Cameroon: Gov’t Forces Kill Teenager, Arrest Lawyer Investigating the Murder in Attempts to Cover-Up
It was a tense atmosphere at the Limbe Gendarmerie station Wednesday August 19 as over 80 lawyers mounted pressure on the Company Commander, demanding the release of their colleague, Ayukotang Ndep Nkongho.
Barrister Ayukotang, one of the most tenacious lawyers representing the jailed pro-independence leader Sisiku AyukTabe and Co. was arrested Tuesday while investigating the killing of a 17-year-old girl.
The representative of the Cameroon Bar Association and President of the Fako Lawyers’ Association, Barrister Enow Benjamin told the Timescape Magazine that his colleague was arrested Tuesday on the instructions of the Gendarmerie Company Commander, Michel Heffat.
He alleged that the Gendarmerie Commander was apparently uncomfortable with Barrister Ayukotang’s attempts to investigate the killing of a17-year-old girl, and the wounding of two others, allegedly by the military.
“He left Yaounde to investigate the killing of one Bessem Blandine who was shot by the Military in Tiko,” Barrister Enow said.
“The 17-year-old girl and two other boys were out in the evening hunting for snails when the military shot at them. Bessem Blandine died on the spot, while the other two boys were injured,” he explained.
The two boys were then rushed to the Limbe Hospital. When Barrister Ayukotang learned about this, he rushed to Limbe to have a chat with the injured boys to better understand what had happened.
“It appears he took a picture of one of the boys on his hospital bed as evidence that he (the boy) was suffering from bullet wounds. That was when a gendarmerie officer rushed him and warned that he had no right to take photographs of somebody lying on his hospital bed.”
“The officer then ordered the lawyer to delete the picture, and proceeded to arrest him,” Enow said.
Contacted for comment, Military Spokesperson, Col. Cyrille Serge Atongfack simply said “no!” meaning he had no comment to make.
Barrister Ayukotang is a lead defense attorney for Southern Cameroons pro-independence Leader, Sisiku AyukTabe and nine others who are serving life sentences in Yaounde on charges of terrorism, destruction of public property as well as undermining state institutions.
Pro-Independence Leaders Weigh in
One of the factions of the Interim Government of Ambazonia –the name pro-independence Southern Cameroonians give to former UN Trust Territory has condemned the arrest of the lawyer in a statement and called on the Cameroun government to immediately release him.
“As a government, the safety and security of our people and their legal representatives is our foremost concern. The Interim Government of Ambazonia through its legal representatives in Ambazonia and French Cameroun has made a formal request to the regime in Yaounde to release Barrister Ayukotang Ndep Nkongho without delay. We must bring pressure to bear on the French Cameroun regime regarding this unacceptable harassment of members of the legal profession,” it said in the statement signed by Mr. Dabney Yerima.
The statement described the Cameroun government as a “brutal “enemy that places no value on human life. In some portions it read: “The regime in Yaounde has no respect for human rights, the rule of law, and international law. The Interim Government of Ambazonia has today notified all international media organizations and our international partners about this unlawful arrest and detention of a member of the legal profession.”
The killing of the 17-year-old underlines the deadliness of the brutal war for the restoration of the independence of the former Southern Cameroons. The fighting, now in its fourth year has killed at least 3,000 people, going by official accounts, although several other groups estimate more than 12,000 people have been killed.