Late Col. Avraham Avi Sirvan (R)
President Paul Biya’s Special Military Adviser, Avraham Avi Sirvan, who was also Commander of the Rapid Intervention Battalion, BIR, was among four people that died in a helicopter crash Monday, November 22.
The corpse of the Israeli soldier was flown home on Tuesday, November 23 on board an Air France plane. The Post learnt that a special squad of military security from Israel will be in Cameroon to investigate the crash that claimed the life of their compatriot. President Paul Biya too, has ordered investigations into the crash.
According to reports, the helicopter that left Man O’ War Bay Military base in Limbe that morning was reportedly piloted by one Col. Ernest Ojong. The BIR boss is said to have redeployed his elements in the Southwest Region to fortify the squad following the recent pirate attack in the Bakassi Peninsula that claimed the lives of five people, including three BIR elements.
Other sources say the late Israeli Colonel was hurrying to Yaounde to prepare for President Biya’s outings. The BIR boss is said to have not only been Biya’s special military adviser, but also to have undertaken many secret investigations and nipping any conspiracy against the President in the bud. He is said to have contributed much to the arrest of Liman Oumate who issued an ultimatum asking Biya to quit power in 30 days or face the music of a bloody coup.
In a terse announcement on the state radio, Communication Minister, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, did not say what caused the crash of the helicopter. There were, however, speculations that the crash might have been caused by bad weather. Given that the Israeli Colonel was above all other elements of the presidential security, it is speculated that the crash might have been subterfuge by his detractors within the Cameroonian army to quench the rival.
Military sources say Avraham had the ear of the President who gave him full support and to whom he reported directly. “BIR elements did not take instructions from someone else except their commander,” a source told The Post. “Since Avi Sirvan was dealing directly with President Biya, many Cameroonian army officials did not like him. They equally hated him because he frustrated some of their corrupt moves,” our source said.
He was responsible for the recruitment of some 1,900 commanders into the Presidential Guard and BIR units. Avraham came to Cameroon some five years ago and eventually replaced a retired General of the French Army, Raymond Germanos, who was then Biya’s Special Military Adviser. He had worked as a military attaché at the Israeli Embassy in Yaounde.
Observers are wondering why the Minister of Communication only made a brief announcement about the unfortunate incident without revealing the names of the victims. “Why would the Minister refuse to reveal the names of the victims of an accident? Is he not creating suspicion?” one observer questioned.
It would be recalled that last week, the Minister announced the killing of five people in Bakassi Peninsula by Nigerian pirates, but did not name the victims. As we went to press, The Post learned that the lone survivor of the crash, late Col. Avi’s driver, was in critical at a hospital in Yaounde.