I write to you today from Kondengui Principal Prison, where I am unjustly detained with a sizeable part of my cabinet and with thousands of other Southern Cameroonian prisoners who have run afoul of the repressive regime of Paul Biya, the long-ruling despot of Cameroon.
We are in an increasingly dire state – overlooked and forgotten by the world at large, which allows our captors to inflict unspeakable violence upon us. This, in reality, is indicative of the broader struggle that my people have faced, often in silence and too often disregarded.
Over the past two years, I have the honor of serving as the president of the Southern Cameroons Interim Government. Several months ago, I was illegally abducted, together with part of my cabinet from the Nera Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria, and thereafter illegally transported to Cameroon, in violation of international law. To be sure, I am merely the latest victim of a catastrophe that has been long-simmering, evident today by a growing social fissure that has resulted in countless deaths and destruction.
Historically, The Republic of Cameroon achieved its independence on January 1, 1960 and became a member of United Nations with her own territory clearly defined, sharing a recognized boundary with Southern Cameroons. British Southern Cameroons was later granted its independence on October 1, 1961 with her own territory clearly mapped out as well, sharing common boundaries with the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Cameroon.
As such, the root cause of today’s ongoing crisis is the result of a severely botched decolonization process. And this must be addressed immediately before a lasting solution can be found, one that is built on a foundation of international law and a culture of justice and respect for basic human dignity. Put simply, international law provides Southern Cameroons the right to self-determination. What is more, the violence and killings that are taking place in Southern Cameroons at this time, has left us with no alternative than to fight, to defend and to liberate ourselves from the shackles of black on black colonialization.
The unjust treatment of Southern Cameroonians is, today, an unavoidable and tragic reality. Our people are being killed not for what they have done but for who they are. Our people have indeed been described as “rats” and “dogs” by members of the Cameroon’s government. There are calls to exterminate us, and other Ambazonians, with the justification that President Biya has the right to kill everyone on the pretext of “national unity.”
Imagine being told that you are the enemies in the house; imagine your people being told to vacate their ancestral lands and villages or be considered terrorists; imagine the scorched earth policy and military operations in our villages that have spared no one, not even elderly women and young children; just imagine being made to feel like a second class citizen in the country of your birth. These are the stone-cold and brutal facts of today and living conditions in which we are forced to somehow survive.
On the basis of these reprehensible and humiliating conditions, Southern Cameroonian leaders have sought, on multiple occasions over the years, to engage in peaceful dialogue with Cameroonian authorities. We have been consistently refused this opportunity. Over the due course of time, our people – myself included – realized that we were simply victims of another broken promise and the signs of impending disaster were manifest. Our hopes were dashed and many of our leaders, both political and civic, were thrown illegally into jail. Protests had failed. Attempts at good faith dialogue also failed. We were stymied. We were beaten. And we were humiliated in the process. We thus came to the realization that collectively we had no other alternative except that of preparing for direct confrontation, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the international community.
Put simply, the people of Southern Cameroons have lost faith in the Cameroon experiment – it is indeed an incurable disease. Paul Biya and his regime has ruthlessly cracked down on our peaceful people – our mothers, fathers and children alike – with a ferocious barbarity. War has been declared on our people. This is all to remind onlookers and readers that we did not move irresponsibly into direct confrontation with authorities in Cameroon. We have always advocated for a peaceful resolution to the root causes of this crisis. However, Biya and his regime thought otherwise, determining that violence can be the solution.
Never again can we, the people of Southern Cameroons, afford to live with the narrow and institutionalized status of second-class citizens – certainly not in the land of our ancestors.
Today, the winds of freedom and liberty beckons to your divine conscience to tell your governments and your elected representatives worldwide: Let my people go! Support our democratic aspirations. This struggle has gone beyond that of individuals like me willing to pay the ultimate price for the freedom of our people. Join our struggle for human decency and battle for respect of our bodies, hearts and minds, our traditions and values. The struggle for the complete independence of Southern Cameroons is your struggle. Please, stand with us.
