January 22, 2023, was another dark day for journalism in Cameroon. The lifeless body of Martinez Zogo, 51 was found along the road to Soa-some 15 km from Cameroon’s Capital, Yaounde.
The body was already in an advanced state of decomposition, but preliminary investigations showed signs that the journalist, who was also the Director-General of urban radio station Amplitude FM, had been tortured, sodomized, and then mutilated.
Zogo went missing on January 17 in what various journalism institutions say was a ‘kidnapping.”
His death has generated national and global condemnation.
The National Union of Journalists of Cameroon said they were dismayed by the “heinous assassination” of their colleague.
The International Press Institute, a Vienna-based press freedom organization, has urged Cameroonian authorities to “promptly investigate the horrific murder of journalist Martinez Zogo and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”
Jean-Michel Nintcheu, a lawmaker from the opposition Social Democratic Front said in a press statement that it was “a crime’ that should never go unpunished.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay has also condemned the killing and called on the government “not to let this crime go unpunished. Journalists play an essential part in nurturing and upholding democratic governance. They deserve every necessary protection.”
And the head of “Reporters Sans Frontiers”, Sub Saharan Africa Desk, Sadibou Marong said there were “many grey areas regarding the circumstances of his brutal abduction.”
“The authorities must launch a rigorous, thorough and independent investigation to establish the full chain of responsibility and the circumstances that led to this sad event,” he said.
Cameroonian novelist Calixthe Beyala said she was “dejected, saddened. I knew he was dead as soon as it was announced he was being kidnapped. One can ask the question: whose turn it is? Each of us can find ourselves in this situation for something that we might have said.”
Zogo’s brutal murder thus casts a long shadow on the freedom of the press in Cameroon and adds to the growing number of attacks on journalists in the country.
In August 2019 for instance, journalist Samuel Wazizi was arrested by security forces in Buea, in the restive former UN Trust Territory of British Southern Cameroons. After ten months without access to his lawyers or family, the authorities finally announced that he had died in detention. An investigation carried out by the military police has never been made public,
According to statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists,17 journalists have either been killed or imprisoned in Cameroon over the last ten years. The largest number of journalists being jailed took place in 2020 when 9 journalists were imprisoned.