On September 21, 2021, Cameroon’s Prime Minister, Head of Government, Dion Ngute Joseph, at a meeting in Buea, bullied journalists with veiled threats and a FCFA 5 million ‘gombo’ envelope to toe government lines or be towed away.
Dion Ngute, who is also a native chief in the Southwest region, warned journalists to desist from extremist reports that fuel the armed conflict in the two English speaking regions.
“You should educate, and sensitise the population on the so many achievements attained by government in restoring normalcy in the restive regions,” Dion Ngute thundered as gun-wielding soldiers paraded the venue of the meeting.
The PM is on a working visit to preach the achievements of the Major National Dialogue, two years after.
“Schools are more than 50% operational in the Southwest region. I wonder why that is not being trumpeted on your media. Look at how the CDC is progressively gaining its exportation strengths. Look at these positive developments!” the PM ordered reporters.
The PM also used the opportunity to expand on the progress made since the Major National Dialogue. He indicated that the Special Status is increasingly bearing good fruits for the population of the two English speaking regions. He however failed to cite even one benefit that the population of both regions have had from the 2019 Major National Dialogue.
“It’s only in the North-West and South-West Regions that there’s an independent conciliator. It’s in the assemblies of the two regions that there will be bicameral legislature,” he expounded, but failed to tell the journalists that governors who act like colonial administrators remain the gods of both regions. The regional presidents are only but puppets in the hands of all-powerful governors named by Yaoundé.
But when Dion Ngute talks of Major National Dialogue recommendations being implemented, could he have been in dreamland or was he rehearsing a script given to him by his hierarchy? Where are the recommendations being implemented when soldiers and the country’s young people are dying every day?
Are these not the same lies and lack of accountability that brought us to where we are today?
Handpicked journalists were given the floor to air out their challenges and how they can effectively communicate government’s efforts in restoring peace and normalcy in the two regions. They spent all their time praising the government, in an attempt to justify the FCFA 5 million envelop given to them by the PM.
Where is journalist Samuel Wazizi?
That PM Dion Ngute had the guts to address journalists in the South West, telling them to change reporting narrative, without handing them to body of journalist Samuel Wazizi is testament of government’s tyranny.
Wazizi was killed in military custody and his corpse is yet to be handed over to his family and colleagues for burial.
What an insult from Prime Minister Dion Ngute! Before bullying journalists to the government line, the PM should have started by providing the mortal remains of Wazizi killed by his government forces in detention.
On Friday, June 5, 2020, Cameroon’s army confirmed Wazizi died in detention “as a result of severe sepsis” on August 17, 2019. That news of his death was announced 10 months after he had died in puzzling.
In the statement, army spokesman Cyrille Atonfack Nguemo said the military took custody of Wazizi on August 7, 2019 after investigations revealed he was coordinating logistics for separatist fighters – charges his family and colleagues deny.
On August 13, 2020, Nguemo said, Wazizi was placed into the custody of the national gendarmerie – a military police force. Soon after, Wazizi became sick and was taken to hospital in Yaoundé, where he died on August 17, Nguemo said.
“He clearly died from a severe sepsis and not from any acts of torture,” Nguemo said, rejecting accusations of torture made by the head of the journalists’ union.
Nguemo also said that Wazizi’s family was informed of his death. But Wazizi’s brother, Henry Abuwe, denied that.
“It’s a lie,” he was quoted as saying by MMI, adding that his brother was “loved by everyone” and had never worked with the separatists.
Kah Walla, a Cameroonian opposition figure and social activist, wrote on Twitter in June 2020: “300 days. A family was looking for their son. Loved ones were searching for him. 300 days. 300 days where his lawyers could not see him. 300 days where he did not show up for court. 300 days hope was kept alive. 300 days. They had already killed him.”
For the Prime Minister to continue to bully journalists in Buea without presenting Wazizi’s corpse is an insult to journalists and journalism.