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South West, North West Regions: Regional Governors Receive Freed Anglophone Detainees

5 September 2017 No Comment

SouthWest Governor Okalia Bilai, collaborators with Barrister Agbor Balla, Dr. Fontem Niba and other detainees in photo infront of the Governor’s office, Buea

The bus that ferried in the freed men

By Nkong Ndem Peter
September 1, will forever remain ineffaceable and unforgotten in the lives of many families in the South West and North West Regions of Cameroon following the release of 55 Anglophone Cameroonians incarcerated at the Kondengui Maximum Prison for months and awaiting trial on terrorism rated charges in Military Court, Yaounde. The families did not only expressed joy and approbation, they danced and thankedAllah for touching the heart of President Paul Biya to order for the release of their loved ones brought to them through the offices of Regional Governors of the South West and North West in Buea and Bamenda. As Allah ordained it, the detainees were ferried to Buea and Bamenda when Muslims were celebrating the Feast of the Ram as they prayed for lasting peace in Cameroon.
South West Governor H.E. Bernard Okalia Bilai accompanied by close collaborators received the detainees ferried from Yaounde under tight security when they arrived in the esplanade of his office in the presence of family members and a mammoth crowd that trooped in to welcome them.12 detainees including proscribed Consortium President Barrister Nkongho Agbor Balla Felix, Secretary General Dr. Fontem Aforteka’a Niba, Ntimah Andrew Njika a retired teacher, Atia Tilarious Azohnwi of The Sun newspaper and SDF District Chairman for LimbeSama Godden Ndengueet alwere received by Governor Okalia Bilai at about 8.30 am. Security officers took vintage positions as the detainees descended from the bus some swaying and others smiling gingerly.
Welcoming the “august guests” Governor Okalia Bilai told them to be law abiding citizens as they have learnt their lessons from where they are just coming from. He reiterated that Cameroon is a State of law and said government was determined more than ever to defend the institutions of State by ensuring maximum peace and harmony.
He advised them to share the glory of oneness with government so that together they can build a more vibrant nation and appealed to them to encourage children to return to school as resumption bells toll. “We need to build a one and invisible nation”, the South West strongman told the returning detainees, advising them to watch what they say and do. He shook hands with all of them before retiring into the inner Chambers of this cozy office while the freed men left for their homes where some merry making, drinking and eating crowned the day.
In the North West Region, H.E. Governor Adolphe Lele L’Afrique welcomed 38 freed detainees at the esplanade of his Up-Station Office in the presence of his close collaborators, family members and a huge population that came out to see things for themselves. Journalist Tim Finnan of Life Time Newspaper could not hold back his tears when he saw the woman they wedded least than a month and kids before he was whisked off to Yaounde for months.
Many others who did not see their relatives also wept desperately as they were told their matter comes up on September 28, 2017 and they should put them in prayer for possible release.
Governor LeleL’Afrique welcomed them by shaking hands and advised the freed activists that peace is non-negotiable in any situation. “We must help ourselves by working peacefully for our country”, he told them.
Some of them recounted their sad tales in detention and vowed never to get involved in anything that will provoke the wrath of government into arrested them. Others simply said if the must be arrested they will die for the truth, the truth they said is the ability to tell the government what it does not want to hear. Another detainee told The Star that he will never forget this day because he thought it was all over for him, frightened that he could be shot if found guilty by a Military Court.
United Nations applauds Cameroon, calls for dialogue
Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary General AntónioGuterres has applauded Cameroon’s decision to drop terror-related charges against English-speaking leaders amid tensions in the French-majority African country.
Guterres’ spokesman, StéphaneDujarric, said the U.N. Chief Scribe was pleased to hear of the release of the leaders, who were arrested in late 2016 on accusations they incited violence during protests in Cameroon’s English-speaking North West and South West Regions and maintained that dialogue is a better way forward.
Cameroon’s charges also included complicity in hostility against the homeland, secession and campaigning for federalism. The men were arrested after the leaders called for protests and a strike to promote the rights of Cameroon’s Anglophones.
The international community criticized the Cameroonian government response to the protests as harsh. Security forces arrested dozens of protesters and the North West and South West regions were cut off from internet access for months.
“The Secretary General hopes that this positive step will lead to a further lowering of tensions and strengthened political dialogue,” Dujarricsaid in a statement. “The Secretary General encourages the Cameroonian authorities to pursue their efforts to address the grievances of the Anglophone community and promote measures of national reconciliation in order to find a durable solution to the crisis.”
The charges against the leaders represent a divide between Cameroon’s English-speaking and French-speaking communities — tensions dating back to post-colonial settlement. Cameroon was colonized by Germany and then separated into British and French regions after World War One.
Cameroon this week banned people from watching the popular SCBC English-speaking channel, which is broadcast from South Africa, alleging it represents and interest for the country’s English-speaking population. Cameroon’s Ministry of Communication accused the channel of broadcasting seditious and hateful propaganda.
                                                                                                                                                                      United Nations portion, Courtesy: CNN

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