Buea students. They only returned to their duty posts several minutes after.

Who Raised The Alarm?

In the heat of the confusion, Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai, convened a press conference where he urged the population of the Region to remain calm.

To him, the information was blown out of proportion by rumour mongers with the intention of instilling panic in the population.

Governor Okalia Bilai said the false alarm was raised by the Principal of Government High School, GHS, Malende, who alerted parents to come and get their children from school due to an impending attack.
In a bid to get to the root of the January 15, commotion, The Post drove to GHS Malende, where the fuss reportedly originated.

Principal, Vice, PTA Chair In Police Custody

Meanwhile, when these reporters visited GHS Malende on Tuesday, January 16, the school campus was as silent as a cemetery. Even though there were teachers on campus that morning, only 14 students out of the 256 students that answered present on Monday before the false alarm went viral, were present.

When The Post requested to see the Principal of the school, the staff on campus said the Principal, Francis Mandang Oben, one of the Vice Principals, Davidson Tanyi and the Parent Teachers Association, PTA, Chairperson, Elonge, were in police custody in connection to the January 15 uproar.

The school officials said the Principal and the two others were arrested by the Territorial Surveillance Police and were accused of breaking false news. But they said the news did not originate from the school.

According to them, the Principal received a call that morning from the PTA Chairman, Elonge, in which he was informed that Ambazonian Tigers were going to attack the school. Before the Principal could even inform some members of staff, parents were already trooping into the school campus to get their children.

Our sources said all efforts to dissuade the parents from taking their children back home yielded no fruits.

Bitter Past Experience

Our sources further stated that the Principal could do little to prevent parents from taking their children back home, given that the memories of September 2, 2016, attack on the school was still fresh in his mind.

Going by our dependable sources, on September 2, 2016, Oben received an anonymous call that the school was going to be stormed by some unknown men.

“He immediately summoned an emergency staff meeting and we resolved that we were not going to send the students out of campus. After the meeting, the Principal informed the Special Branch Police in Muyuka to send security on campus to protect the students, but they said they were in Ekona and could not make it to the school campus.

Minutes after, some youths invaded the school and there was total commotion on campus, as students and teachers were running for their lives. Some school properties were destroyed and the Principal was wounded as he struggled to escape from the irate youths. So, it was only normal for him to avoid a similar situation again that Monday that almost cost the lives of many students.”

Our sources said, before classes could effectively resume in the school, the Principal went from door to door, crusading for parents to send their children back to school.