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The Gendarmerie Must Collaborate With Population – Major Nyemeck 

Interviewed By Willibroad B. Nformi & Peter Adi Fonte — Outgoing Bui Gendarmerie Company Commander, Major Samuel Nyemeck, has declared that his corps has the obligation to penetrate and associate with the population that it is called upon to serve.

Major Nyemeck, who served in Bui Division, Northwest Region, for five years, was recently appointed Squadron Group Commander in Maroua, Far North Region. In the following exclusive interview with The Post, he sizes up his stay in Bui, maintaining that he is leaving with very positive memories of a place he initially dreaded. Excerpts:

What would be the assessment of your stay here in Bui?

Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to say a word before leaving Bui Division. I think I’ve stayed here for five years and this time that I’m leaving, I’m a happy person. This is because for these five years of my stay here, I encountered no major obstacle. When I first came here, I had a certain impression of the place.

But, after a while, I discovered that the Bui people are very lovely. When you understand them, you can work very well with them. So, I can say proudly that I stayed here and I’m leaving without a major problem. I understood the people and the people finally understood me. That is why I am happy.

Your position as a Gendarmerie officer is, among other things, fighting crime. What is the situation of crime wave in Bui Division?

Like I said earlier, when I first came here, we noticed a high level of crime in the Division. But now, as you can testify, I think it has reduced considerably. However, the first thing is to identify the source of crime – it is this matter of Indian herm. People here cultivate and consume Indian herm too much. And, of course, when they do consume it, they are bound to commit crimes, sometimes without knowing – that is – they are not conscious of what they are doing. Secondly, there was equally this issue of armed robbers.

There were points like Tatum, Sarkong in Wainamah, Oku around the Lake, Noni between Lassin and Mbinon, Lassin and Nkor, and so on. When we identified those places, we put in place measures to discourage such criminal activities. So, as I’m leaving, I’m happy that armed robbery has been brought down to its barest level. Apart from these, you also have cases of rape, mainly in Jakiri. You equally have cattle theft in Mbven and Noni Subdivisions.

This is facilitated by the fact that when cattle are stolen in Noni, they are easily taken to neighbouring Donga-Mantung, Adamawa or to the Noun Division. This makes it difficult for the culprits to be apprehended. And, of course, there also ordinary theft cases and other simple offences that are common place in every society.

As you mentioned earlier, you interacted well with the population. As a para-military officer, you associated with the population and people began doubting whether you are a military man at all. Was this strength or weakness?

You know that, previously, people used to think that the armed forces were there to threaten, intimidate or molest the population. I think, for the Gendarmerie, if you want to work well, you must penetrate the population. That is what I understood and decided to go right to the field, met the people I was called upon to serve and associated with them. When you know everybody, when you have people as friends, it becomes even easier to get information.

Indeed, nothing can escape your notice. Let me give you an example; I used to travel to Yaounde or Douala and when things happen here, I’m the one to first call and inform my collaborators of the incidents, instructing them on what to do. How do you think I got the information? This was as a result of my integration and association with the population.

During your stay, it was not all roses. There were certainly moments when you might have regretted your being transferred to Kumbo. May we know such moments?

No, I think during my stay in Bui, there were many good moments than the bad ones. However, I remember that in 2008, things were not easy here because of the strike that took place. Thank God, with all the population, the administrative, municipal and traditional authorities, we did what we could do without experiencing any bloodshed. I think that was a big moment in Kumbo here.

Another incident was when we had a Baba One boy murdered at Jakiri. A very big crowd came from Baba I in Ngoketunjia Division to vandalise the locality. But I succeeded to convince them and they went back. I can never forget that event. If I was not around that day, I think there would have been a conflagration in Kumbo.

The Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, remains a burning issue in Kumbo. How would you assess the situation now that you are leaving?

When I came here, the issue of the SCNC was a big preoccupation for the authorities, even for the State. In all my reports on the issue, I advised my hierarchy not to always respond brutally when people are manifesting. I tried to penetrate them to let them know that we are all Cameroonians. We can have different views about situations, but we should also know that we have a common ancestral origin.

In fact, I used to go and meet their leader here in Bui, discuss and try to convince him until some people started saying he has been bought over by the Government. No! This was just because, with the former SDO and the current one, we took time to let them understand that the country is for us all. What had happened had happened. That, in a marriage that has lasted more than 50 years, one cannot go and sue for divorce now.

It is not normal. So, I can say that the SCNC problem here remains a preoccupation, but no longer a major one. This is the more so as it is said that the Head of State has programmed to go and celebrate the Reunification in Buea and they say they (SCNC) want to go and meet him. I think that they are beginning to understand that we do not need to destroy our country.

What would you love to be remembered for in Bui Division or, what is your legacy as outgoing Bui Company Commander?

I will like the people of Bui Division to remember me as that Company Commander who came to serve the population and not one who used the population to serve himself.

You came here as a Captain, today you are leaving in a higher position. May we know the positions you’ve had so far?

I came here as Captain and was later promoted Major. Some people thought that, may be, by the time I leave I would have been a Lieutenant-Colonel. But it is not far. By God’s grace, in the next couple of months, I may be raised to that rank. Position-wise, I came here as a Company Commander, now I’m transferred to Maroua, Far North Region, as a Squadron Group Commander, which is like a military unit of the Gendarmerie equivalent of a battalion in the army. So, you can understand that all my stay here in Kumbo has been very positive. I leave here as Major but with different functions.

What special word do you have for the people you are leaving behind?

All what I have achieved is thanks to the collaboration of all the stakeholders of this Division: the administrative authorities, the judiciary, the municipal authorities, the political leaders, the traditional authorities. So, I want to thank everybody, including the population, for the cooperation and collaboration they gave me.     

First published in The Post print edition No. 1365

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