John Ewome Eko (a.k.a. Moja Moja), a popular military officer who is noted for countless xenophobic utterances and acts, appears to have usurped the role of administrator of the South West Region of Cameroon.
Although not surprising to many, he has unleashed another outright call for South Westerners to chase people from the North West out of their region.
In a video that made the rounds on social media over the week, the Buea-based officer of Cameroon’s Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) said he will soon “launch a war” between people from the North West and those from the South West.
“All Southwesterners must join me to say no to these graffi people,” he said in the video.
“In a few weeks’ time I will surely launch a war between graffi and sawa people. If the graffis don’t tell their children to stop this nonsense, I will push them out of here. Innocent or not innocent, you people are one. You have the same mentality,” he added.
It was the latest of several videos he has released in the past, most of them pitting people in the English-speaking Regions against each other.
He has been exploiting the ongoing separatist conflict in the two regions to preach hate against the North Westerners.
Many who have watched him over the years say he has taken the law unto himself.
In an article published in August last year, Jeune Afrique questioned if he had gone out of the government’s control.
On several occasions, he has released videos in which he brutalizes civilians, mostly people from the North West, asking them to move out of the South West Region.
His victims have been both men and women, some of whom have ended up dead.
On March 15, he killed two young men at Ekona, located a few kilometers from Buea, after accusing them of being separatist fighters.
He openly paraded their bodies on the roadside in Muea, Buea, but went scotch-free afterward.
In one of his worst atrocities, he brutalized and arbitrarily arrested an eight-month-pregnant woman in Buea on October 2, 2021.
Antoinette Kongnso’s crime was that she once dated a popular separatist fighter, “General No Pity”, several years back.
Kongnso was freed from Buea Central Prison on February 15 of this year after spending 16 months behind bars.
Human rights lawyers, including Barristers Ewule Lyonga and Tamfu Richard, among others, sued Moja Moja but the case had no breakthrough.
The military officer, who now seems above the law and the administration, operates in a typical militia style.
He has a private gang of armed men who parade the town of Buea and its environs on vehicles and motorcycles on a daily basis.
Their activities are never questioned and they seem to have been given the leeway to do whatever they want.
Enabled By Hierarchy?
Despite being accused of a long list of abuses, Moja Moja has never received an open rebuke from the administration.
Rather, government officials and the elite of the South West Region either remained silent and are believed to be coaching him from the background.
In an article published on October 4, 2021, MMI reported that the Prime Minister, Joseph Dion Ngute, had once called on Moja Moja “to keep up with the good work”.
The PM is also reported to have assured him of unfettered protection during his visit to Buea that year.
Aside from his military engagements, Moja Moja is also embedded into tradition.
He is little known for being the Chief of Bwassa, a small village in Buea Subdivision.
However, he continues to lead other Chiefs in major traditional activities and rituals in Buea.
Many people have been disgruntled by his activities, but very few have declared their intentions openly.
In August last year, a group of human rights lawyers, who were weary of the administration’s inaction against him, filed a lawsuit against the officer.
They accused him of torture, abuse of office, arrest sequestration, and conditional threats against civilians.
On January 5, the South West Gendarmerie Legion Commander invited the lawyers to “present the list of victims of his atrocities” Moja Moja was accused of committing.
The case has not been brought up again since then.
Mimi Mefo Info