By Nadesh E.
More than one week after 17 Separatists were mysteriously killed in Ntale, a village in Nguti subdivision, Kupe Muaneneguba division, South West Region of Cameroon, CNA has conducted a thorough investigation on the incident. We spoke with actors from the community who gave us exclusive insights on what, why and how it happened. Though Separatist leaders in Kupe Muanenguba have said the group was not part of their team, it remained clear that the young men who were killed were recognized as Ambazonia fighters, their activities betrayed their initial goal of fighting for the population, as stated by a Separatist spokesperson in an audio.
A source who lives around the site of incident clarified to CNA that the 17 young men who disappeared in Ntale died because of their intention to avenge their 4 peers who had died weeks before that fateful day. The village masquerade commonly called “juju” is said to have killed them with no one knowing their whereabouts. They are said to be fighters from Ntale, Talangaye and other villages in the subdivision. They met their demise when they returned to Ntale on Friday, August 14, 2020, to avenge their peers and to collect a 2 million fine they levied on a family that came to bury a relative in Ntale. But how could a masquerade kill more than a dozen youths without anyone seeing their corpses? An elderly man tells CNA that things of the gods are not questionable.
According to a native from Mungo-Ndor, “There was a joint effort of villagers off-the-road (those in the hinterland without access to the main road) to weed their zone from thieves who have been terrorizing villagers on the basis of fighting for freedom. These villagers came together to bring order. The villagers had selected some men to tell the fighters to lay down their arms and stop seizing their properties and reopen the roads they had blocked. The fighters refused and called for backup from Talangaye. It was in that tussle that 17 young men lost their lives…”
Although not happy with the death of these men, He said his only message to other fighters is for them to drop their weapons.
We spoke with Four natives from neighbouring villages and they confirmed that the Ntale road leading to Kokobuma where they sell their goods was blocked by the fighters. Villagers have been using an alternative road through Babubock to sell their farm products (cocoa) in Bangem.
Upon hearing the news of the demise of more than 17 fighters, government forces have matched to Ntale village passing through the poor earth road on August 22, 2020. Unlike the usual burning down of houses like the one in neighbouring Babubock and Elah, they have applauded the efforts of the Ntale villagers and asked them to rally further to get rid of separatist fighters.
Another source told us their journey to Ntale was to recover all military guns seized by the separatist fighters. We can’t independently confirm if the guns were recovered.
During another exclusive chat with the First Deputy Mayor of the Nguti Council, Mr Esua Cyprian, he said all these pieces information are true and that the subdivision has come to a standstill because of the armed conflict.
He however laments over the demise of the 17 young men but says their exit will mean a temporal resumption of activities in the area. “…Despite being separatist fighters they are still our children and we wouldn’t want that to happen to any of them. I hope this incident serves as an example for their peers and will give Nguti some peace…” the mayor added.
According to Mr Esua, this is the situation of the subdivision
- Education has greatly been affected by the armed conflict since 2017 when the crisis grew worse. He said all the 71 schools in the subdivision have been closed down. All children are home and parents except for rich families that have relocated their children to school in other areas.
- Agriculturally, the farming population cannot sell their cocoa because fighters had blocked the road used by farmers to sell their produce. Others who could not withstand the pressure fled the villages.
- Hospitals have also been closed as patients and health practitioners prefer to stay alive than die in hospitals that suffer attack from both sides.
- The Nguti council is unable to make any revenue from corporate bodies and traders at the market. Even the staff have fled the area for fear of the unknown.
Traditional rulers, administrators and villagers have begged for peace from both parties as the surge in suffering continues. Some Nguti elites met in Douala recently to discuss the possibilities of developing their subdivision under an association called Nguti Area Synergies, NAS.