The Bamilike Community in Muea, Buea, South West Region of Cameroon is becoming restless due to targeted harassments and attacks from gunmen, claiming to be members of the Ambazonia Defence Force (ADF).
The gunmen, who are now considered as fake Ambazonia Fighters kidnap mainly rich Bamilike folks and repeatedly demand ransom as the Crisis, heighten.
Speaking to The National Times, one of the victims said he has paid ransom to the gunmen more than twice.
They often invade my business premises demanding for hundreds of thousands. At times they carted away cash machines as well as threatening to continuously kidnap my sister and wife. We now live in constant fear of what might happen next. most of my tribesmen have relocated due to the harassments.”
“When the crisis started, we all supported willingly, the boys who use to come by were not hostile towards us, they told us that as far as we were born and bred here, as far as we are not against them, we were safe with them, they were very humble and will not threaten to kidnap us to pay ransom. Now other groups have come up, they monitor us everywhere, a different group will come today and collect money from you and tomorrow, another group will come claiming to be the real ones and will collect money from you again, and they keep on coming, most of the time, I just close my shop. It is terrifying.”
On whether he can recognise some of the people harassing them, he said, some of them are from Muea and that they know where their targets are “they move around with guns and knives, but I am not sure they are not the genuine ‘Amba Boys because Amba leaders have said that their boys don’t harass people or kidnap for ransom, but these ones here are doing all the things that they say ‘Amba Boys don’t do. Their actions show that they are criminals, I hear that in some other places, the real ‘Amba Boys’ arrest such criminal gangs, but here in Muea, no one is touching them. Many Bamilike people who use to live here have left. I personally know many of them. I also know Bamilke communities in neighbouring Muyuka who are not targeted by Amba Boys there. But it is different here. I know two elderly men, who have their houses here; they raised their families here, lived their lives here, but have all left. Imagine an elderly person having to change his place of residence, after decades, the trauma and all the like.
One of my friends was recently kidnapped and released on the same day, after he paid 1.5 million. He has also left; he could not even stop here when they released him. It shows that he was kidnapped for money, I know for a fact that when the real ‘Amba takes someone as a suspect, they question and maybe release later or do whatever they want, these ones come, take somebody, and leave a number for you to contact them for ransom negotiation. We are living in hell, look at me, I am supposed to be in my shop now, but I can’t go there, immediately you open the shop, they would come. They treat us as if we are the enemy.”
Claiming to have read a purported “Constitution of Ambazonia” he said, I have read the Constitution and it says, those of us who were born and bred here are also part of Ambazonia and are not the enemy. They came the only day and cut off a finger of one Bamilike man. They do horrible things to us.”
Pro-independence leader promises hell to perpetrators
On why their men are carrying out targeted attacks and demanding ransom and whether their goals have been flipped to reaping financial gains from those they are claiming to protect, Mark Bareta, one of the leaders of the self-declared restorationist movement of former West Cameroons said, “The story we are seeing and hearing about the Bamilikes is unfortunate. It is not the policy of the revolution; the Bamilkekes are part of us. I think all the groups have once in a while before now condemned and said the Bamilikes are not our target. I for one have said that Bamilkes are not our target; they are like any other tribe within our people like Bakweris, like Ngie, Bayangis, Meta. The fact that they migrated from East of the Mungo, and like many of us who are also products of migration, makes them part of us. They ran away from a war and settled within our people, and they own houses, they contribute to our economy, they have brought up kids there and have intermarried with our people.”
The leaders have said that “if they is anyone going against the revolution, that one should be taken care of, as an individual and not as per their tribe. If there is anyone out there, doing despicable things to our people in the name of the revolution, whether you are from Bayangi, Nso, Nkambe, we treat you the same. It is appalling to hear that our Bamileke brothers are targeted and are moving out.
This is not the policy of the revolution. They are part of us and we don’t have any right to treat them differently. They are born and bred amongst us, they placentas are buried in our land, they are part of us.
Bareta said, “Ransom taking is not endorsed by the revolution. I agree that we have some few restoration forces, who are overzealous and are trying to act otherwise. But like in any other revolution, across the globe, we always have this type of situations and we are very hard on the aspect of ransom taking as well as people going around, hitting doors and asking for money. That is why even in Kumba, last night, (August 25) some fake guys were arrested and taken to the real Amba boys. We have seen it in the newspapers, how some fake guys who were going around terrorising people were arrested in Kumbo. We have also arrested some in Tiko and Victoria. That is why we have created our own police force to deal with the crime wave which is being used by unscrupulous people who want to take advantage of the revolution”.
He alleged that such groups are created and sponsored by some members of the Biya regime (cited a few withheld names), to give them (Ambazonians) a bad name. “We are fighting on both ends, while fighting the fake groups that are trying to take advantage, we also fight the Government of La Republique Du Cameroun, on the other side…We will continue to educate our fighters to refrain from attacking people based on where they come from, and rather carry out their operations, based on what people do. Our Bamilike brothers and sisters should not be fleeing because of such fellows. We will handle that problem,” he said.