Kumba (National Times)-Cameroon’s Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute left Kumba, South West Region Thursday May 16th in the last lap of his two weeks tour of the restive English speaking Regions in high spirits after some 22 youngsters were presented as exe-separatists’ fighters who have disarmed.
News of the development has since generated controversy across Cameroon. The state media has made the development headline news while critics expressed doubts over the development.
The national Times for purpose of clarity herein chronicles The circumstances surrounding Thursday’s announcement.
At The National Times, we understand that, the development dates back to March 24th this year when militants of the Cameroon Peoples’ Democratic Movement (CPDM) party celebrated the party’s anniversary.
On that day, a group of boys in shabby attires stepped into the hall at the Kumba City Council while celebrations were going on. Minutes after, speeches from party bigwigs were directed towards urging separatists fighters to drop arms. Speakers kept insisting that even if some were in the hall, they had the freewill to yield to president Biya’s message.
At the end of that occasion, some of the boys were spotted collecting banknotes from party officials. When The National Times questioned their identity, some local party officials denied the boys had no links to separatists.
Then on May 1st , the Senior Divisional Officer (SDO) for Meme, Chamberlin Ntou’ou Ndong told reporters shortly after celebrations marking the Labour Day that, some separatists’ fighters had disarmed. Then, he said the separatists’ came from Mbonge Sub Division stating they were tired of the crisis and needed help. He then urged others to emulate the move.
The same administrator will reecho the same message on Tuesday May 7th shortly after launching the distribution of government’s humanitarian aid to victims of the Anglophone crisis. Ntou’ou Ndong told reporters that, some separatists’ had yielded to president Biya’s call for disarmament. Then, he said the ex-fighters were doing fine and will be presented to the public when the Prime Minister comes visiting.
Thursday May 8th, the issue of separatists fighters who had disarmed came under discussions again. This was during a preparatory meeting of Meme CPDM elite to prepare for the Prime Minister’s visit to Kumba.
In an interview after that meeting, the CPDM permanent Divisional Coordinator for Meme Benjamin Mutanga Itoe averred that, they were in touch with some separatists. He inferred that some were at the celebrations of the Party’s anniversary in kumba last March. Quizzed on what had become of them since then, the former minister said, the ‘amba figthers’ were doing fine. He said, they were in touch with the fighters.
At the end of the meeting of political elite, a peace, reconciliation and mobilisation committee was put in place. It had as mission to convince separatists’ fighters to drop their arms and return to normal lives. Chief justice Edward Mokwe headed that commission.
All these moves on the ground established a feeling within the public space that something was cooking both at the political and administrative levels. The momentum intensified as the Prime Minister’s visit was announced.
Euphoria Greets Announcement
At the end of the Prime Minister’s visit, someone took the microphone to announce that, there were ex-separatists fighters around. The message from the announcer sent everyone at the occasion ground quiet.
Within minutes, the guys whose sitting position was already known all through the occasion walked forward. At least seven stepped out. Then afterwards, more were spotted marching forward. There was general celebration among the elite, administrators and state personnel at the grandstand.
The Prime Minister then greeted and encouraged the supposed former separatists. Cabinet ministers of South West expression followed in the same order. Retired General Tataw, traditional rulers, municipal authorities greeted the boys.
In the face of the frenzy, business man Bony Dashaco took the microphone announcing an offer of FCFA 1 million to the ex-separatists fighters. While this went on, South West Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai, the National Coordinator of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Committee (NDDR) retired Governor Francis Fai Yengo and Prime Minister Dion Ngute were spotted in a close chat.
The National Times thought these personalities were discussing on how to get this supposed ex-separatists’ footmen into the NDDR Regional center in Buea.
Shortly aft wards, the convoy left the ceremonial ground to the SDO’s office. From here, the PM’s convoy left for Buea. These group of boys were found standing on the road within the administrative neighbourhood.
They all later flooded the cabin of a government owned Pick Up that was transporting people for the same event. The white Pick Up drove with the boys into town. The National Times could not authenticate accounts that, these boys went back to their neighburhoods.
The only information made public in relation to the supposed separatists’ fighters was to the effect that, a self-styled separatists general was among them. No other information was revealed. The guns they are said to have dropped were never presented to the population. No one knows the camps they came from and lots more.
A group of men in military attire were overheard lamenting that, none of their colleagues in different corps had confirmed receiving any weapon from the supposed separatists’ fighters.
For one thing, those of them spotted at the CPDM meeting of March 24 were among the 22 who appeared before the Prime Minister on May 16th.At the moment, public opinion remains divided over the reality of what happened on May 16th while the head of government came preaching peace and dialogue. Yet politicians argue that, the boys came outside on their own accord after listening to the Prime Minister.