Sunday, September 23, 2018

Stern security checks for persons leaving, coming into the North West region

Adolphe Lele Lafrique, Governor of the North West Region
The Governor of the North West Region Adolphe Lele Lafrique has said people leaving or getting into the region will be subjected to stern security checks in conformity with the 1990 law on the maintenance of law and order.

In a press release dated September 14, the North West chief executive announced that the stricter security checks follow instructions from the Head of State that more measures be employed by the government to guarantee the collective safety and security of persons in the region following growing acts of killing, kidnappings for ransom, looting of property, destruction of personal documents and generalized vandalism perpetrated against pupils, students, teachers, innocent civilians and the military.  

The governor’s release further stated that during regular search operations at the different check points recently, some persons were found in possession of short guns, cartridges, locally fabricated explosives, drugs and other compromising objects leaving government with the impression that activists are trying to increase violence in the region or extend beyond.

Administrative authorities, Security and Defense forces as well as managers of transport agencies have been charged with the responsibility to implement these measures.

Governor Lele Lafrique warned that private individuals, commercial vehicles or motor bikes caught in the act of transporting terrorists or compromising materials and / or facilitating such transactions shall be taken and treated as terrorists.

The release challenged parents, guardians and family members to convince their  brothers and sisters  enrolled by secessionists and misled to take up arms against the government to surrender their weapons to the nearest administrative, traditional, municipal or religious authority,  promising psychological and logistical support for their eventual reintegration into society.

Those based in the Diaspora were called upon to redirect their resources to socio-economic development and education which the governor said they themselves benefited from, instead of manipulating the population and sponsoring socio-economic hardship and illiteracy.

The Governor extended an invitation to them to join the government in Nation building as true and committed patriots. He reassured the population of their safety while asking civil servants to return to their work places, teachers and pupils to be in school and business people to go about their economic activities.

This press release comes a week after the governor signed a communiqué instituting a dusk-to-dawn curfew for the entire North West Region after some unidentified men dug the road at mile 8 Akum.

By Wanchia Cynthia in Bamenda

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

2018 presidential election: Five candidates reject code of good conduct

During the 7th national consultation forum in Yaounde last Thursday September 6, 2018 between Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) and other stakeholders of the electoral process, some participants refused to endorse the revised code of good conduct used in 2011.
Although the majority of participants in the meeting adopted the 21-point binding rules to guarantee a smooth electoral process for the October 7 vote, there were some agitations particularly among representatives of some presidential candidates who argued that the document was yet another attempt by the Biya regime to muzzle opposition candidates and prevent them from challenging electoral fraud in the name of "peace".
Representatives of five of the nine candidates running for the October 7 election angrily left the meeting hall at the Yaounde conference centre on Thursday without endorsing the code.
Social Democratic Front (SDF) secretary general, Senator Jean Tsomelou who represented the leading opposition’s flag bearer at the consultation forum together with the representatives of Akere Muna, Maurice Kamto, Ndifor Afanwi Frankline (Prophet Frank) and Cabral Libii all rejected the document.
According to Lasha Kingsley, Prophet Frank's Communication and Press Manager, the presidential candidate’s representative at the forum could not endorse the document because ELECAM introduced the G20 which is a group of twenty opposition party leaders supporting CPDM presidential candidate, Paul Biya. Lasha said their representative like others who also brushed off the code saw that “there was something fishy with the document”.
But ELECAM chairman, Enow Abrams Egbe said the code of conduct is document meant to implemented in order to give the election
“We are not working particular political party. We are working for the electoral process of our country. The ambition of Elections Cameroon is to give credibility to our electoral process and we think that when we take an act, we try to see how it can accommodate all interests,” Enow Abrams said.
During the one day forum, members of the Electoral Board of ELECAM exchanged views with some 500 stakeholders including of the electoral process including legalized political parties, candidates for presidential election, civil society organizations, private and public media under the theme “The role of election stakeholders for a successful election”.
The holding of Consultations between ELECAM and other stakeholders of the electoral process is provided for by Section 11 (2) of Law No.2012/001 of 19 April 2012 relating to the Electoral Code.
According to ELECAM, the 7th National Consultation Forum had as main objective to appease the socio-political climate on the eve of the presidential election, by consolidating democratic principles and dialogue between stakeholders of the electoral process, while improving their competence and performance for a better appropriation and a harmonised comprehension of texts and practices, during and after the vote.
At press time, the final document which is a revised edition of the code of good conduct used during the 2011 presidential election was not yet accessible to the media. The communication unit of ELECAM promised to send us a once available.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Ntumfor Nico Halle eulogises Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General

No honest human being would gain say the unrivaled and unequaled legacy bequeathed by this peace and justice colossus who has passed away like a candle in the wind. I wished him more years.
Barrister Nico Halle

The entire world mourns Kofi Annan not for the wealth he amassed for himself but for the love and care he embraced for humanity. Emblematic indeed.

