Cameroon :Fru Ndi orders military barracks out of civilian dwellings

Ni John Fru Ndi

The National Chairman of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) has blamed Government for constructing military barracks within civilian dwellings.

In an interview granted The Post in Bamenda, shortly after returning from Wum, where a man was stabbed by a military man and the military camp burnt down, Fru Ndi, praised the soldiers for restraining from opening fire on the population, considering the colossal damage on ammunitions and their personal property. Read excerpts below:

Mr. Chairman, what is your impression about the Wum incident after visiting the area?

I received countless and frantic calls on Sunday morning that the army barracks in Wum were razed down by an angry mob because a reckless soldier knifed a commercial bike rider. So I hurriedly left Bamenda for Wum to see what happened.In Wum, what I saw was horrible. There is this ill feeling brewing between the population and the Armed Forces.

I don’t know how I can build or instill confidence in these two people.I saw the soldiers whose guns, barrack, vehicles and property were looted and they never shot anybody, despite the fact that one of them stabbed a bike rider to death because of a girl friend, thereby provoking the anger that has been boiling.

It was a grim, painful site.To think that these soldiers, whose personal property were also burnt, could not open fire on the population is a thing to praise. They fired only in the air and they equally fired on the fleshy part of the legs and I did not see shattered bones of the victims. But, that should not mean that the army should use the guns bought with our tax money to kill the population.

The knives, the guns and all what they have used to kill, inflicting pains on the population for 25years in the Northwest, in particular, and Cameroon, as a whole, are bought with taxes payers’ money. No two wrongs make a right.

Quite often, the police, gendarmes and soldiers that kill in the Northwest are speedily protected and transferred, or given some kind of trial that ends in the middle of nowhere, living the population in doubts and disbelieve. That is why the population, quite often, takes the law into their hands, a thing I condemn with all my energy.

Let the authorities look into some of these things when people start raising their voices against ills inflicted on them.While in Wum, I was handed copies of letters that were written to the administration by the elite of the area and political parties, CPDM, SDF & NUDP, and others who do not even belong to any political party, drawing the attention of the administration about the growing insecurity in Wum and Menchum Division as a whole.

These letters were never taken serious as the administration simply ignored them and when things like what happened last Saturday happen, what do you say? This occurrence could be likened to a pent-up-anger which has been suppressed for too long.

We are told guns were stolen.Don’t you see this as a disturbing issue, given that the nation is facing Boko Haram insurgence and these guns could end up in dangerous hands?

I cannot say with exactitude whether arms were carried away or not, but I saw offices that were broken into and the soldiers were complaining of massive looting by the mob. If arms were truly stolen, then, this will pose a great danger to the population, because, with mob action like what happened, there are people who take advantage of the situation and exploit it to their advantage.I still blame the authorities why the letter bearing on insecurity in Wum was not taken seriously. I hope they will not go to sleep again.

Are there other Divisions in the Northwest that are prone to this type of incident?

Yes! Let me refresh your mind with the recent incident in Nkambe Central of Donga Mantung Division, where some three weeks ago, a village prepared to go celebrate the funeral of their Fon, but the SDO of that Division sent police to beat these people preventing them from carrying out this activity. If an administrator behaves in such a way, then, he is a dangerous element, not a peace keeper. In Nso, Kumbo, Bui Division, I am told that there is an unfriendly atmosphere between the soldiers and the locals.

So, I still believe that the time has come for us all to build a State of confidence between the members of the armed forces and the population. If they don’t step in to handle the situation brewing in Nkambe and Nso, I am afraid that when the crisis will blow-off the lid, we might have a worst situation than what happened in Wum.

What do you propose as solution to preempt Such happenings?

it is not today that I have tabled proposals on what the Government should do for us to leave in peace, be it politically, socially and economically. To be more specific on the Wum crisis, I want you to know that it is on record that a long time ago, I wrote proposing that no barrack should be constructed within the town.

The army barrack should be out of town. Those whose barracks can be in town are the police and gendarmes, not soldiers that have been trained to shoot and kill.Take the case in Wum, the army barrack that was vandalised is located at the old Council building and less than 500 metres away, there is a high school nearby with mature girls and boys and you know some of the soldiers are still very young, agile and unmarried.

It is very dangerous that these high school girls and soldiers are parading within the same vicinity. The consequence is that the young men will fight over women and that is what happened in Wum.In the 1980s, I made proposals that Nigeria should build a battalion between Abakiliki and Ekok in the bush. It happened and now the place is a town.

People are doing business there and the place is growing in leaps and bounds.Same thing was done along Bisola and Calabar by Nigerian Government to protect their borders, with Chad, Niger, Togo and others.But my own country is doing just the opposite of what should be done

Source:The Post Newspaper

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