By Tata Mbunwe
Gunmen believed to be the authors of the kidnapped of Imam Idris of Bamusso in Ndian Division of Cameroon’s volatile South West region over month ago are said to be demanding ransom in millions. The religious leader has been in the unknown since December 16, 2021.
Speaking on MediaAfrique Radio in Buea, the Chief Imam at the Buea Central Mosque said they have spoken with the armed men, whom he said, were calling from Nigeria.
He said their Muslim counterparts in Bamusso are now without a leader and they do not yet know the Imam’s whereabouts.
“He was kidnapped on the 19 of December. It happened at Idabato in his house. They met him there with four other people, they killed all of these people and they took him away. They asked for an amount of money that I don’t understand, whether they meant to say five million, I don’t know. They did not tell us who they were and as of now we don’t know where the Imam is – whether he is in Nigeria or elsewhere we don’t know. But the number that called us was a Nigerian number,” the Buea Imam said on air.
The Bamusso Imam was kidnapped at his home in Idabato, still in the Ndian Division. The gunmen also killed four people, including a Nigerian, who were in the house with him on that day before taking the Imam away alongside an engine boat he had just bought.
Muslim leaders have been collaborating with security officials in Bamusso subdivision to track the abductors. Ndian Division is prone to incursions from Biafra separatists in Nigeria’s South East. They are believed to sometimes cross into the Cameroonian side to collaborate with Ambazonia separatists.
On who kidnapped the Muslim leader, the Buea Imam said, “It could be those who are doing fishing. They also carried a new engine boat he had just bought. But we do not know what exactly transpired before he was kidnapped. It is only when he returns that we will know from him what really happened.”
He said they have consulted the Nigerian Consul General for the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon based in Buea, so that, through his influence, the Nigerian border police could track the telephone number being used by the armed men.
Ndian Division in the South West region is home to some separatist groups in the English-speaking regions of Buea who are fighting to carve out a separate state from the two regions.
Last year, one of the armed groups in Ndian kidnapped six divisional delegates one of who had died in captivity. The remaining five delegates are still in captivity and government has said nothing about their situation.
In Bamenda, a renowned traditional ruler and President of the North West House of Chiefs, Fon Kevin Yakum of Bambalang has also been in the hands of separatist fighters’ for months now.
A recent move by the military to release him, is said to have led to the demise of four separatist dead and some military men injured.