I sincerely admired the temerity and honest manner in which he brokered peace in the potentially explosive Bakassi conflict pitting Cameroon and Nigeria. It takes love, justice, wisdom and savvy to settle such a complex and very high profile crisis. This for me was a locus classicus to be emulated by other nations that have been shredded by senseless wars.

I had even prayed that he could show concern for the Anglophone crisis and apply the same wisdom and objectivity he did in the Bakassi palavar but this did not happen. Man proposes but god disposes.

The first African to occupy such a highly coverted office leaving behind an unmatched track record. The Nobel Peace Prize crowned his cogent attachment to peace and reconciliation.

This breed of human beings is in very short supply. Oh i wish more of Kofi Annan could be found in Africa and the world for god's people to live in peace.

Peace is what the world badly needs now. for peace to exist there must be genuine love, justice, equity, respect for the rule of law, transparency, accountability, equality, honesty, truth, respect for human rights and liberties, patriotism, tolerance, forgiveness and above all the fear of the lord which is the beginning of wisdom.

As a peace crusader in my small corner i am moved by what Kofi Annan gave to humanity to couch this short homage for an icon i quietly admired.

May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace for he lived an accomplished and fulfilled life here on earth. May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob take his gentle soul. A dieu sir.

By Barrister Nico Halle

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Who killed Rev. Fr Alexander Sob?

Was the former Catholic Education Secretary felled by stray bullets or slain for his unflinching stance that schools should run unperturbed in the NW and SW?
Late Fr Alexander Nougi Sop

There has been wailing across the town of Buea and beyond following news of the brutal killing of the former Catholic Education Secretary of the Buea diocese, Reverend Father Alexander Sob Nougi.
The prelate was shot in Muyuka, Fako Division of the South West region on Friday July 20, 2018, reports say. Until his demise, Fr Sob was serving as Parish Priest of Sacred Heart Parish in Bomaka, Buea.
The Catholic Church confirmed the death of the charismatic priest Saturday but did not state the exact circumstances leading to his demise.  
Some reports have it that the prelate who was in Muyuka supposedly to visit his family met his doom from stray bullets following a gun exchange between security forces and Anglophone separatist fighters while other sources say he was eliminated following his stance that schools should run unperturbed in the crisis-hit North West and South West regions. NewsWatch could not however independently verify the actual cause of Fr. Sob’s gruesome killing.
A sister publication, The Guardian Post gathered reported that Rev Fr. Sob, who was due to defend his PhD thesis in weeks, had just left the University of Buea where he gave part- time lectures in the faculty of Education, before taking off for Muyuka, a locality where he lived a majority of his days on earth.
A gun exchange between security forces and Anglophone separatist fighters in the town of the Muyuka on that fateful Friday saw Fr Sob emerge as one of the biggest casualties. An account said the humble priest was shot twice on his chest while in his car, which was parked beside the main road in the town Muyuka.
Fr. Sob was however later confirmed dead by medics at a Muyuka hospital where he was rushed to. Father Sob’s death has been received with shock and consternation. Since Friday, there has been outrage on the social media with thousands pouring out glowing tributes to the late clergy, and cursing those who may have been involved in one way or the other in his brutish murder.
Rev Fr. Alexander Nougi Sob who served for years as Catholic Education secretary of the Buea diocese was from a humble background. His father, to note, was a catholic primary school teacher who served the church dedicatedly for more than 40 years but retired poor. Having grown in the household of a catholic primary school teacher and seeing how difficult it was to survive, Fr. Sob was of the conviction that the best gift to offer teachers is to enable them live a life of maximum standards. To this, he fought tooth and nail to better the salary situation of teachers serving in schools across the Buea Diocese during his days as education secretary.

