The story of three girls declared missing in Bamenda in the North West region, MMI has uncovered, has many twists and turns.
Findings conducted by our team show that, the three girls were on a venture to seek greener pasture in Yaounde. But how they ended up in the keeping of a pastor and what has happened afterwards, has raised more questions than answers.
In the meantime, guardians of two of three girls have been arrested. Their arrests are said to have been triggered by the pastor who had been keeping them in Yaounde.
While one of the three families has confirmed that one of the girls has been returned, the underlying story behind their journey and handing over leaves much to be desired.
Someone close to the family says the pastor permitted the release of just one of the girls. Ironically, three others remain behind bars viz; two of the girls and the guardian to one of them.
The guardian is said to have proposed bail, but was charged the sum of 300,000FCFA.
For three days, the pastor lady is said to have stalled attempts to see the girls, as every time anyone showed up she kept bringing up different excuses. This led to the family feeling she had denied to release the kids to their families. This caused the media to be involved.
The pastor is said to have caused the arrest of the relative therefore, for reportedly taking the matter to the media.
Fight for a better life
The one released,Tracy, we gathered, was handed over to her uncle who came for her. Tracy revealed that their trip to Yaounde was in a quest for a better life.
She said a friend of theirs had told them some time ago she was involved in a comfortable business and would have loved them to join her.
On trying to find the friend, they found themselves in Yaounde without her contact.
Stranded, and confused having left home without the knowledge of their parents, Tracy disclosed that, they had nothing to do and were left at the mercy of unknown persons before the pastor came through for them.
Role of the pastor
Speaking to MMI shortly after it was revealed the teenage girls were in the care of the Pastor, her close aides said the gospel minister never intended any harm. One of them noted that the pastor had met the girls stranded at a travel agency and decided to take them in.
The girls are said to have revealed that they travelled to the nation’s capital to meet a certain Nancy whose contact they didn’t even have.
It remains uncertain how three under aged girls could be permitted to travel from Bamenda to Yaounde, and were not for once quizzed by anyone at the travel agency or even officers at the multiple security checkpoints along the road.
Even how they bought travel tickets without identification papers, remains a mystery.
Author of trending video behind bars
Pressured by the Pastor, the girls are said to have finally given the contacts of their family members who were contacted.
Instead of taking the kids to social services or the forces of law and order first, the Pastor rather took them to her church where a video of the girls emerged.
The lady who shot the video in a bid to let the world know what was going on, has surprisingly been placed behind bars by the pastor, for reasons best known to her.
MMI also got several threats and appeals to pull down the video, with some citing that it could harm the reputation of their beloved pastor. The threats and detaining of the lady who shot the video in her church, some are now saying, remain strong indicators of the possibility of something not clear.
More kids to go?
While the current case is nearing its end, there are fears many more may erupt in the days ahead. This is following the disappearance of more kids reported in the town of Bamenda. With the armed conflict ongoing, it is feared a trafficking network may be out hunting for them.
The pretext of giving these children a better life away from the armed conflict is usually the story.
Again, three more kids were reported missing and only one recovered. The one found is said to have narrated that they were taken by a man who said he was going to help them make money through a money multiplication scheme.
Thousands of kids have died and many others have been rendered orphans and homeless owing to the armed conflict. This is compounded by the separatist fighters’ drive to disrupt school at all costs, leaving many kids at home.
MMI, the voice of the voiceless
The MMI news platform was the first to shed light on the alleged abduction of the three girls declared missing in Bamenda. Like in many other cases, the platform stood up to the bullying, threats and intimidations from many who did not want the story told.
For many years now, MMI has been the voice of the voiceless, speaking up for those in challenging situations with little or no representation in influential spheres.
It remains a go-to point, a platform of reference and a shelter for many seeking social and political justice in Cameroon.