The Fons of Menka and Buchi Villages in Santa Subdivision, as at Sunday May 27, were of the firm conviction that the killed 30 people in Menka, Pinyin, by soldiers were armed bandits and not Ambazonian Forces.
They said, for three days (Wednesday May 24 to Friday May 26), hoodlums terrorised the population of Pinyin as they went round the villages stealing goats, pigs, fowls; collecting local guns from homes; abducting young boys and girls and demanding ransom or raping girls. The gang is said to have finally settled at the defunct Star Hotel on the outskirts of Menka, about one kilometre from the Central town.
Star Hotel Proprietor Recounts Ordeal
Talking to The Post in Pinyin on Saturday, May 26, the Proprietor of Star Hotel, Cletus Cheo, 30, married to two wives and a father of several children, said he was confronted on Wednesday, May 23, at about midday on his farm, while he was spraying crops, by five boys who told him they are out on a serious mission and it would be good for them to go and talk with him in his hotel.
“When we got here, I discovered that there were more than 15 of them. They were not masked. I told them that, since the hotel business was no longer doing well, I decided to transform it into my family home, though I have a comfortable home I constructed before the hotel.
“I then asked them about the serious issue they wanted us to discuss. One of them said they are Ambazonian fighters and were here to fight for us and that they think this hotel will serve as an operational base. They said, from here, they will engage in the fight for liberation. I became so frightened.
The one who spoke pulled out FCFA 49,000 and handed to me to go and buy drinks so that, as we are discussing, we should be drinking. I refused. He threatened me, brandishing a gun and a knife. I had no choice, so, I took the money and went for the drinks. That is how I got out of the house and that gave me the opportunity to narrate this story to my mother, wife and children.
“My mother came and we all pleaded with them to leave my house. They were adamant. Instead, they started beating my mother in front of me and warning me not to tell anybody that they are here, else I will be a corpse the next minute. As they were drinking and installing themselves, news started circulating round the villages.
“At 11.00pm, my mother and I were released on conditions that we were separating on an oath that nobody will hear of this story. We went home trembling and I immediately took my mother to the hospital for treatment.
“Since then, I have not been here, until Friday, at about 5.00am when someone told me that information is circulating that the police will storm the hotel. The shooting here started at 6.00 am when the fellows were still inside with girls they brought along. Many were killed. Some, who were fleeing the area, were shot. My house is completely damaged.
Khan Patrick Awa On The Run As Troops, Gunmen Demand His Head
Meanwhile, the greatest victim of the Menka-Pinyin massacre is Khan Patrick Awa, head of the Khan family in Pinyin. The health worker is currently on the run as both Government security officers and the armed men are looking for him.
If caught by any of the parties, Khan Patrick Awa will be slaughtered for what both parties have termed “betrayal.”
The Post learnt that when the armed youths first stormed Pinyin on May 22, 2018, they forcefully took over the Khan’s family house at gun point. However, when the gunmen discovered that the news has leaked to the security forces, they stormed out of the house and sought refuge in Star Hotel before meeting their waterloo as they were all neutralised by Government security forces.
After the incident, the security forces opened a manhunt for Khan Patrick Awa; accusing him of housing those they termed “terrorists and secessionists.”
Meanwhile, on their part, the gunmen are demanding the head of Khan Patrick Awa, for selling them out to Government security forces and causing the death of almost 30 of their members.
Speaking to this reporter, one of the relatives of Khan Patrick Awa said they fear for the life of their child because after the incident, both Government troops and the gunmen have been visiting their house, asking for his whereabouts. “We pray that God will protect our son wherever he is,” our source said.
Santa Deputy Mayor, Gideon Muluh, Counts The Dead
“It has been an unfortunate incident and since I was born and bred here, I have never witnessed such a scenario where people have been slain. We are here to count the dead. So far, some Bali women who came here have identified eight corpses and they have been carried to Bali for burial; Buchi, a neighbouring village, identified and collected five corpses; Bamendankwe, one corpse; Njong Santa one; the others are from Menka where we are standing. As at now, we can say 27 corpses have been found, but there may still be more in the bush. Of these 27, families have claimed 25 and if the rest of the corpses are not collected, the Council will take its responsibility. The most pathetic story is that the forces followed some of these innocent fellows to the hospital who were on drips, pulled them out and carried them to the junction and shot the two to death.
Councillor Elias Forku Corroborates Mayor Muluh
Corroborating Mayor Muluh, Councillor Elias Forku said: “We have mobilised to evacuate these corpses as soon as possible. However, some are decomposing so fast, because, they were shot at close range by the police. One thing is clear; that these boys were not masked but armed; that they terrorised the three villages, stole goats and pigs, kidnapped beautiful girls demanding ransom and brought them to this hotel and raped them. However, three of the kidnapped; two boys and a girl, escaped.”
His Majesty Terence Atanga Ndi IV Of Buchi Speaks
Fon Atanga Ndi said one of his sons, Mokum Atanga, whom he suspected as the gang leader, was with the boys who terrorised the population, was killed during the crossfire.
“This is a young man whose dubious activities… as we know, has been a thief. You cannot imagine that he enters the palace and collects artefacts to the tune of FCFA 15 million and sells them. He collected tiger skins, royal spears, among others and sells. “
His Majesty Fon Pius Asobo Ngu Of Menka Laments
Fon Pius Asobo Ngu of Menka regretted what happened, saying it was a Black Friday for his people. He, however, quickly withdrew saying; “Please, I am not granting any interview.”
Meantime, The Post caught-up with a Prince of Menka Village, David Atehyim, who stated; “I am the oldest Prince of this Palace. These boys went and dragged our Fon from the farm, claiming that they are Amba Boys who have come to fight for our independence and the Fon has to obey the instructions from them, else, he will have it hot. They entered and stole artefacts from this Palace and left.”
Students and some bike riders this reporter spoke to pleaded for their identities to be shielded.
“I am a student of SAR/SM Santa. With the fierce gun battle and the corpses I saw, I decided to collect three of my younger ones up the hill since Friday evening and we are going to return when peace returns.”
The bikers held that: “We are afraid that the soldiers will come and repeat the last scene. You will recall that this thing started a few months ago when soldiers stormed our neighbouring village, Ngongsa, searching for arms and seized a good number of bikes, gathered them in one house and set them on fire. So, our hearts are still throbbing.”
The Post caught-up with Bali women who were pulling corpses already at a state of decomposition from the bushes.
“Please, Mr. Journalist, give us the right of way. We can receive questions now.” Asked the name of the dead man two of them had just pulled out of a maize farm, they released his name as “Gerald Nubila.”
Another deceased’s name was gotten as Promise AwahAyam, from Menka Village.
In the meantime, as at Sunday, relative calm had returned to Pinyin and few soldiers were on patrol in the village.
The administrators of Santa Subdivision and Mezam Division who visited the scene are still to issue an official statement.
Pinyin clan, with a population of 70,000 people is the largest clan in Santa Subdivision. It has three villages, Menka, Buchi and Pinyin itself.