Tuesday, January 21, 2020
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Letter From Buea To Yaounde 

Dear Ngwa

Why is it that each time people the react to Cameroonian authorities wrong-doing, they would say the people are being influenced by some people? University of Buea, UB, authorities are again trying to shed responsibility for the recent strike action that resulted in hundreds of students arrested, tortured and whisked into detention. There are reports of female students raped.

UB Vice Chancellor, VC, Dr. Nalova Lyonga, has resorted to the same excuse that has been employed over the years and now sounds like a broken record.

Whenever university authorities falter and students react, the authorities would claim that the students are being “manipulated” either by opposition political parties or by movements like the Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, which is fighting against the marginalisation and subjugation of Anglophone Cameroon or the Southern Cameroons.

This is usually done to seek the sympathy of the CPDM Francophone authorities in Yaounde to come to their protection.

In 1995, when the students got restive over what they termed the high handedness of the then VC, Dr. Dorothy Limunga Njeuma, it was alleed that they were being manipulated by an opposition party.

The student leader, Ebenezer Akwanga, and others were suspended, Akwanga was hounded by security forces until in 1997; he was arrested, charged with terrorist activities and sentenced to 27 years in the Kondengui Maximum Security Prison in Yaounde.

In 2005, when the students went on strike against inadequate infrastructure they were accused of being sponsored by the SCNC.

The Vice Chancellor and then Southwest Governor, Ejake Mbonda, claimed that the SCNC had brought guns and hidden around the bushes at the university and were using the students to destabilize the institution and incite armed insurrection.

Due to the allegation a military helicopter was sent by Yaounde authorities with combat ready troops hat combed the university area and the entire Buea municipality, but tracked down no arms. IN the confirmation with the stone-throwing students, the troops shot and killed two students and wounded many others.

The University of Buea Student Union, UBSU executive that led the strike, like Walters Angwere, were blacklisted and witch-hunted by university authorities and local administrators.

In 2006, UBSU organised a strike against the short-changing of the list of successful candidates in the exam for admission into the Medical School, by Yaounde authorities.

Two people were shot by the troops brought into campus and in the neighbouhoods of the university- one of them a student.

The leaders of the strike, Donatus Asu Wanobi, Ashu Kingsley, were hounded until they escaped to Nigeria to avoid being arrested and tried in military tribunals on trumped charges.

During the strike of 2009, the students were again tagged with manipulation by the SCNC. The leaders; Abia David, Nguve Fred, Bara Mark, were arrested, tortured and sentenced by kangaroo courts. Their family homes were often stormed and siblings beaten.

Because of heavy police presence on campus targeting the student leaders, they were forced to abandon their studies and go into hiding.

Some, like Tabogo Eno-Jah, Ayuk Tang, Wabi Frankline, Kenyu Serge Herve, Tata Kwami Mbinglo, Tchaumou Marie Loue, fled neighbouring countries like Nigeria.

Others like Ernest Acha, Eyambe Ebai, Erickson Abumbi, Jotso Lawrence Peligne and Kingsley Sheteh Newuh fled to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Just like others before them, their names entered the black book of the administration and each time they are around, they are picked up and tortured and locked up in prisons without trial, in a bid to extract information on their mission.

In 2013, UBSU organised a strike predicated on the handling of the association’s dues.

Yet the authorities said they were being manipulated by the lecturers’ union. Abia David, UB student leader; Pente Raphael, former student activist of Yaounde I University and of Catholic University of Central Africa, and others, were charged with vandalism.

Pente was hunted right to his native Batibo village. The student union was emasculated and replaced with the Students Representative Council now answerable to the authorities.

This time around, in 2016 the student who spelled out their demands clearly that they wanted FCFA 10.000 penalty for late registration cancelled and the presidential grant of FCFA 50,000 paid to them, are again said to have been manipulated by the SCNC. During the clamp down on the students, the homes of both past and present leaders were stormed and occupants beaten and some (non-students) carried into detention.

Persons found in the streets near such homes and university hostels were also arrested (whether students or not), and ferried into detention. The police and gendarme cells in Buea were full until some were transferred to the SONARA Gendarmerie Brigade in Limbe – some 30km away.

Hundreds of the students were detained in overcrowded sails and under horrible conditions where there were subjected to torture, frequent molestation, sexual abuse. Six of the suspect leaders are still detained awaiting trial and imprisonment.

Meantime, those picked along the streets or in the neighbouhoods, who are not students of UB, are the categories of people the university authorities are now brandishing as having infiltrated the ranks of students and staged the strike. It is feared that such people, as usual, will be tried and jailed.

And the security authorities who arrested them are not helping matters by stating the circumstances under which these persons were arrested so as to clear their names.

It goes without say that when the computers promised university students by President Biya will come and, for one or the other reason, they are not distributed, like happened with presidential grants, and the students go on strike, the authorities would say they are being manipulated.

Government security forces would, again, be drafted to crush the strike. Students will be arrested, tortured and detained, tried and sentenced, on the grounds that they are being manipulated.

This has come at a time when the lawyers and teachers are on strike throughout the English-speaking Regions of Cameroon demanding for certain conditions to be met concerning their profession.

A solidarity strike by the Bamenda population in the Northwest Region was brutally crushed by the armed forces. Four people were reported dead, hundreds wounded and hundreds detained.

Government authorities are also claiming that the lawyers and teachers are being manipulated by Cameroonians in the Diaspora.