The governor of the South West Region of Cameroon, Bernard Okalia Bilai ordered the deployment of defence and security forces to accompany traditional rulers of the region to perform traditional rites in the regional capital, Buea.
Governor Okalia Bilai, in a note sent to the security services of the region, stated that the move is a follow-up to an enlarged security meeting held a few days ago.
This comes a day to October 1, 2023, commemorated annually by Separatist Ambazonia militants as the independence day of a country they are fighting to create in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.
“Sequel to strong resolutions taken during the enlarged security meeting of September 27, 2023, in the Governor’s Office Buea, aimed at eradicating the “ghost town” phenomenon in the South-West Region: I have the honour to request you accompany Members of Parliament and Traditional Authorities, as well as provide security assistance, to perform cleansing traditional rites around Buea, on Saturday 30 September 2023, according to the itinerary here” the governor’s letter reads.
Since the advent of the Anglophone Crisis, Governor Okalia Bilai has been at the centre of controversies with traditional rulers of the South West region over degrading matching orders.
MMI had reported how the governor, after a security meeting on September 27, 2023 said traditional rulers will henceforth be accountable for Separatist activities in their villages.
“If an atrocity is committed in an area, the traditional rulers and their notables will be answerable” he said to the discomfort of many who think traditional rulers are powerless in the face of the armed conflict.
It should be noted that on April 25, 2019, Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai caused a stir after ordering traditional rulers in the South West Region to march during the National Day celebration on May 20, 2019, amidst separatist calls for people to boycott the celebration.
The chiefs stiffly resisted the order and told the governor that they were not going to partake in the march past.
The South West Chiefs Conference’s then-President, HRM Mafany Njie Martin, signed a communiqué in which the Chiefs stated that marching was against their customs and native laws.