Key leaders of Southern Cameroon, who are fighting to become a sovereign country to be known as Ambazonia Republic, have rejected the olive branch extended by President Paul Biya of Cameroun. Biya is asking them to put an end to the ongoing insurrection.
President Biya made the call few days ago in Cameroon following the resumption of hostilities as a result of the life jail slammed on Mr Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, the leader of the Ambazonian struggle, alongside nine others by government.
The 10 men were reported to have been forcibly taken last year from Abuja in Nigeria after they won a High Court case supposedly against the Biya government for detention in Cameroon.
A number of people spoken to in Calabar, where a good number of Southern Cameroonians are living as refugees said, they were not going to dialogue with Biya and called on him to release the movement’s leaders as they would be the ones to dialogue with him, if there was need.
Two of the leaders, including the coordinator of the Cameroonian refugees in Cross River State, Pastor Tabichou Afangha and a renowned medical doctor, George Geh, insisted on their independence, which they claimed they got in October 1961.
Afangha said, “The call for dialogue by Biya is a big joke; it is madness. The essence of the dialogue has been grossly abused. Who is he calling to dialogue with? We are Ambazonians?
“We only gained the status of Cameroun when we united with the other parts of the country after the fake union put together at the Fouban conference in East Cameroun. Biya later dissolved that union when he enacted law number 84/01 of February 4, 1984. What we are asking Mr Biya is to implement his own law, the restoration law, which dissolved the illegal merger between La Republique du Cameroon and Southern Cameroon, now Ambazonia.
“Could there have been eruption of violence, killings and destructions if Biya had respected his own law? When he has given life jail to our leaders he wants to dialogue with foes? In Ambazonia we have always been a peaceful people, but he unleashed wanton violence on us,’’ Afangha added.
Also speaking to Daily Trust on Saturday in his office, Dr Geh, who has worked as a medical consultant for different state governments in Nigeria said, “We will not dialogue with Biya. He is extremely dangerous and untrustworthy. We want our independence, which we won in 1961.’’
He said the system in Cameroon was repulsive, repressive and brutish, maintaining that they had suffered suppression and intimidation under the French-controlled region for too long.
“All the schools in Southern Cameroon, an English-speaking territory, are taught in French language or pidgin English and administered by Frenchmen. In the judiciary, they apply French/Napoleon aw instead of the Common Law. The French law states that one is guilty before he is proven otherwise. If you don’t speak French you cannot win any case in Southern Cameroon.’’
Geh disclosed that when they had a plebiscite on whether to join Cameroon or Nigeria, they would have preferred to remain in Nigeria but they feared that the Igbo, who were already domineering, would continue to enslave them; hence they opted for Cameroon. He further explained that it was the United Nations resolution 1608 that granted them independence in 1961. He added that Britain tricked them.
“We were a trusteeship territory managed by Britons, who were supposed to sit with East Cameroun and ensure that our independence was guaranteed. There were three options, but Britain rather said we should decide whether to join other parts. They left out the third option, which was to choose to become an independent country. Britain did not want to lose its investments. France gave them £20million and took over our territory and Britain vamoosed without any preparation for our independence,’’ he alleged.
A female leader who refused to give her name said President Biya should account for her children and siblings who were allegedly slaughtered by forces loyal to him before any form of dialogue. She said the international community should prevail on the Biya government to stop the killing of her people, adding that Ambazonia should be actualised in her lifetime.
But Bishop Nicholas Nyemeck Biten expressed a contrary opinion, saying, “It is a welcome approach to bring back all the people together. It is a long time both national and international press waited for this moment. Now, it is left to know the blueprint of the programme as he said he had given a mandate to the prime minister to meet with all those concerned for a large debate.’’