YAOUNDÉ — Amid the massacre of civilians in the English-speaking region due to the secessionist movement, Cameroon is celebrating the National Day, known as Cameroon Unity Day, which is celebrated on May 20 every year.
The African country adopted May 20, as Unity Day in 1972, when Cameroon’s federal structure was abolished by a referendum in which East Cameroon’s numerical majority imposed a unitary structure on West Cameroon’s largely numerical “minority” known as Anglophone (English speakers).
On February 1961, the former British colony of southern Cameroon decided, through a United Nations plebiscite, to gain independence by joining the French colonial territory known as La République, a decision that seemed to mark the start of a new colonialism because they claim they are being discriminated after a Constitutional Committee in 1991 snubbed them and design a new constitution in 1996.
Instead of listening to repeated calls for a return to the 1961 constitution or a referendum on the right to self-determination that would confirm the aspirations of Anglophones to stay in the union or opt for independence, the Cameroonian government led by 88 years second longest ruling president in Africa, Paul Biya, responded forcefully by imprisoning members of Cameroon’s English-speaking pressure group and forcing others into exile.
The use of force by the government led the people to an armed struggle to secede for an independent state known as Ambazonia.
Thousands of civilians have been slaughtered by government forces who attack homes and kill citizens in the English-speaking region of the country, claiming they are looking for armed separatist fighters.
Separatist fighters, on their part, have launched several attacks against government forces and killed dozens, even though they are also recording casualties.
Rape and rights violations by government forces in the ongoing fighting that forced the surviving natives to flee to the bushes and the neighboring country, have been captured and confirmed by human rights groups, including human rights activists.
— The government continues to spread the lie that it is working hard to bring peace to the English-speaking regions of the country.
— President Biya continues to deny killing civilians while soldiers continue to spill civilians’ blood.
— The government continues to pretend that the country is united while the country has fallen apart.
Nigeria: ‘Police officers pointed the gun at me and pulled trigger’
ASABA — “They pointed the gun and pulled the trigger”, said Harrison Gwamnishu, a human rights activist who escaped assassination by Nigerian police in Asaba, the capital of Delta state.
Gwamnishu said the incident happened outside Asaba International Airport on Tuesday, after armed police officers in a white Hilux vehicle followed him.
“I wasn’t stopped by police men, there was no checkpoint and I did not overtake them. They did not even flash their light or put on their siren indicating they were flagging me down,” he said in a statement obtained by Gazette Africa.
“When I noticed the car was trailing me, I had to pull out my phone to record.. In midst of danger, I was able to have the courage to capture what happened on camera.”
Gwamnishu said that after the incident and that he filed a complaint with police authorities, the officers involved were identified.
“They are attached to CP Monitoring Delta State Police Command. They denied till they watched the video and started pleading.
“They said they didn’t know it was me in the car and pleading forgiveness for their unprofessional conduct,” he said.
The Human Rights advocate noted that on February 2021, similar incident happened to him. He said, “I was shot several times and till date those involved were not found.”
In October 2020, police brutality and extrajudicial killings sparked a demonstration by youth. The protest turned violent when government forces opened fire on protesters and killed dozens.
Meanwhile, Nigerian police have been charged in several reports of human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings. Authorities often denied the reports despite evidence, and took no action to end the crimes against civilians.
Who is responsible for attacks on police facilities, officers in Nigeria?
The true identity of those responsible for the series of attacks on police and other government forces in Nigeria has remained a mystery.
“Unknown Gunmen” is the name that the media and civilians in the country have tagged the assailants.
The federal government of Nigeria and the armed forces continue to point fingers at members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), but many civilians, including statesmen and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu – the leader of the secessionist group, have refuted this claim.
Attacks on police facilities started since October 2020, after a nationwide protest by youths demanding an end to police brutality and the disbandment of a notorious police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The killing of protesters by government forces sparked attacks on police officers and police facilities across the country.
The attacks have worsened since January 2021, as the assailants commonly referred to as “unknown gunmen” across the country carries out a series of attacks on police facilities, police checkpoints and operatives of government forces.
Meanwhile, security experts attribute the attacks to years of hostile policing in the country and the government’s failure to bring justice to victims of police brutality in the country.
“What Nigeria is going through right now is caused by the actions and inactions of the government and the police. You don’t continually mistreat, rob and kill people, and expect them to be happy with you,” said a retired police officer Clement Alozie.
