Nigeria has promised to assist Cameroon in combating the separatist crisis rocking the central African country’s English speaking region. The pledge, made during a security meeting, has been described by Cameroon authorities as reassuring, following accusations that separatist fighters in Cameroon were being trained in Nigeria, and that weapons they use are brought in through the neighboring country. Brigadier General Emmanuel Adamu Ndagi, leader of the Nigerian delegation to the Cameroon-Nigeria transborder security meeting that ended in Yaounde Saturday, says his country has been seriously affected by the separatist crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon. The closure of parts of the border has led to a sharp decline in food imports, like sorghum, rice and onions, to Nigeria on one hand, while basic commodities exported from Nigeria, like fuel, are hard to get into Cameroon. Ndagi says because of the security, economic and humanitarian threats caused by the separatist war, Nigeria will support Cameroon in bringing peace to its troubled regions. “The current political upheavals in that region will not be allowed to affect our cordial relations,” said Ndagi. “We will continue to support your efforts to bring lasting peace to the region. This will facilitate the return of Cameroonian refugees that have crossed the border into Nigerian territory. We must reduce vulnerabilities along our borders that are being exploited to perpetrate transnational organized crime notably terrorism, proliferation of small arms and light weapons as well as piracy.” When Cameroon declared war on the armed separatists in November 2017,
Brussels — Cameroonian soldiers went on a rampage in the English-speaking North-West region on May 15, 2019, burning over 70 homes in Mankon, Bamenda. Soldiers dragged one man from his house, shooting him dead in the street. In a news release issued on May 16, the defense ministry announced that it had opened an investigation into the burning of homes and destruction of property. The government should hold soldiers involved accountable. “The government’s move to investigate these attacks on civilians and their property is an important step to ensure accountability,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The investigation should be prompt, independent, and impartial, but it should not end there. The government should immediately review other cases of alleged abuses by its security forces and prosecute those responsible.” Human Rights Watch interviewed 15 residents of Mankon, including 10 witnesses, who described how soldiers from the Air Force and the Rapid Intervention Battalion coordinated the attack. Human Rights Watch also reviewed satellite imagery showing over 70 buildings affected by fire and photographs and videos showing extensive destruction of property. Over the past three years, Cameroon’s Anglophone regions have been embroiled in a cycle of violence that has led to 1,800 deaths and uprooted half a million people from their homes. Government forces and armed separatist groups have committed serious human rights abuses against the civilian population. On May 15, following the killing of two Air Force soldiers by suspected armed separatists, security forces killed Nwacha Christopher Neba,
“I believe there is a clear – if possibly short – window of opportunity to arrest the crises that have led to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people, as well as the killings and brutal human rights violations and abuses that have affected the northern and western areas of the country,” she said in a statement.
Cameroonians head to the polls on Sunday in an election widely expected to extend the 36-year rule of President Paul Biya and confirm his place as one of Africa’s last multi-decade leaders.
“There are many problems. There are no roads, no hospitals. We are poor. Biya must go,” said 31-year-old businessman Emmanuel Bassong during an opposition rally in the capital Yaounde on Saturday.
The chaos in Anglophone opposition strongholds may help Cameroon’s 85-year-old President Paul Biya, who is expected to easily win a seventh term to extend his 36 years in office, aided in part by a weak opposition and a resigned population, many of whom view elections as a means to rubber-stamp seven more years of Biya.