The whereabouts of over two hundred former separatist fighters, undergoing a process of rebirth at Cameroon’s National Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (NCDDR) center in Bamenda in the North West Region of Cameroon still remains a subject of controversy in Cameroon.
Escape or Execution?
Following the publication by the Voice of America (VOA) on Wednesday 19th August 2020, that over 130 former fighters had escaped from the center due to poor treatment, the director of the NCDDR in Bamenda says what is going on in the media has no iota of truth.
The Director of NCDDR in Bamenda Reacts
In a telephone interview with Mimi Mefo Info on Monday, August 24th, 2020, the director of NCDDR in Bamenda was asked about the information that recalcitrant former ex-fighters who escaped the center, have been killed by the military in Bamenda as reported by Baretanews site. Mr. Gabsa Sixtus in response says “…Fake news. Everything is fake news”.
Quizzed on whether some fighters escaped from the center as reported recently, the director out-rightly denied without further explanations saying: “…all those things you see and read in the newspapers are fake news and lies. That is what I can tell you now. Get more from my office.”
Mimi Mefo Info further wanted the director of NCDDR in Bamenda to explain what he considered to the truth as relates to this developing story but Gabsa Sixtus sounding nervous and irritated stated: “…I say everything is fake. Nothing as such happened. Please, I am busy.”
By saying this, the director of NCDDR Bamenda hung up the phone without responding to questions on how ex-combatants were being treated in Bamenda.
Allegations of Threats on Ex-Fighters
There have also been allegations that the ex-fighters were subjected to poor feeding and medical health care at the NCDDR Centre in Bamenda. According to the highlighted news article by Voice of American (VOA), military officials in the North West Region of Cameroon earlier threatened to kill any ex-fighter who attempted returning to the bush to fight against the government after surrendering to the state.
According to the VOA news story, General Valere Nka who is Commander of the Cameroon troops fighting separatists, he did threaten to kill any ex-rebels who decide to pick up weapons against the state of Cameroon. He is also quoted saying the ex-fighters will be pardoned if they return to the disarmament, demobilization and re-integration centers”.
The army general is said to have explained that the heavy military presence around the NCDDR center in Bamenda is to protect the former fighters from any possible attacks from their former colleagues who are still fighting in the bushes.
Source of News Story
According to a news article published by Baretanews, a pro-secessionist news site championing the independence of Southern Cameroons, the government is claiming that former Amba fighters escaped from NCDDR.
Baretanews says “… SCAAF (Southern Cameroons Activist Front) intelligence shows otherwise. It indicates a cover-up of over 200 ex-fighters murdered. NDDRC is guarded 24/7 by elements of the rapid intervention battalion (BIR). It is myopic to even believe that they actually escaped”.
While warning other separatist fighters in the bushes not to be deceived by the sugar-coated messages from government officials for them to voluntarily lay down their arms and join the rehabilitation center, Baretanews insists that its source in NCDDR center in Bamenda confirmed information about the murder of over 130 ex-fighters.
This information cannot be independently confirmed by Mimi Mefo Info at the time of publication of this report.
What is Cameroon’s National Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization, and Re-integration (NCDDR)?
Created in December 2018 by President Paul Biya, the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilization and Re-integration (NCDDR) has as its responsibility to disarm fighters in the Far North, North West, and South West Regions of Cameroon, train them with basic skills, empower them financially and finally re-integrate them into the society.
A task some observers say has not been attained given the increase in the number of armed men fighting the regular army in the three regions.
Fai Yengo Francis, the National Coordinator of Cameroon’s National Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization and Re-integration (NCDDR) in an interview he granted to the state-owned media, CRTV, indicated that enough material and financial resources have been made available for the NCDDR centers in Mora, Bamenda, and Buea.
By saying this, the former governor, therefore, dismissed claims of poor treatment of the former fighters at the center.
©Mimi Mefo Info.