Cameroon: Army General Confesses Military Commits Atrocities, Apologizes
In the wake of recent killings, maiming and burning of houses in Yoke, Muyuka some 50 minutes-drive from Buea, capital of the Once Independent State of Southern Cameroons, Army General Eba Eba, Commander of the Second Military Region told locals that some military officers under his command have been acting contrary to what is expected of them. The General owned up that some of his men have been committing atrocities in the battlefield.
He made the confession recently while inquiring from young people in Yoke how their relationship with the military was. He was presented with a catalogue of atrocities meted on the unarmed population in that locality.
“Some of the soldiers, when they come, they treat us as if we are not citizens of Cameroon. They maltreat us in a way that we feel bad each time we see them. Even children now flee when they see the military," a youth lamented.
In response, the Army General said it was possible some “soldiers were disguising as Southern Cameroons armed individuals seeking to restore the independence of the territory with hidden intention to frustrate the corps…Even among us in the military, it is not impossible that you might find the ‘Amba boys’. They may be part of us. Your issues have been understood and will be reported," he said.
General Eba Eba pleaded with the population of Yoke, still reeling from the woes caused by the military in the area, to calm down and trust the military that their worries would be tabled to the highest authority. He told the people that the military acted the way they did because the ‘bad boys’ were among them and they understood the risk involved with denunciation.
Even after tendering an apology to the population, the soldiers did not release myriad innocent citizens they held in trucks while the military-population dialogue was going on. General Eba Eba and his men still took them away to the third Gendarmerie Legion. The Legion Commander, General Elias Ntungwe told newsmen that those arrested would be interrogated to weed out suspected self-defence volunteers fighting under the pro-independence groups.
To go by experience, the hundreds of young men and women carted away to Buea would likely have to pay huge sums of money without any receipts to regain their freedom. Usually, the sums ranged from CFA F 50,000 (about USD90) to CFA F 500,000 (about USD930). Such money is illegal collection seen by locals as ransom and benefits mainly top military officials in the chain of command.
That August 17 visit by the Military General happened one week after the military invaded Yoke and wreaked havoc on the people and left scars everywhere. The population stood far off looking helplessly as the fire was devouring their houses. Lifeless bodies of those who could not escape the onslaught littered the streets of Yoke and everyone was in agony.
Fighting has been going on the Once Independent State of Southern Cameroons between pro-independence forces and the Cameroon army since the last three months of 2017. The conflict turned sour after government forces brutally repressed peaceful movements by Southern Cameroons civil society movements, led by teachers and lawyers demanding greater autonomy for the former UN Trust Territory.
Several international rights organizations and other bodies put the death toll at well over 3000, but locals and a genocide library created for Southern Cameroons, also known as Ambazonia put the figure over 12,000. Hundreds of thousands other Southern Cameroonians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries and over 1,5 million are internally displaced.