Makinde and The Jinx of Salary in Politics | By Alhazan Abiodun
Before Shiites Is Labelled A Terrorist Group | By Rahaman Onike
Monday’s Police-Shiites clash in Abuja conjure up a mental image of the theatre of war barely two weeks when the sect’s protest turned violent at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
The Shiites, agitation was not unexpected. Since December 2015 that Ibraheem El-Zakzaky has been in detention for alleged murder among other accusations, his followers have not relented in their efforts to get him released.
If what Shiites described as peaceful protest will be so regarded there wouldn’t have been reports of violence that day. With the Premium Times report of the protest, it was alleged that the Shiites threw petrol bombs as part of the protest. What this implies is that the Shiite phenomenon is assuming a more dangerous dimension with relentless efforts of members of his sect to secure the release of the leader of the group.
Out of the total casualties recorded during Monday’s Shiites protest, the most devastating was the death of Precious Owolabi, the 23 years old Corps member serving with Channels TV.
The death of this promising young Journalist is a reminder of gory tales of how many brilliant Journalists had lost their lives in the course of performing their professional duties. With the circumstance of this sudden and untimely death of Precious Owolabi, public attention is once again being drawn to the reality that journalism could be hazardous and adventurous.
It is high time the federal government took decisive action to curtail the violent agitation by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) otherwise referred to as Shiites.
Apart from the use of moderate force by the police, the government should think of Psychological measures rather than relying on the use of force alone to cause the Shiites to retreat.
By nature, character, and activities of Islamic sects, no serious government would take their threats as empty noise. I am sure that President Muhammadu Buhari with his military background understand the psychology of the militants that they would not mind sacrificing their lives in the course of the struggle. This is part of the reasons why Boko Haram survives till now.
It won’t be in our nation’s best interest for the government to allow Shiites crisis to escalate or become another deadly terrorist group like Boko Haram. If care is not taken, Shiite’s crises will become an additional headache for the country already suffering from unending ethnic conflicts, economic crisis, and insecurity challenges.
Given the number of security personnel that the nation had lost to restiveness of Shiites in the last three years, I think the government needs a more intelligent approach and proactive strategy to curtail the excesses of the sect.
One other worrisome angle to the whole scenario was the killing of DSP Usman Umar Belel in the course of onslaught between the police and Shiite during the so-called peaceful protest staged by Shiites in Abuja on Monday.
If the account by Mr. Frank Mba, the Force Public Relations Officer is anything to go by, the claim by Shiites that their protests were peaceful would be rejected. With the death toll after Mondays’ mayhem and cost implication of NEMA equipment set ablaze and several police officers on the danger list, one may tend to believe the Force Public Relations Officer’s press statement that the protesters were fully armed and engaged in an indiscriminate attack on innocent citizens and police officers.
Now that the call for the urgent release of Mallam El-Zakzaky is becoming a popular demand in the country, this will remain wishful thinking so far the federal government has already made a contrary pronouncement on the issue.
In a way, President Muhammed Buhari may not be wrong after all, giving the fact that there was virtually no valid and subsisting court order to effect the release of IMN leader, El-Zakzaky.
The much talked about the order of Justice Kolawole for the release of El-Zakzaky and his wife was made in 2016 before the culpable homicide charge was filed against him in the High Court of Justice by the Kaduna State Government.
Since he was held on a charge of culpable homicide, the offense of such grievous nature is ordinarily not bailable exception exceptional grounds mostly if the suspect suffers life-threatening ill-health.
Unfortunately, those clamoring for his release seem to be unaware that currently there is no subsisting order for the release of El-Zakazaky upon his arraignment for culpable homicide.
With the current reality, what El-Zakzaky’s legal team can do to assist their client is to ensure that the court expeditiously hears and dispose of the case. Notwithstanding, whether Judgement will be delivered in his favour or otherwise depends on his culpability and the decision should be left to the discretion of the court.
One important point to make clear here is that it is not Buhari/Federal Government that is holding El-Zakzaky for homicide charge and being responsible for his bail refusal. If anybody is to be blamed at all, I think it should be El-Rufai/Kaduna State Government.
Assuming El-ZakZaky was charged for insurrection or terrorism, probably he would have been charged by the Federal Government instead of Kaduna State Government that is currently holding him on the charge of culpable homicide.