The Man

Fr Sob began his journey to priest- hood in 1985 when he got admission into Bishop Rogan College, the oldest minor seminary. He graduated from Bishop Rogan in 1992 and then moved to the St Thomas Aquinas Major semi- nary in Bambui, North West region. He left the seminary in 2001 and taught English Language at St Joseph College, Sasse, before later being transferred to the Minor Seminary in Efok, near Obala in the Centre region. Between 2007 and 2011, Fr. Sob was principal of Regina Pacis College, REPACOL, Mutengene in the South West region. While at REPACOL, Fr Sob, who later defended a Master’s degree thesis in Educational Foundations and Administration at the University of Buea, registered the best commercial results for the college at both the ordinary and Advance level. He was then catapulted in 2012 to the position of Education secretary for the Diocese of Buea. Fr Sob has a unique story as a priest. He had his ordination delayed for five years but was finally ordained priest at Obala in 2005 while he served as Discipline Master at the Efok Minor Seminary.
It was Father Sob who fought day and night for the creation of a credit union by the catholic diocese of Buea where teachers could do their savings. Sob was often quoted as saying the credit union with a membership of over 1,000 back then in 2015, has as vision to create, empower, dignify and sustain communities where poverty is eradicated through sharing for common good.
The late Fr Sob, it should be said, was a real epitome of versatility. Until his demise last week, he co-anchored a programme on CRTV’s Mount Cameroon FM in Buea, where he endeared himself to millions of the radio station’s listeners as a result of fine voice and creative dexterity. Authorities of the Buea Diocese have said they will announce his funeral pro- gramme in the days ahead.
Adapted from The Guardian Post daily newspaper

Senegalese envoy dies in Cameroon

Late Vincent Badji

Yaounde, Cameroon - The outgoing Senegalese Ambassador to Cameroon, Mr Vincent Badji, is dead, state broadcaster CRTV reported.
CRTV said that Mr Badji died of heart attack while watching television at his Yaoundé residence on Sunday.
The diplomat who had come to the end of his three-year diplomatic mission to Cameroon, was due to leave Yaoundé for the Vatican as his country’s ambassador to the Holy See.

Diplomatic practice

Mr Badji had been granted farewell audiences by Cameroon state authorities in conformity with diplomatic practice.
House Speaker Cavaye Yeguie Djibril on June 18 received the diplomat while the president of the Senate, Mr Marcel Niat Njifenji, also held talks with him on July 4.
The envoy's last public outing was when he was received by Prime Minister Philemon Yang on July 5.

The agreements

Talking to the press after the meeting with the Prime Minister, the ambassador described the ties between Cameroon and Senegal as excellent.
He said some of the high points of the cooperation were the agreements that were ready for signing; one of which is the exemption of visas for holders of official passports, decentralised cooperation and higher education.
Yaoundé, Mr Badji said, was expected to host the Cameroon-Senegal Joint Commission this year and he remained optimistic that officials of the two countries would sign the agreements during the session.
Courtesy The East African

Minister's claim that Cameroon has no jailed journalists is completely wrong

By Amindeh Blaise Atabong*

Yaounde, Cameroon - Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Minister of Communication, has once more maintained that no journalist is detained in Cameroon or has been arrested for their work, even as there is a plethora of impeccable evidence to prove the contrary. Tchiroma, who assumes the responsibility of government spokesman, has repeatedly claimed Cameroon is among the freest countries on the continent in terms of press freedom, and that journalists go about their job freely, without government reprisal. People wouldn't even believe him if he said the truth, at least in the last two years.
A mountain of evidence points to two facts: Journalists have been arrested and detained for months for regular journalism practice and Cameroon has been ranked very low by different press freedom perception indexes.
Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Minster of Communication in one of his press outings.

On May 2, 2017, Minister Tchiroma declared over the state broadcaster CRTV that no journalist was held in Cameroon for their work. Much earlier on February 15, 2017, he told the Committee to Protect Journalists that government was completely transparent and people could easily speak up their minds. Tchiroma was categorical that no journalist was in prison in Cameroon and that journalist should not “pretend to be arrested for their work.” He had made same claims to reporters during a press conference in the nation’s capital Yaounde, prior to the subsequent declarations.
The government minister may have gotten his fact wrong for one reason – most journalists who are arrested and detained are usually not formally charged over long periods. This is in gross violation of portions of Section 119 of Cameroon’s Criminal Procedure Code which stipulate that the time allowed for remand in custody shall not exceed 48 hours, renewable
But by the time Tchiroma was making his claim, Radio France Internationale's Hausa service reporter, Ahmed Abba had been held incommunicado for close to three years after being arrested in Maroua for covering the activities of the terrorist group Boko Haram. He was later charged of “non-denunciation of terrorism” and “laundering of the proceeds of terrorist acts,” and sentenced to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges. Only an appeal saw his release in late 2017.

