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Youths Besiege SDO’s Office 

By Chris Mbunwe

Hundreds of people of Esu village in Menchum Division of the Northwest Region recently besieged the office of the Senior Divisional Office, SDO of Menchum, protesting the arrest and detention of four youth leaders.

The four youth leaders were arrested and detained on the instructions of the Senior State Counsel for Menchum, Bunett Beckono Ebe.

The youth leaders were arrested and detained following a complaint from the Manager of Elba Ranch, owned by business magnate, Baba Danpullo. The youths were accused of destruction, violation of Court Order, disturbance of quite enjoyment and threat to life.

The detained youths include, Philip Kwe, Dyfred Abue Ndzo, William Meh and Oumarou Bouba.
The youth leaders were summoned by the police at the Wum Public Security Post and immediately thrown into cell.

When news of their arrest and detention got to Esu, irate youths started demonstrating from Esu via Weh to Wum Town.

While in Wum, the angry youths took the SDO, Benoit Williams Emvotou Bita hostage for several hours and ensured that every activity in his administrative chambers was paralysed.

The population is resolute not to surrender over 10,000 hectares of land in Esu to Baba Danpullo. The said hectares of land were given to the business magnate by the late Fon of Esu, HRH Meh Buh, as temporal grazing land, but, unfortunately, after settling and using the land for some years, and following the demise of the Fon, Baba Danpullo, through his Elba Ranch, is threatening to plant pillars right down to where the villagers are farming for their living.

It was due to the encroachment of the communal farming land that the four village youth leaders appealed to the Elba Ranchers to retreat and respect their grazing limits that they were arrested and locked up.
On their part, the officials of Elba Ranch said they have invested heavily and cannot retreat without a huge compensation.

Contacted by phone, some Esu elite, who appealed not to be named, argued that all lands are owned by the Government, but that if Baba Danpullo should take legal action on the youth leaders, there is nothing the Esu people can do.

“We were even told that he pays FCFA 1 million annually to the Council as taxes, as such, we must be extremely careful the way this struggle is handled.”

Sensing danger that the demonstration might go violent, the SDO for Menchum, Benoit Emvotou, after holding a crisis meeting with the stakeholders, came out of his office and told the protesters that he is very disappointed that they decided to disrespect constituted authority, beginning from their Fon and went ahead with the illegal demonstration.

He warned the demonstrating youths to stop gathering at the Fon’s Palace and that they should desist from demonstrating against Elba Ranch or its proprietor. The Menchum SDO later ordered for the release of the detained Esu youth leaders.

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