Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, Cameroon’s Minister of State, Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic was officially in Buea Thursday to inspect infrastructure ahead of the January 9 kick-off of the Africa Football Cup of Nations, AFCON.
But while in Buea, the country’s de facto president visited some stakeholders and victims of the ongoing war in the North-West and South-West Regions. He held talks with Monsignor Michael Bibi, Bishop of Buea and the family of the schoolgirl (Enondiale Carolaise) murdered by a gendarme.
It was the first time Ngoh Ngoh was visiting the South-West Region since the war broke out five years ago. He had been in the North-West Region in January 2021 during the visit of the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin.
Coming after a recent visit to Buea by Prime Minister, Head of Government Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute, many expect that Ngoh Ngoh will take action for a return to peace.
Especially with him being Cameroon’s de facto president, are Anglophones justified to expect anything or a concrete solution from Ngoh Ngoh?
On Thursday, October 14, 2021, a gendarme officer from the Center Region, Mvogo Rogobert shot and killed 6-year-old Enondiale Carolaise on her way to school. Although the army somewhat tried to justify the actions of the gendarme by blaming the young child’s family, Ngoh Ngoh said 88-year-old President Paul Biya had sent him to Buea with words of comfort.
Many are wondering why Ngoh Ngoh (or his patron, Biya) will only extend condolences to the family of Enondiale Carolaise when many other cases have gone unnoticed.
Soldiers killed baby Martha in Muyuka
The army denied involvement in the death of four-month-old Martha Neba in violence-plagued Muyuka in the South-West Region.
The parents of the baby murdered by Cameroonian soldiers Monday, May 20, 2019 went into hiding, afraid speaking out will make them a target for the authorities.
Pictures of the dead four-month-old Martha Neba were circulated online, along with a graphic video showing her body on a sofa with bullet casings nearby and her aunt crying as an unknown man filming the video accused Cameroon’s military of killing her.
“Let them come and kill me too,” screamed Martha’s aunt, Gladys Lum, in anguish.
The family was visiting Muyuka in the South-West region so that four-month-old Martha could be presented to her grandfather. She was asleep on the sofa in his house, her mother was cooking behind it and her father relaxing in front when they heard gunshots.
“I quickly told my wife to run,” said Martha’s father, Funi Neba. “She went and hid around our neighbour’s house, I went right into the forest. On my way back I met a man who told me about the incident. I rushed home and saw my daughter on the chair. They damaged my daughter. I was seeing a bullet inside her head. You know how soft a baby’s head can be.”
According to a neighbour, the men were arguing as they left the house, with one asking another why he had shot such a young child.
When she saw her daughter, Martha’s mother, Emilia Agbor, collapsed. Martha was buried the next day, then the video of her appeared on social media. When soldiers came to the house asking for her parents, they went on the run, scared of reprisals for speaking out.
“The military shot my child,” Agbor said. “They are the ones who shot my child. Right now we are in the bush, we are running from government. I am afraid.”
The government denied what it said were false accusations, with René Sadi, the communications minister, giving his version of events in a statement. He said Neba was a former secessionist rebel, now rehabilitated, and that he and most of his family had fled when his ex-comrades, armed with knives and hunting guns, attacked his home. The baby had been killed with a knife, not a gun, he said, and the subsequent video had been staged in order to “demonise” the country’s armed forces.
He did not explain how he knew this, and did not announce an investigation into the baby’s death.
Neba, in hiding, said he was not a rebel but a banana plantation worker who had worked for months without pay.
“If the government can come out and say I am a separatist, I don’t have what to say to them, other than that God who created us all knows that I am innocent,” he said.
“My father stayed back, he said they should come and kill him since they have already done their worst. He questioned why they killed the innocent child, (when) they could have rather killed him.”
Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh and his president Paul Biya are yet to commiserate with the family of Baby Martha.
Soldiers killed children, pregnant women in Ngarbuh
Three soldiers are standing trial at a military court in Yaounde charged with murder in Ngarbuh, a village in the trouble-packed North West Region of Cameroon where at least 23 civilians were killed during an operation against Anglophone separatist forces on 14 February 2020.
“The three Cameroonian soldiers have been placed in provisional detention in Yaounde military prison,” army spokesman Colonel Cyrille Atonfack Guemo said, adding that they had been charged with murder.
At least 23 civilians, including 15 children and two pregnant women, were killed on 14 February last year in Ngarbuh. The United Nations described it as “a shocking episode in the ongoing crisis that has afflicted the country’s Northwest and Southwest regions for the past three years”.
The Cameroon authorities initially denied the soldiers’ role in the killings, describing allegations against security forces as “fake”. They claimed the deaths resulted from an “unfortunate accident” when fuel containers exploded in the crossfire between separatists and troops.
But on 22 April 2020, a report by a commission of inquiry singled out three “uncontrolled” soldiers – a sergeant, gendarme and private first class. It described how they had killed civilians and then tried to conceal their actions by starting the fires.
The investigation prompted the government to do a U-turn: the soldiers were arrested and put before a military tribunal accused of killing at least three women and 10 children with the help of a local vigilante committee.
In addition to being charged with the murder, the three soldiers are also accused of disobeying orders, destruction of property and arson.
President Paul Biya and Ngoh Ngoh are yet to go to Ngarbuh to console these grieving families.
The families of 2 women and 2 children brutally killed by soldiers in 2015 are yet to see President Biya at their doorstep.
From the above, it goes without say that Ngoh Ngoh was only shedding crocodile tears in Buea, a typical case of using one stone to kill several birds.