By Cyprian Ntiamba Obi Ntui in Yaounde
The General Coordinator of the Observatory for Societal Development, ODS, has accused some Cameroonians, other local Non Governmental And International organizations of trying to kill the morale of Cameroon’s defence forces by persistently accusing the latter of committing acts of massacre in the course of discharging their republican duties.
Lilian Koulou Engoulou was reacting to the spiral of condemnations on the nation’s defence forces, especially the military after the Ngarbuh incident in which reports say up to 24 villagers were killed by Cameroon’s defence forces.
He went on to condemn, in strong terms media reporters, local and international organizations that carried reports accusing Cameroon defence forces of committing acts of massacre by killing innocent women and children in Ngarbuh village, in Ndu, Donga-Mantung division of the North West region on February 14, 2020.
Hear him, “The Observatory of Societal Development, faithful to its mission of fighting against inequalities and defending the rights of populations and users, takes note of the positions and other unfounded accusations of certain NGOs, media, political actors and the civil society, reporting the massacre of civilians including women and children in the locality of Ngarbuh Department of Donga-Mantung North West region on February 14, 2020.
The Observatory wishes to emphasize to deplorer it with the greatest force, this activism of bad alois whose goal is to tarnish the image of Cameroon and to undermine the morale of the Cameroonian defense and security forces, whose mission has always been to protect the integrity of the national territory and the populations.”
The ODS Cordinator went on to accuse these bodies of propagating information without facts to prove, despite disclaimers from the Ministers of Defence and that of Information.
It would be recalled that the International Organization of La Francophonie is among those that wrote to condemn the Ngarbuh incident. So to was the British Minister for Africa, James Duddridge who said the United Kingdom was appalled by the killing of civilians, including children in Ngarbur village.
In a strongly worded letter to the authorities in Yaounde, the Minister called for restrain and urged the Yaounde government to pursue the road for inclusive dialogue which would lead to a reduction of violence and restoration of peace in the two English speaking regions of Cameroon.
“I’m appalled by the killing of civilians, including children, on Friday 14 February in Ngarbur in the North-West Region of Cameroon. My thoughts and deep condolences are with the families and friends of those killed.
There must be an urgent and transparent investigation into what happened, and those responsible must be held accountable,” Minister James Duddridge stated.
He added that the UK continues to support all credible peace building initiatives and remains ready to work with the Government of Cameroon and international partners to bring peace to the North West and South West (Anglophone) regions.
This was a follow up to a similar communiqué addressed to the Yaounde government by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Patricia Scotland, who stated that no violence against children and women is justifiable.
In a press statement she issued on February 18, 2020 the Commonwealth Secretary General condemned what she also termed the massacre of civilians in Ngarbur.
She called for an impartial investigation so that the perpetrators of the act could be identified and held accountable.
The Commonwealth Scribe expressed remorse that the attack on the village left 23 people dead, the majority of them children.
“I strongly condemn the recent killings of civilians, including women and children in the north west of Cameroon on 14 February, 2020. We noted the government announcement that there would be a full investigation into the incident. We encourage the government to conduct an impartial investigation, for perpetrators to be held accountable and for results of the investigation to be made public,” Madam Scotland harped.
She added, “The Commonwealth strongly condemns all forms of violence, and in particular, the loss of lives of innocent civilians including women and children.”
Madam Scotland went on to remind the Yaounde authorities that Cameroon is a noted member of the Human Rights Council, and as such should be mindful of General Comment 13 to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to freedom from all forms of violence.
This is underscored by the understanding that no violence against children is justifiable; all violence against children is preventable.
On the way forward out of the lingering Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, the Commonwealth Secretary General said she will continue to convey concerns to the government of Cameroon.
“The Commonwealth stands ready to support solutions that will address the root causes of this conflict that has dragged on since 2016,” the Secretary General concluded in the press statement. Local NGOs have reacted in a similar way. So Lilian Koulou’s ODS happens to be among the few who see the situation in Cameroon differently.