By Boris Esono Nwenfor
One hundred and forty-eight persons including two females arrested in relation to the ongoing Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Region have been set free. The release took place October 4, 2019, in Buea during a court session at the Military Tribunal.
The release follows a decree signed by Cameroon’s President Paul Biya to discontinue the case of 333 inmates arrested for their alleged roles in relation to the Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Regions. “I have ordered the discontinuance of proceedings pending before Military Tribunals against 333 persons arrested for misdemeanors, in connection with the crisis in the North West and South West Regions,” said Biya on Twitter.
“I am thanking the President for such a gesture to us. I am going home to invite my friends to come out from the bushes. I know that if they come out nothing will happen to them,” one of the released people told this reporter.
“I am very happy today that my son has been released after more than a year in prison” said Joana Nwanjo while calling on the released children to hold on to God as he is the one creating all the miracles today.
To the President of the Buea Military Tribunal Colonel Mem Michael, “They (released inmates) have learn a lot and hopefully they will join to build a better nation.” On his part, Frederic Poh Boule, EMIA Commissioner of Government told reporters that the release of the prisoners is a measure to solve the Anglophone crisis and we appreciate the measure taken by the Head of State.
The Secretary General of the South West Governor’s Office Dr. Mohammadou has cautioned the released inmates not to go back to the activities they were doing prior to them being arrested. He said, “Let them go now to their respective communities to preach the message of peace and tolerance, the message of living together.”
The separatists have however called for the release of what they say is 5000 people imprisoned since 2016, including 10 leaders who were sentenced in August to life in prison on terrorism charges, and the withdrawal of Cameroon’s military from the North-west and South-west regions. “We will not accept an olive branch from someone whose troops are still in our territory,” said Ivo Tapang, a spokesman for 13 armed groups called the Contender Forces of Ambazonia. “We will intensify our struggle with guns and bullets.”
Speaking to Barrister Ishi Daniel, he said when someone is arrested and is at the process of investigation security forces ask for their ID Cards and never return it. There is no law which says that the ID card of the suspect or accused person should be retain and made part of the case file. At the time they use the ID cards; they fill statements and even add information that is against the spirit of the law,” Barrister Ishi Daniel said.
The insurgency emerged after a government crackdown on peaceful protests late in 2016 in the Northwest and Southwest regions by lawyers and teachers who complained of being marginalized by the French-speaking majority.