Whatever other extraneous reasons for holding him, the best strategy to ensure his release, for now, is through the Judicial Process. On a more serious note, this is likely to be more fruitful than persistent agitations and wanton killing of innocent citizens by the Shiites.
Rahaman Onike, Public Affairs Analyst writes from Oyo, Oyo State.
Sunday Dare, a deserved ministerial nomination from Oyo State | By Bolaji Tunji
Who is Sunday Dare?
Dr. Sunday Akin Dare is the Executive Commissioner (Stakeholder Management) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NC C).
Until his appointment, he was the Convener of the Social Media Clinic (SMC), a Media/Information Technology (New Media) initiative committed to educating private citizens on IT development and also in the use of telecommunication as an information tool and creating awareness on how to responsibly use the platform provided by advancements in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). He combined this role with being the Chief of Staff / Special Adviser (Media) to former Lagos State Governor, Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Science (BSc.) in International Studies from Ahmadu Bello University in 1991. He then proceeded to obtain a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the University of Jos. He was a Freedom Forum Fellow and Visiting Scholar, School of Journalism – New York University (NYU) in 1998. He later proceeded to Harvard University under the prestigious Harvard Nieman Journalism Fellowship between 2000 and 2001 where he studied Media and Public Policy.
In 2011 he won the Reuters Foundation Journalism Research Fellowship, University of Oxford, UK where he researched “New Media and Citizen Journalism in Africa – A Case Study: Using New Media Tools and Citizen Journalism to Investigate Corruption in Nigeria.”
Mr. Dare has decades of multimedia journalism experience spanning about 25 years (1991 and 2016) when he was nominated as Executive Commissioner.
He was the Chief, Hausa Service, African Division, Voice of America (VOA) in Washington, DC from 2001 to 2009, where, apart from directing the production of radio and online broadcast news and programs daily, he designed and implemented the adoption of new IT and Telecoms tools for international radio news- gathering and information dissemination to boost audience size and expand reach. He supervised the work of eleven (11) International Radio Broadcast Journalists based in Washington DC alongside 24 reporters/stringers based in West Africa for VOA.
He was a founding member of the Nigerian weekly magazines The News and Tempo in the heady days of the military, where he served as Editor, Tempo magazine and pioneer Online Editor/General.
He had been reporter/columnist with several international publications such as The Nation magazine in New York and a production editor/writer with the European funded Fourth Estate magazine during the struggle against military dictatorship in Nigeria.
In 2009, he became Senior Special Assistant (Media) / Chief of Staff to the Minister of Information and Communications during which he guided decisions on all media and communications related matters, government information dissemination and media policies under the purview of the Ministry. He was at this time assigned to oversee aspects of the operations of the NCC and brief the Minister of Information and Communications on issues, challenges and opportunities in Nigeria’s emerging telecommunications market. He also participated in strategic meetings between the office of the Minister, Information and Communications and the NCC leadership at that time, including being a member of the Minister’s advisory team on the sale of the 2.3GHz spectrum frequency.
Mr. Dare is a recipient of many awards and has been recognized internationally, including being identified as one of the 50 Leading Nigerians in North America 2010 in commemoration of Nigeria’s 50th Anniversary. He also won the Voice of America Meritorious Honor Award 2009 in recognition of his skillful leadership and outstanding performance; and he also bagged a Committee to Protect Journalists Citation in 2000 by the New York based organization in acknowledgement of his courage as a journalist.
His published works include; Making A Killing – The Business of War (Public Integrity Books, Washington DC – March 2003), which won the Sigma Delta Chi International investigative award; Guerrilla Journalism: Dispatches From The Underground (Xlibris Corporation, USA. – March 2007); We Are All Journalists – Africa In The Age Of Social Media (Oxford University Press, UK – 2011) the product of Mr. Dare’s research at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford University; and Datelines – A Journalists’ Narrative (May 2016). Ongoing works include; Butting Heads – Traditional Media Versus Social Media – Who Blinks First and Marriage that Works – The Convergence of Telecoms & ICT.
He is a member and associate of several professional bodies including the US based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) the Investigative Workshop, American University and a former Knight Fellow, International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), Washington DC.
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