Arrests of journalists and confirmations

On February 9, 2017, three journalists were arrested in Buea: Amos Fofung Nkonchoh, South West/Littoral bureau chief of The Guardian Post daily newspaper; Atia Tilarious Azohnwi, political desk editor of The Sun weekly newspaper; and Mofor Ndong, publisher of Voice of the Voiceless newspaper. They were first detained at the Molyko and Buea Town police stations in Buea, before being transferred to the judicial police headquarters in Yaounde. The journalists were subsequently transferred to the Yaounde central prison in Kondengui.
Authorisation issued by Yaounde Military Tribunal to visit journalist detained in prison
After the journalists were arrested and detained, Minister Tchiroma still claimed no journalists was in detention for their work. Yet, by February 20, 2017, an official government body - the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF) - had declared that at least five journalists were under arrest.
When this reporter approached authorities to ascertain the whereabouts of the journalists, the military prosecutor of the Yaounde Military Tribunal issued him an authorisation on July 13, 2017, to visit one of the journalists, Atia Tilarious Azohnwi, in prison. This attested to the effective detention of the journalist. Upon visiting the detention facility, this reporter realised at least four other journalists to include Thomas Awah Junior of Aghem Messenger magazine, Hans Achumba of Jakiri Community Radio and Tim Finnian of Life Time newspaper were also under detention. 
Discharge order of journalist issued by prison administrators
This reporter visited the detained journalists on at least three occasions when they were held. On one occasion, journalist Amos Fofung told this reporter he was really never ‘arrested’ in the first place. “I was invited to give a statement and return home but when I got there, the police commissioner told me it was late and I could only return the next day. But it never happened until months passed by,” Amos narrated. He disclosed that it is difficult to disassociate his arrest from his work.
Since the arrest and detention of the journalists, this reporter has addressed two correspondences to the minister of communication to find out if he still stood by his claims. But the minister would not respond to any. Before the close of the year 2017, some of the detained journalists were released on separate occasions, after having spent over six months in prison ‘awaiting’ trial which never came. While others stayed back, this reporter obtained release orders issued by penitentiary authorities for some of the freed journalists.
After some of the journalists were released, Minister Tchiroma still had time to tweet on September 20, 2017: “In Cameroon, there's no risk in practising journalism or voicing one's political views.” Tchiroma’s statement is not factual as there are so many pressures and constraints on journalists and most are too intimidated to voice out threats to their practice. The minister also basks on the multiplicity of fragile media organs to mean press freedom.
One of two correspondences addressed to the Minister of Communication still awaiting response

Cameroon ranks low

Minister Tchiroma may be among the isolated number of Cameroonians who hold that there is press freedom in the country. Cameroon finds itself at the bottom position of different press freedom rankings. On Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom index, Cameroon is ranked 129 out of 180 with a score of 40.92. Don’t think the situation was any better the previous years.
Freedom of journalists in Cameroon is also under threat. Freedom House rates Cameroon as ‘Not Free’ in terms of press freedom. In Cameroon, journalists’ best effort can often be thwarted by government repression, unlike the ungrounded claims made by the government spokesman.
This story was first published in the print edition of NewsWatch newspaper on Monday July 23, 2018.
*Amindeh Blaise Atabong is an investigative journalist based in Yaounde, Cameroon. He has reported extensively on cross-border conflicts, civil unrest, elections, governance and other topics from Cameroon, Central Africa Republic and Nigeria.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

UN grants HOFNA Cameroon Special Consultative Status

Bamenda,Cameroon--Community-based Non-governmental and non-profit making organization, Hope for the Needy Association (HOFNA) Cameroon has been awarded a Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations; a recognition that allows the Bamenda-based organisation to communicate directly with the NGO branch of the UN.
Christelle Bay Chongwain, Executive Director of HOFNA

The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations at its 2018 Regular Session, held from January 29 to February 7, 2018 made the recommendation which was endorsed at ECOSOC’s Coordination and Management Meeting held on April 16-18, 2018.

