By Boris Esono (Buea-Cameroon)
The Bishop of the Mamfe diocese Bishop Andrew Nkea says the killing of Rev. Fr. Cosmas Oboto Ondari was done by government soldiers (Gendarmerie Nationale) according to eye witness accounts. This was one of the messages enclosed in a letter by the Bishop shortly after the murder.
Rev. Fr. Ondari was killed on the 21st of November 2018 in Kembong, Manyu Division of the South West Region of Cameroon. The Father was reportedly shot in front of the parish after it was reported that fierce clashes had taken place between separatist and security forces.
According to Bishop Nkea “A certain Mr. Johnson Ndip Nchot was also shot in front of his house, a few meters from the Church building. I visited Kembong Parish on Thursday the 22nd of November and I personally counted 21 bullet holes made on the Church building of Kembong where at the time, the priest, the catechist and many Christians were carrying out various activities in the mission compound”.
He added that: “in December 2017, when the situation in Kembong was very tense, Fr. Ondari and his parish priest Fr. Tiberius Vouni, MHM, along with some of their parishioners moved out from Kembong to Mamfe. The village of more than 5,000 people was almost completely and many houses were burnt down”.
“In April, 2018, in a bid to give hope to the desperate population, many of whom were courageously opted to go back to Kembong so as to encourage the people to return…. It was in this context that Fr. Ondari was brutally and recklessly murdered on the 21st of November, 2018”.
The Bishop has called on the powers that be to carry out a thorough investigation into this heinous crime committed against an innocent peace loving missionary and bring the culprits to face justice as he says “it is the only way those who have been hurt can truly be comforted, and peace can return to our land”.
“It is our fervent hope that those killings should stop in our diocese and in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon. The value of human life is diminishing and the human person is wasted away for any flimsy reason or even for sport. This has to stop and we call on all those involved in killing innocent civilians to refrain from these inhumane and monstrous acts”.
Bishop Nkea has called on Christians to intensify prayers and not to relent while also calling on all Christians of the Diocese of Mamfe especially those of Kembong Parish to stay calm and unite in prayers. “The forces of evil are rampage against the church of God but as Christians, we believe in the promise of Christ that the gates of the underworld will never prevail over the Church”
Born in Gucha, in Kenya on the 19th of September 1985, Fr. Ondari joined the missionary society of St. Joseph, otherwise known as the Mill Hill Missionaries and was sent to do his philosophy studies in the Queen of Apostles Seminary in Jinja in Uganda. After his studies of Philosophy, the young Ondari was sent to Cameroon for pastoral experience and he spend two years in Fundong Parish, in the Archdiocese of Bamenda, under the supervision of Fr. Christopher Hannock, MHM…. He was ordained on the 26th of March 2017 in his home Diocese of Kisi by Bishop Joseph Mairura Okemwa.
In April 2017, the Superiors of the Mill Hill Society appointed Fr. Ondari to Mamfe Diocese where he was then posted to the St. Martin of Tours Parish, Kembong as his first appointment and which turned out to be his last appointment as a priest.