By Amos Fofung
Two months after a commission of inquiry was established to investigate one of the bloodiest mass killings in the ongoing Anglophone Crisis, the government of Cameroon has publicly admitted security forces carried out last February’s bloody attack in the locality of Ngarbuh, Donga Mantung division in the North West region which led to the death of at least 32 people including children and a pregnant woman.
The revelation is contained in a report published Tuesday by the commission of inquiry set up by President Paul Biya in late February.
Following the findings from the inquiry commission, President Paul Biya through a statement issued yesterday by the Secretary General at the presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh has ordered the institution of disciplinary proceedings against Major Nyiangono Ze Charles Eric , Commander of the 52nd Motorised Infantry Battalion , BIM and all the servicemen who took part in the Ngarbuh macabre operation.
President Biya also ordered the arrest of Sergeant Baba Guida , Gendarme Sanding Cyrille and private first class Haranga Gilbert as well as some ten members of the vigilante committee involved in the Ngarbuh tragic incident.
The servicemen concerned, the statement said are already at the disposal of the Yaounde military tribunal while the concerned members of the vigilante committee are yet to be arrested.
In his statement, Head of State ordered the exhumation of the corpses of all victims of the massacre “in order to give them a decent burial at the cost of the state and establish the necessary evidence to bring out the truth”.
The release also states Biya has ordered an identification of the rightful claimants of the victims by the administration to enable the state pay appropriate compensation and indemnities.
Ngarbuh massacre as per the report
Recounting how the Ngarbuh massacre which received worldwide condemnation unfolded, the reports place the blame squarely on the feet of a top military officer, who went out of line in combating separatist fighters in Cameroon’s Anglophone region.
As per the report, “the village of Ngarbuh had become a centre where “secessionist terrorists” regrouped and a logistics pole for the supply of arms, ammunition and fuel for secessionist groups located in Bui and part of Ngoketunjia.
“To this end, a reconnaissance mission was authorized on 12 February by Major Nyiangono Ze Charles Eric, Commander of the 52nd Motorized Infantry Battalion in Nkambe. It was led by Sergeant Baba Guida commander of Ntumbaw joint regiment” said the Tuesday report.
It also added that the detachment left the Ntumbaw base on 13 February at 10pm with three servicemen, and two gendarmes.
As they advanced, the detachment Commander, the report added, decided to enlist seventeen members of a local vigilante committee
“At the entrance of the village of Ngarbuh, the group split into two teams to comb Ngarbuh 2 and Ngarbuh 3 neighborhoods” , the same report further discloses that: “Upon entering the Ngarbuh 3 neighborhood, the place of the tragedy, the team led by Sergeant Baba Guida comprising gendarme Sanding Sanding Cyrille ,
Private 1st Class Haranga and ten members of the vigilante committee launched an attack based on information provided by a repented terrorist and a farmer from the area”.
Following exchange of gunfire during which five terrorists were killed and many weapons seized, the detachment, the report said discovered that three women and ten children had died because of its action Panic-stricken, the report revealed that the three servicemen with the help of some members of the vigilante committee tried to conceal the facts by causing fires.
“On his return to Ntumbaw, Sergeant Baba Guida who led the operation, submitted a deliberately biased report to his superiors, a report on which the government initially based its statement” explained the report.
Following the publication of the report on the findings, the US embassy in Cameroon’s political Capital, Yaounde tweeted “U.S. Embassy is pleased to see Cameroon take steps toward transparency for the Feb 14 attack at Ngarbuh, releasing its investigation report today. We welcome the news it plans to hold to account those suspected of carrying out this action and trying to cover it up.”