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Who Wants Inoni Dead? 

By Barnabas Fang MbondeEphraim Inoni

Life is difficult. It is unfair and sometimes too tough, and just sad.
It is bad enough when you find yourself in prison for a crime you don’t seem to grasp, and it is more shattering when the mongers of rumours peddle stories that you are dead; or that you have suffered a stroke and now behave like an idiot; your wife has fled abroad and the state that jailed you has dumped you at your home to rot away to your death.

Rumour. Hearsay. Gossip. Scuttlebutt. Canard; that invented sweet interesting story, usually a mixture of truth and untruth circulated by word of mouth, sometimes for malicious intentions, struck Inoni with a “stroke” and “killed” him in Kondengui Prison.
Chief Ephraim Inoni was imprisoned for 20 years for being involved in a phoney aircraft deal that could have cost President Biya his life, and other corruption charges. Inoni thinks all these are trumped-up and politically motivated charges.

It takes great courage to deal with loss, emotional pain and uncertainty. Inoni lost all that he had except his breath. Even with some of his royal equipment hanging on his prison wall, he is less than a Chief. The good life, splendour and other important airs that he exuded as a top dog in government all vanished into thin air soon after he was caged. That is how life sometimes goes.

“I have heard people saying all sorts of things like right now I’m in Limbe – people believe that I’m sick, that I had a stroke and that the government decided to take me back to Limbe, so that I should die there quietly – but that’s not serious! That’s ok. Some few years ago there was a rumour that I was dead,” Inoni said in an interview with Cameroon Journal Online.

Inoni was a civilian in Biya’s army of professional soldiers. He was a foot soldier who must be lost in order to protect the more valuable pieces of Knights, Bishops, King, Queen and Castle.
From the barred windows of Kondengi Prison and its barbed wire fortifications, the former Honourable Prime Minister, pawned in Biya’s political chess game, now catches glimpses of other serfs at work in the prison yard, while soldiers in glittering uniforms patrol the precincts. Or a Bishop entering or leaving a nearby chapel.

According to the interview, Inoni is disappointed and does not seem to understand why he was jailed at all. Says he in the interview, “The whole thing is an embarrassment.”
Inoni’s worries are not yet over. He also suspects some of his tribesmen to be throwing stones at him instead of a life jacket.

“There is a saying in my tradition that only those who share blood relationship can bewitch you. So my wizard can be the people from my place. That’s the way I look at it,” Inoni says in his interview with the Cameroon Journal.

All is not lost. Though if there is light at the end of Inoni’s tunnel, it has yet to reach the crystal balls of Etoudi. He, however, seems to be gaining some value from his emotional turmoils and learning some hard lessons.

“Prison is a school actually. It’s a learning process here,” says Inoni.
Not many people are privileged to hear God’s words all the time. Some people may never, ever hear God’s voice, yet Inoni seems closer to the Holy Spirit than he might ever have been. He has surrendered his life to God.

“When you are in this situation only God can help you. I have left everything in God’s hands,” says Inoni, according to Cameroon Journal.

It is amazing how a rumour can acquire the resemblance of truth. In Chief Inoni’s case, the Cameroon Journal simply sets the crooked records straight.

“Physically he looks very subdued, humbled but very healthy,” says the Cameroon Journal reporter who interviewed Chief Ephraim Inoni, former Secretary General at the Presidency and subsequently Biya’s Prime Minister.

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