Yaoundé(National Times)-For the first time in close to a year, rare images of Ambazonia leaders have been smuggled out of the courtroom and circulated online which has given family members, sympathisers and the Anglophones optimism that their loved ones are still alive and in good shape.
For the past two court sessions attended by these leaders, only a single photo of Tassang Wilfried, Barrister Eyambe Elias and Dr Cornelius Kwanga emerged in the public space. However, with last Thursday’s court session wherein cameras and phones were banned, videos and photos of all the leaders were carefully taking against the vigilance of the soldiers stationed at the court as well as the President of the Yaoundé Military Court.
Even though blurred, one could easily see all the 10 leaders with some of the photos clearly showing persons like Barristers Eyambe and Shufai as well as Dr Nfor Ngalla Nfor. However, the most interesting of the photos was one depicting clearly the leader of the Ambazonia movement, Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe, who stood behind a female Advocate focusing on the camera in all smiles as the photo was taken.
In his traditional attire depicting him as a real “Sisiku” from the Bayangi land, Ayuk Tabe carefully stood in a prepared mood for the photo, which clearly showed his face and part of his body. According to one of the Lawyers at the courtroom, the Ambazonia leaders are in good shape.
These rare photos of the leaders have received thunderous acclamation online which is now the fastest and surest medium of communication for propagators of the Ambazonia movement. One respondent described Sisiku as “the Mandela of my time,” while another said “so happy to see you father.”
The long absence of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and co from public scene has transformed them from mere leaders to mythical figures, whose image speaks much to their admirers. They are now likened to anti-apartheid leader, Nelson Mandela, who was jailed between 1964 and 1990. Within this time, Mandela’s photos and portraits became illegal in South Africa and it took 22 years (1986) before South Africans could get another rare photo of the man they call their hero following a publication by the then Apartheid regime.
Even though not statutory, a display of the photo of any of the Ambazonia leaders especially Sisiku Ayuk Tabe may occasion undesirable consequences from the military and the Government.
However, only the private press has nursed the courage of displaying his image. And for close to a year now, only archival photos of the man and his nine cohorts have been displayed by the press until Thursday, December 6, when an updated photo and video of him and the others were smuggled out of the courtroom and released.
For now, Government has maintained a cautious silence as well as the State media. In the past, there has been calls for the Government to produce them death or alive or present them before the media.
In most cases, both Communication Minister, Issa Tchiroma and Territorial Administration boss, Paul Atanga Nji have argued that there leaders are in good shape with doctors attending to them regularly.
In one episode, a Minister was quoted as saying that these 10 men have even gained weight because of the care offered them by the Government.
However, they were never presented to the public or press. It is still not known whether investigations would be opened to track down those responsible for circulating the images of these men who are famously called the “Nera 10” after the name of the hotel in Abuja, Nigeria where they were arrested.