“The people who burn the police station are not ghosts or unknown gunmen as we call them. These are the angry citizens who have lost their loved ones due to the police brutality, they are the victims of hostile policing, they are the citizens who have been deprived of justice in Nigeria”.
Daran Gaddo, described the attacks as worrying, but said the government is making matters worse by accusing and attacking IPOB and others.
“The government and police hastily accused IPOB and ESN just because they don’t like them and their ideology. It’s unprofessional. When you send soldiers and fighter jets to go kill these people because you don’t like them or you suspect, without prove, that they are behind the attacks, you create more beasts in society.
“If you accuse IPOB and its Eastern Security Network known as ESN, of being responsible for the attacks on the police in the south, would you also say that they are responsible for the ongoing attacks on the police and checkpoints in the west and north? The government should engage in dialogue with youths and restructure the police, including the army, to the taste and desire of the masses.”
Rights activist and leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, on his part said that ESN only operates in the bushes and forests where they guard farmers and hunt violent jihadist-Fulani herders who have killed thousands of farmers and other civilians in the Biafra region.
“I’ve said it before but let say it again that the Eastern Security Network I command is strictly organized to deal with terrorist herdsmen in our land. ESN is a highly disciplined group of volunteers that does not engage in any act of criminality or terror,” he said.
Southern Youth Forum warns against attack on Biafra, Yoruba agitators
The Southern Youth Forum, SYF, has warned Nigerian security forces against attacks on ‘Biafra’ and the ‘Yoruba nation’ agitators in the south of the country.
In a Friday statement, the socio-political group notes that any attack against members of the self-determination groups will receive “an aggressive counterattack”.
Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, had ordered police to shoot and kill members of secessionist groups in the south of the country. “Don’t mind the media shout; do the job I command you. If anyone accuses you of human rights violation, the report will come to my table and you know what I will do. So, take the battle to them wherever they are and kill them all. Don’t wait for an order,” the police chief said when speaking to police officers in the early days of May 2021.
A statement signed by the Hon. Adewale Lekan – President, Comrade Nwagu Orie – Vice President, and Dezia Kue – SYF spokesperson, reads as follows:
“We, the Southern Youth Forum, SYF, strongly condemn the militarization of communities in southern Nigeria, the illegal arrest alongside the slaughter of youths by security agents who have been deployed on orders to kill at will.
“It is regrettable that the government has deployed its military equipment and soldiers against the population of the south, while pampering the Fulani terrorists who sack parts of the country, mainly the Christian communities of the north where they kill thousands of people, displace and kidnap others for ransom.
“It is also painful to see that Nigerian security agents who have failed in their constitutional duty to protect the lives and property of citizens, parade and kill innocent civilians in the south, accusing them of being responsible for attacks on them, police stations and others.
“Having said this, we, the SYF, hereby call on the Federal Government of Nigeria headed by “President Muhammadu Buhari” to withdraw soldiers, military equipment and police from all communities in the South within 48 hours.
“We also hereby demand the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, to publicly apologize and withdraw his order asking the police to arrest, shoot and kill IPOB members and other civilians he labeled as “criminals” in the south. Failure to do so within 48 hours will lead to all legal proceedings against the IGP, which will include his ban from the region, and we will mobilize against the police in the south, regardless of the consequences.
“Sheikh Ahmad Gumi who is the known spokesperson for Fulani terrorists in Nigeria, and whose house is used for the payment of ransom and other heinous acts by Fulani terrorists, walks free and threatens citizens even on national television and newspapers, but the army, police and DSS did not declare war and attack him and his gang of terrorists. Isa Pantami still holds a very sensitive public office in Nigeria despite evidence that proves that he is a sympathizer and sponsor of terrorism. This government sees nothing wrong with that, it pursues and kills peaceful Biafra and Yoruba Nation agitators in the South.
“We now state publicly that, henceforth, any attack against the agitators of Biafra and the Yoruba Nation, will receive an aggressive counterattack.
“We commend the governors of the south for the open grazing ban, and we promise to ensure that it is fully implemented as no Fulani herders will be left here in the south.
“Having said that, we peacefully call on any individual or politician working against the collective interest of the south, to move to north or wherever they believe will be safe because the south will no longer be safe for such people.”
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