By Tata Mbunwe
The ‘Interim Government of Ambazonia’ has issued a release condemning the recent attack on Queen of the Rosary College (QRC) Okoyong-Mamfe by alleged separatist fighters, stating that the targeting of schools is shameful and distasteful.
In a release published on Friday, Interim Government’s Vice President, Dabney Yerima, said they will disarm “rogue gangs operating with impunity in Ambazonia”.
“Any attack on a school in Southern Cameroons is shameful, distasteful, outrageous, and unacceptable and the perpetrators of these sorts of crimes do not represent our cause and people,” the release read.
Armed men, suspected to be separatist fighters, attacked the all-girls dormitory school on February 10, set fire on dormitories and administrative blocks.
Also condemning the attack, pro-separatist news website, Cameroon Concord, said the gang attacked the school to stop its plans of participating in the 11 February Youth Day celebrations.
“The Interim Government of Ambazonia condemns this cowardly act firmly and warns that it will take steps to disarm rogue gangs operating with impunity in Ambazonia. Our legitimate fight is against the invading army of La Republique du Cameroun, not against our student population,” the IG’s release reads.
“I take this opportunity to reiterate the position of your Interim Government that school campuses are no go areas for any Southern Cameroons group, be they Amba fighters.”
The Catholic-owned Queen of the Rosary College is the oldest gilrs secondary school in Cameroon created in 1956.
Often referred to as the cradle of girl child education in Cameroon, QRC Okoyong celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2016.
The school has graduated some of Cameroon’s outstanding women among them Secondary Education Minister Nalova Lyinga; Prof Rose Gana Fomban Leke, Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Medical Research Institute; Prof Theresa Tchombe Shalo, UNESCO Chair for Special Needs Education at the University of Buea; award-winning music star Daphne Njie, among others.
The attack in the school came just two days after armed men also burnt down a classroom at a Government Primary School in Buea.
Separatists in the Northwest and Southwest regions had in the past enforced school boycotts by killing, beating and kidnapping students and teachers.
Several schools have also been burnt and destroyed by separatist fighters who have enforced the boycott agenda.
Despite separatist leaders relaxing the anti-school stance in late 2020, schools remain closed in most surbubs of the two regions and those that go on even in towns like Buea and Bamenda still do so with caution.
The recent statement by the Ambazonia Interim Government is one of the boldest statements the separatists have made to condemn attacks on schools in the two regions.
The anti-school agenda alongside several atrocities committed by armed groups against civilians has placed separatist fighters at odds with the civilian population in most of the areas where they operate.
According to the Ambazonia IG, separatist fighters must pursue their goal “with unity and purpose” and with “wisdom and self-restraint”.