National Times (Yaounde) – Yaounde’s decision to slam top Anglophone secessionist leaders with life imprisonment and billions of fines got hundred of people talking on twitter, reacting to the implications of the decision on the volatile security conditions in the region and secessionist agitation.
A military court in Yaounde found 10 Anglophones who were arrested in Nigeria in 2017 guilt of terrorism charges and attempts to destabilize the state, and re-affirmed the government’s commitment to bring to justice secessionists who the government accused have contributed to the loss of thousands of lives and billions of wealth.
Soon enough, Twitter was ablaze with comments about the decision. But, as ever, the public was quickly picking up on the minutiae, including the court’s “ungodly hour of the decision” and implications of the decision on the future of the conflict.
Majority of the comments reveal deep frustration that the decision will hamper efforts to end the conflict. “The sentence of Ambazonia interim leader by the @PR_Paul_BIYA regime is an indication to show the international community @UN @BBCAfrica @SkyNews that the @PR_Paul_BIYA has no intention in anyway to dialogue or resolve the #Anglophone crisis. It’s time for @UN @USUN to act,” Julius Dinka commented.
US Assistant Secretary for Africa, Herman Cohen, has castigated the decision, arguing “Instead of jailing secessionist leaders for life, the #Cameroon government should be negotiating a peaceful solution with them, leading to self-determination for the English-speaking region within a greater democratic Cameroonian federation”.
Instead of jailing secessionist leaders for life, the #Cameroon government should be negotiating a peaceful solution with them, leading to self-determination for the English-speaking region within a greater democratic Cameroonian federation.
— Herman J. Cohen (@CohenOnAfrica) August 20, 2019
Another user said “More evidence of #Cameroon’s lack of sound institutions & regional enabling of Biya’s government through Nigeria’s questionable deportation of the #Nera10. Ruling will only intensify separatist movement. Wuside reconciliation dey?”
But the decision has also raised questions over the state of Cameroon’s legal system. Prominent Human Rights Lawyer and Anglophone rights campaigner Agbor Nkongho believes that “The sentencing of Sisiku and Co to life imprisonment is an affront to due process and the rule of law. The right to fair trial is a fundamental human right. The Sham process is a reflection of the Sham management of the Country”.
Another user Adjani OKPU-EGBE, insist that “The illegal #LIFE #SENTENCE of the #Nera10 today by Biya’s regime is their last card in #VIOLATING CameroUn Law, Nigerian Law/Abuja Ruling, Int’l Human Rights Law & disregard of #ADVICE frm their main partner @StateDept , thereby concretising #BadFate in resolving the #CONFLICT”.
@UNHumanRights @hrw @amnesty Its almost 6am, 20/08/19 and @JNera10 are still in kangaroo court of @PR_Paul_BIYA since yesterday afternoon. @sisiku_ayuktabe and Co must be free. Stop the charade of a trail. @JNera10 we demand justice for #Nera10. pic.twitter.com/H8Sf3s5p6x
— Itambi Jess (@ItambiJ) August 20, 2019
Given Biya’s observatory mode of governance, it is likely the case that the decision is a thoughtful one by the government taking into account the government’s recent against separatist in the Northwest and Southwest regions. But the decision may incite resentment that can force government forces to loss all gains already made. What ever happens the Cameroonian government has sent a clear message and Anglophones have responded that the battle is likely to continue both within legal institutions and on the battle field.