Despite the silence of Cameroonian authorities over the persistent complaints against police extortion, youths have resolved to maintain their stance.
The past weeks have seen many youths voice out several unpleasant experiences with the security forces, with some having to pay exorbitant amounts to secure their release despite being arrested illegally.
Below is the testimony of a youth residing in Bamenda, capital of the North West, one of the country’s two minority English-speaking regions:
“I left Bambili one morning and was heading to town (Bamenda) to see my supervisor. The policemen at the control point below Guinness at mile 3 Nkwen stopped our vehicle demanding facemasks which we all provided but they took our ID cards”.
“I was amazed when I saw other pedestrians pass by without face mask and they were not stopped and even other taxis with passengers without face mask but weren’t stopped”.
“Firstly I realized we were all well dressed and looking good, making the officers thought we were scammers as they always claim”.
“One took my phone and saw the BLOCKCHAIN APP and told me bitcoin is illegal in Cameroon and I’m a scammer because I was doing bitcoin transactions. We were there for over an hour as I was told to pay 100,000CFA (close to 200 US Dollars) but the taxi driver helped to talk with the officer and I finally paid 5,000FCFA (about 10US Dollars) before he could give me my phone and let us go”.
“That very control point and one other at Foncha Junction have a history of harassing youths and labeling them as scammers to extort money taking advantage of the crisis. Another spot for this act is at commercial avenue”.
“It is so sad how we can’t dress up properly without being harassed by police officers”.