Cameroun soldiers have been using intimidation tactics to steal smartphones and extort huge sums of money from detained West Cameroonians, according to several sources including insiders in the Cameroun military.
“When we arrest you arbitrarily, we demand for FCFA 100,000 (about $170 USD) for your release,” a top security official guarding a maximum security prison in Kondengui, Cameroun, told me on phone. “We do this to get rich faster. This is our time.”
“Calculate for yourself how much a soldier could make when 10 of your innocent citizens are arrested.”
The security official spoke to me in a joint telephone conversation with another French-speaking colleague working in his department.
This is an open secret here, he confessed. “We also seize their smartphones and sell without notifying them.”
In recent weeks, the Cameroun authorities shut down internet across all of West Cameroon, falsely citing “national security concerns” initiated by millions of English-speaking citizens who use the social media to freely expression their dissatisfaction with the 34-year regime.
Hundreds of arbitrary and silent arrests are made daily. Impromptu searches in citizens’ smartphones are carried out by soldiers in a bid to read or watch contents related to the winning West Cameroon struggle for their freedom.
“Because of fear, citizens do not ask their phones back. So we take them away and sell to make a fortune that goes into our private pockets,” the soldiers confirmed.
Even a released citizen I spoke to claimed his phone was not handed to him after he paid the bribe. “Don’t I have the right to receive messages anymore,” he asked while holding back tears.
The identities of hundreds of arrested citizens are not known by the public. Families wake up every day and discover that at least a member has either been missing, arrested or taken to the Yaounde, the capital of the oppressor.
Culled facebook Tapang Ivo Tanku. .
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