Cameroon: Business Tycoon Amougou Belinga, Others Still In Detention Over Death Of Journalist Martinez Zogo
By Synthia Lateu & Boris Esono Nwenfor
Businessman and media owner Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga, journalist Bruno Bidjang, Director-General of Belinga’s media group alongside the chief of his private security, retired army colonel, Thomas Raymond Etoundi Nsoé, who doubles as his father-in-law has joined the list of those arrested and detained for the alleged killing of Amplitude FM journalist Martinez Zogo.
A press release issued by Groupe L’Anecdote said the tycoon is in the premises of the Secretary of State for Defense as part of an investigation. It further called for the public to be calm and to remain attentive to official sources that can provide information about the evolution of the situation.
Reporters Without Borders reported that gendarmes launched their assault at 6:00 am, local time and broke into Belinga’s front door and bedroom after knocking without response. “Before the gendarmes broke down his door, Belinga had time to call his father-in-law, Col. Raymond Etoundi Nsoé, who is in charge of his security and is a former presidential guard commander,” RSF wrote.
“But Nsoé was also one of the three suspects for whom arrest warrants had been issued. He had gone out jogging very early and was arrested when he arrived at Belinga’s villa. The third person arrested at dawn was Bruno Bidjang, the head of Vision 4, the media group owned by Belinga.”
At least 20 people, including the head of the country’s General Directorate for External Intelligence Léopold Maxime Eko Eko and his assistant in charge of operations, have reportedly been arrested in connection to the journalist’s murder.
The Committee to Protect Journalists Africa program coordinator, in New York, Angela Quintal said the move is laudable. “It is a welcoming sign that Cameroonian authorities are conducting an active investigation into the killing of journalist Martinez Zogo, which has included the recent arrest of businessman Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga,” Angela Quintal said
“Authorities must ensure that this investigation is conducted transparently and openly, so all can see that those responsible for Zogo’s murder are fairly held to account.”
The head of the Africa Desk and Investigative Unit at Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said the evolution of the investigation is positive contrary to the initial belief that it was going to be a long process.
“One who was greatly suspected to be involved, Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga, whose name was cited from the beginning of the incident, and was mentioned by those arrested at the DGRE (Cameroon’s General Directorate for External Intelligence) to be a participant or to have ordered the crime against the journalist, the reason why Belinga and part of his entourage have been arrested. Something that will work to revealing of the truth,” he told Canal 2 International.
According to International Press Institute (IPI), there are signs of apparent progress in the investigation. “However, these initial arrests and interrogations of suspects are only a first step on the path to justice. Cameroonian law enforcement must deliver on this initial progress and ensure that all those involved in this crime – including the masterminds, regardless of their position or prominence – are held to account,” IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said.
On January 27, 2023, President Biya, through the Minister of State, Secretary General at the Presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, ordered the National Gendarmerie to, in collaboration with the General Delegation for National Security, investigate the abduction and subsequent brutal killing of journalist Mbani Zogo Arsène Salomon who was popularly known as Martinez Zogo.
President Paul Biya’s decision was coming after pressure had been mounted by media associations, civil society actors, rights defenders, politicians, and the entire national and international community, for thorough investigations into the circumstances surrounding the death of Zogo and to establish responsibilities.