Military in manhunt of Buea cab driver accused of links with separatists

By Fabrice Kehdinga in Buea

A cab driver in Buea of the South West region, Divine Fombutu Fonyam, is reportedly on the run after the military accused him of transporting arms and food to the separatist fighters in Ekona and Muyuka of Fako division.

According to family sources, soldiers have been reigning terror on their home in one of the neighborhoods in the town in a desperate search for the cab driver.

Eyewitnesses hold that soldiers arrested Divine Fombutu Fonyam on Monday September 14, 2020 as he transported passengers in his taxi around the Muea neighbourhood.

According to them, the soldiers stopped the taxi and sent away the passengers. They then accused the driver of transporting arms and food to the separatist fighters. He was also accused of helping to transport the fighters to strategic locations in town where they attacked the military.

Divine Fombutu Fonyam: on the run as soldiers intensify search

The soldiers asked him to show them where the separatist fighters were hiding. Fombutu Fonyam reportedly told them that he was innocent in the face of such accusations and that he did not have anything to do with separatists.

In reaction, The Guardian Post gathered that the soldiers insisted that they were privy to information which reveals his dealings with separatist fighters. They reportedly pointed a gun at him, dragged him out of his car, tortured him to near death and burnt his car to ashes.

Onlookers said the soldiers left the place seemingly convinced that the taxi man was dead. As the victim lay unconscious with blood oozing all over his body, one Good Samaritan took him to the Mount Mary hospital in Buea for treatment. It is reported that he underwent surgical operation and was responding positively to treatment before trouble started again.

When the soldiers learnt that the driver did not die, they launched a manhunt for him. Sensing danger, the taxi driver escaped from the hospital just before a contingent of heavily armed soldiers stormed the place in search of him.

According family sources, the soldiers later turned the heat on the driver’s family, threatening them with arrest if they did not tell them where their son was hiding. In order to avoid slipping into the dragnet of the military, the man’s parents and siblings have abandoned their home and are living with relatives and friends in hiding.

Observers hold that Divine Fombutu Fonyam was very fortunate to have succeeded to escape. Otherwise, he would have had the fate of the Buea-based journalist, Samuel Wazizi, whom the military arrested and accused of providing accommodation to separatist fighters in his farm at Ekona.

He did not live to tell the tale. He was brutally tortured until he died in military custody in Yaounde. Till date, his corpse has not yet been released to his family for burial despite protests by journalists and human rights associations.

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