At about 4am July 7, prison guards stormed the cells hosting leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium Leaders in the Kondengui Principal Prison in Yaounde.
Barrister Felix Agbor Balla NKongho and Dr Fontem Aforteka’a Neba were taken unawares when the wardens barged into their cells, ransacking them and confiscating valuables. We gathered the prison guards seized all communication gadgets they found in both jail cells and equally took away all money they found therein.
We also gathered the consortium leaders have been under lock and key since July 7. Visits are said to have been curtailed and the few visitors who are privileged to be given access to the duo, are thoroughly searched down to their underwear. The visitors are allowed to speak with the inmates only in the presence of a multitude of prison guards, we learned.
Sources say the raid on the jail cells was carried out following instructions from the Ministry of Justice. Our source posited government could be trying to look for evidence to use in the on-going trial at the Yaounde Military Tribunal, of the consortium leaders and 71 other Anglophone detainees.
It is alleged the confiscated material were taken to the ‘Department for External Research commonly known by its French language abbreviation DGRE. The security facility beside the Yaounde Municpal Lake is said to be investigating the alleged crimes of the Anglophone detainees. Fears are rife the Consortium leaders may be transferred to secret detention centres of the facility where detainees are said to be tortured and locked up in unmarked poorly ventilated cells.
We also learned last Friday’s raid was not limited to the consortium leaders. Jailed RFI journalist, Ahmed Abba, former mayor of Kolofata, Maitre Harrisou, a certain pastor and four other detainees were reportedly subjected to the same treatment.
It should be recalled that Barrister Felix Agbor Kongho and Dr Fontem Neba were arrested on Tuesday January 17 in Buea and transferred overnight to Yaounde where they were detained in the dungeons of the gendarmerie headquarters for two days. They were transferred to the Kondengui Principal Prison January 20 and were later on charged by the military tribunal with terrorism, rebellion, insurrection, revolution among other related offences. They face a death penalty if found guilty.
Many other Anglophones, including journalists arrested for allegedly committing crimes during the on-going protests against marginalisation of minority English-speaking Cameroonians, are yet to be charged. Such is the case with Atia Tilarious of The Sun newspaper, Amos Fofung of The Guardian Post and Mofor Ndong of Voice of the Voiceless newspaper arrested in Buea on February 9 and transferred to Yaounde. Others include Suh Funwi Paul Vincent, arrested on March 31st, Acha Constantine, Nyalum Gilbert, Nyombella Valery, Atanga Celestine,Mbuh Rene, Rev Fr Andrew Ambeazieh and Nche Benjamin.
Critics are wondering why Government will resort to such crude moves if it is confident it has a good case against the Anglophone leaders.