According to Christelle Bay Chongwain, Executive Director of HOFNA, the status that has been granted the organisation four years after they applied is a milestone in the journey of the nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping the most underprivileged and marginalized youth in Cameroon achieve lasting positive changes in their lives.

“This status is like a voice calling on us to do more; to empower more women and girls in the communities that we serve,” Christelle Bay told NewsWatch.

After taking part in the post 2015 development agenda, mobilising women and youth groups in the communities, getting their assessment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and their priorities for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), HOFNA had hoped to the UN General Assembly of that year but the dream was quashed for lack of accreditation.

Christelle Bay explained that attending the United Nations general Assembly at that time would have offered them an opportunity to join their voices on a global platform to present that which women in the rural communities wanted and not to have attended the GA motivated HOFNA to continue pushing for the status which was granted last month.

With the status granted, HOFNA can now communicate directly with the NGO branch of the United Nations and host side events during UN General Assemblies. The organisation has to also designate its representatives to UN Headquarters in New York as well as to the duty stations in Geneva and Vienna.

“Anything that concerns the UN we have a special place to present our views. This is actually an opportunity for us to represent the voices of the women and girls in those rural communities at the UN platform and also an opportunity to get more people engaged in the work HOFNA is doing in Cameroon. It entails a lot and I think that it is actually the beginning of bigger work,” Christelle said.

Education for all

HOFNA was created in 2010 and registered in 2012 in the North West region with base in Bamenda. On creation HOFNA’s primary activities centred around poverty alleviation, access to education for all, human right’s education, environmental conservation, sustainable agriculture, youth and women empowerment as well as hygiene and sanitation.
With a mission of helping poor and vulnerable people in society to achieve positive and lasting changes in their lives, HOFNA has over the years succeeded in creating a positive impact in society, especially in the domain of eradicating gender-based violence through training, education and sensitization of stakeholders in the domain.

It is worthy to recall here that since its creation, HOFNA has succeeded in training over 30 traditional rulers and traditional title holders in Donga Mantung division on responding to and preventing gender-based violence.  During the training emphasis was placed on the prevention child trafficking and its attendant ills.
HOFNA saying No to child, early and forced marriages 

In the same vein, over 100 taxi drivers, bike riders, barbers and hair dressers were drilled on how to respond and prevent child trafficking and gender-based violence in their various communities in the North West region.

In order to drive home their message of fighting gender-based violence, HOFNA used theatre and debates to reach out to over 6000 students, parents and teachers. The participants were sensitized on child trafficking, the ills of early and forced marriages and other forms of school-related gender-based violence.

HOFNA has been able to curb teenage pregnancies and school dropouts by encouraging over 200 girls to stay in school over the past 6 years through leadership development programs and scholarship awards. Equally the NGO has over the years donated benches, textbooks, pens, drinking pales, charts, didactic materials and materials for extracurricular activities that are benefitting over 500 children in 5 schools in rural communities in the North West Region.

Preaching tolerance through poetry

In an era of religious extremism, HOFNA has been able to level the ground by engaging over 3000 young people to use poetry, oral literature and the unifying power of music to promote religious tolerance in Cameroon.

HOFNA in a bid to alleviate poverty has equally engaged over 200 youth and women in agriculture as a business. They have been trained on sustainable agriculture best practices for income generation through their Certified Coffee Nursery Initiative and the HOFNA Farm that has been established.
Girls take part in a HOFNA organised boot camp

HOFNA’s activities in diverse domains have impacted positively on the society. This has been so because HOFNA has help vulnerable people acquire self-reliance development through the participatory approach.  This has been possible due to the fact that HOFNA implements its activities using the sustainable community-based approach.  This approach which uses low technology is sustainable and motivates communities at the grassroots level to be propellers of their own socio-economic development. The overall impact is that the populations have a say in the policies that govern them and their families. In this wise their socio-economic development is community-driven and achieves the greatest good for the greatest majority.

 It is worthy to note that along the years HOFNA has worked with UNDP, Albany Associates and over 15 Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, from Sub-Saharan Africa to develop an application that guides CSOs and individuals plan and run effective campaigns to prevent/counter violent extremism.

With all these palpable benchmarks, it is therefore not surprising that HOFNA that plans to run a girls’ empowerment centre in the North West region gained Special Consultative Status to the United Nations ECOSOC.

By Ndi Eugene Ndi (First published in NewsWatch N° 022 of Wednesday May 16, 2018)