Hopes for the release of diehard Chelsea fan Israel Giyo, a young man wrongfully arrested in Ndu, North West region, some weeks ago by security officers, are bleak.
Sources have it that the commander of the Ndu Gendarmerie Brigade is adamant that only Yaoundé can order the young man’s release.
Israel, a mobile money operator was arrested and detained by security forces, who accused him of working with separatists abroad by receiving money in Cameroon.
They also accused him of supporting the movement, owing to his use of blue and white colours to decorate his house.
“On Tuesday, October 4, around 1 was intercepted by security forces while returning from the market,” a family source narrated.
They took his ID card and phone before searching his house.
On finding nothing, they took him to the brigade, where he was held for days and then transferred to the regional capital, Bamenda.
Another close family source who asked not to be named, for fear of retribution, revealed to MMI that he is being held at the Bamenda Central Prison. “He made about three weeks in Ndu before he was transferred to Bamenda”.
Family, pregnant wife in distress
Israel’s family has been left in great distress and uncertainty since his arrest, given that he was the breadwinner. His wife is eight months and a week pregnant.
“It is not easy with her. She is worried. She has been inconsolable ever since and was taken to the hospital by her mother recently as the pregnancy is too heavy for her already,” the family source narrates.
The situation is expected to get worse as she will give birth in a few days and will need all the support she can get from her partner.
Between the devil and deep blue sea
Israel’s sad tale of suffering on both sides of the Anglophone crisis exacerbates his current situation.
Israel has also been a victim of separatist fighters who have been kidnapped a number of times and accused of working with government security forces.
“They took him to their camp, where they detained him for a while,” the family source narrates.
Yet Israel remained determined to stay back and not leave Ndu, unlike many others that have fled the armed conflict.
His desire to stay back and develop his home has made him one of the thousands of victims of the armed conflict now languishing behind bars.
“If Yaounde does not call there is nothing we can do,” the local security authorities told Israel’s close family members.
Israel’s case further sheds light on the complex nature of the hyper-centralisation of power in Cameroon. The decision to detain Israel without due process was taken locally, without consultation with Yaounde, but the local authorities now claim that Yaounde must be involved in providing a solution.
This is a complex relationship that has been at the heart of the Anglophone crisis and continues to fuel the conflict and multiply the injustices meted out to the population.
Updates: Israel was finally released on Friday, December 15, 2023. This came over a year after his arrest and detention. He was “discharged” and all the charges dropped. But no compensation was ever paid.
(C) Mimi Mefo Info Exclusive