Residents of Ndu in the Donga Mantung division of Cameroon’s North West region have been ordered to fell down trees in some parts of the town as government’s strategy to fight terrorists.
The Divisional Officer, Adamu Shuaibu Ibrahim in a January 13, 2022 order listed a number of portions to be cleared, describing them as hideouts for “terrorists”.
“From the date of signature of this order, authorities of the Ndu Field Cameroon Baptist Convention in particular and all other private forest owners in general are hereby ordered to clear the following forests that have been serving as hideouts for terrorists within Ndu town for four years…” a portion of the document read.
Citing some forests, the official ordered that all other forests “serving or likely to serve as hideouts for terrorists” not mentioned should also be “cleared” by their owners.
Owners of the said forests that fail to “clear” them within two weeks, the DO warned, “will be charged for aiding and abetting terrorism”.
The order has since raised controversy, with many describing it as another attempt to clamp down on the civilian population. The decision, they say, was taken without any consideration for the environmental and financial challenges it may pose to the population of Ndu.
Others have questioned why the armed forces don’t attack the separatists in the said forests instead of compelling owners to destroy them.
It should be recalled that in many situations, soldiers have razes down homes and cleared farms but separatist
Ndu remains home to some of the worst atrocities in the ongoing armed conflict in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions. Among them is the Ngarbuh Massacre where government troops gunned down kids and a pregnant woman and set houses ablaze. Till date, the perpetrators are yet to be punished.
Similarly, last year members of the forces of law and order were caught on camera torturing a young man in the most gruesome manner, because his brother was a suspected separatist fighter. The soldiers, authorities said, were later arrested and would be tried.
Close to a year later, none of their identities have been revealed, and no court proceedings have been initiated. There has even been no proof of they were ever arrested.
It is feared the DO’s latest order could escalate the already deplorable situation and aggravate human rights violations on the local population.