Journalist Wawa Jackson after serving a pretrial detention period of two years and 9 months, finally reunited with his family in Nkambe, Donga Mantung, North West Region of Cameroon on February 19, 2021.
For the first time in close to three years, he was able to feel the warmth of home again.
“I was able to eat my favourite Ba and Njamsu (fufu corn and huckle-berry) at home while having a sip of palm wine as a free man…”
Initially charged for publication of secessionist information and for calling the section president of the ruling party for Donga Mantung “a liar,” during activities culminating to the 2018 national day, Journalist Wawa Jackson Nfor was arrested on May 15, 2018, and kept in a gendarmerie cell in Nkambe for months before being transferred to jail.
After attending over 30 court sessions, it was only on February 19, 2021, that the judgment was passed.
The charges were changed at the last minute to include justification of crime that endangers the security of the state after finding it difficult to prosecute him on the initial charges.
Though Wawa pleaded not guilty, he was found guilty by the judge and sentenced to two years imprisonment with a fine of 78.000frs without which he would have to remain in detention for an additional six months.
Given that Wawa had already served a pre-trial detention period of Two years Nine months, he was released immediately.
freedom is priceless.
According to Wawa Jackson, regaining his freedom has been the best thing that has happened to him.
“Nothing is as precious as freedom. It was a terrible experience to be in for close to 3years with no hope of freedom. I have breathed fresh air again. I pray my experience should not be shared by any other journalist anywhere in the world. I condemn criminalization without justification” he said.
Asked to describe his prison experience, Wawa narrated that the only difference the prison has from the gendarmerie cell is that, one makes calls and receives visitors.
“The prison has no toilets. You have to urinate in a bucket and sleep with it beside you till morning when you can go and empty it somewhere. In there, you feel that you are in the toilet all your life. it’s terrible that I was sharing the same cell with hardened criminals and the under-aged,” he narrated.
In a statement published on the Official Facebook page of the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists (CAMASEJ), Angela Quintal of CPJ Africa who has been so instrumental in exposing Wawa’s illegal detention and calling for his release as well galvanizing funds for his released wrote “today one of the 8 jailed journalists in Cameroon was released. Wawa Jackson Nfor had spent almost three years in jail… There are 7 other journalists in jail in Cameroon…
Wawa Jackson says he will forever remain indebted to his colleagues in Bamenda and elsewhere, who despite the distance kept him in prayers and contributed funds for his upkeep.”
Cameroon poor press censorship record
Cameroon has been ranked by Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) as the second-worst jailer of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa — for the third consecutive year.
At least 6 of every 10 journalists in the private media actively involved in reporting on the socio-political crisis are either threatened, tortured or detained.
Among other pressmen jailed in Cameroon are Kingsley Njoka abducted and detained incommunicado for weeks before being officially charged.
Paul Chouta, a web journalist is another victim who has been behind bars for several months, though his accuser has stopped showing up in court.
According to CPJ, many journalists feel scared reporting facts as the government imposes various draconian measures to impede the smooth running of journalists.
Many others have faced summary arrest, torture, and detention. Besides, the physical brutality and intimidation meted on journalist by the government of Cameroon, the psychological torture through warnings, and censorship, only go a long way to exacerbate the already bad situation.
Mimi Mefo Info