Retracing Amba war against journalists.

Six years on, the armed conflict in the North West and South West Regions is still raging on, with disturbing bloodletting being the order of the day.

While thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands internally displaced, journalists and other media practitioners have also been bearing the brunt of atrocities committed by Ambazonia fighters. Despite efforts by Yaounde to bring an end to the armed conflict in the crisis-hit Anglophone Regions, the guns are still smoking and many more people are dying in what a majority say is a senseless war.

The separatists, who initially claimed they were liberators intending to see their people freed from the shackles of marginalisation have now turned their guns on the same people they claim to be seeking to liberate. The supposed liberators are now seen as oppressors. 

Ambazonia fighters have been killing innocent civilians and kidnapping others for ransom. Journalists and other media practitioners have also been victims of Amba atrocities. Some have been killed and others kidnapped for ransom. 

In the midst of this unfortunate situation, analysts say it is time for the belligerents to put the lives of the common man first and end the war. In this edition of our dossier, we zoom on journalists who have suffered in the hands of Amba fighters, either having been killed, kidnapped or tortured.

Anye Nde Nsoh

Since Sunday May 7, the media family in the country has been in shock and disbelief, mourning one of their young, dynamic and bourgeoning colleagues, Anye Nde Nsoh, shot to death in cold blood in Bamenda by gunmen. 

Nsoh was killed in Ntarikon, Bamenda II Subdivision, at about 9 p.m. by gunmen suspected to be separatist fighters in the restive North West Region. He becomes the first journalist to be shot dead in the restive Anglophone Regions, since the crisis morphed into armed conflict six years ago. 

A released issued by the Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, of Mezam Division, Simon Emile Mooh, declared categorically that Nsoh was “mercilessly assassinated” by “a group of armed terrorists”. 

Nsoh was the North West and West Regions Bureau Chief of The Advocate newspaper. He was also a passionate sports reporter at Dream FM Radio in Bamenda and correspondent with the online sports news portal, Kick442.com. 

The bullet fired by the gunmen hit the journalist on the chest in the wake of sporadic gunshots. He collapsed and died moments later as he was being rushed to the Bamenda Regional Hospital.

Nsoh had stepped out of the snack bar where he spent his weekends to do animation at night, to buy batteries for a microphone. 

When Nsoh was hit by a bullet, others around the snack that had been surrounded by the gunmen thought he had rather prostrated to avoid being hit by a stray bullet. It was moments after that they discovered he was bleeding and gasping for breath. 

Nsoh’s corpse was deposited at the Bamenda Regional Hospital mortuary. A funeral programme that has been circulating indicates he will be buried this Saturday. 

It is still not clear if the journalist was targeted or he was accidently caught by bullet during the shootings by Amba fighters. 

However, onetime separatist kingpin, Capo Daniel, in a social media outing, claimed that the act was mistakenly committed by their foot soldiers. He is said to have just returned from Yaounde to establish documents for a new job he had picked up in Bamenda and was due to start work on May 9.

Nsoh was member of the Bamenda Chapter of the Cameroon Association of English-speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ. The orphan was also Media Officer of the Cameroon Amputee Football Association, CAMPUTEE. 

Anye had undying passion for sports reporting. He covered the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON, in Cameroon, making a name for himself. He leaves behind a daughter, family, friends and colleagues to mourn him.

Ambe Macmillan Awa

Another journalist who has suffered in the hands of Amba fighters in the restive Anglophone Regions is Ambe Macmillan Awa. 

The Bamenda-based journalist cum blogger, was kidnapped Thursday February 21, 2017, and whisked to the unknown. 

Ambe was at the time the North West Chapter President of the Cameroon Association of English-Speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ. He was only released after spending several hours in Amba fighters’ dungeon.

Ambe, who was also Secretary General of the North West Chapter of the Cameroon Journalists' Trade Union, CJTU, was released “unharmed” and reportedly without paying any ransom.

It is not clear what prompted the kidnappers to set him free but social media advocacy likewise pressure from national and international journalism associations and trade unions as well as human rights groups and society organisations were sufficiently credited.

His kidnap had triggered an avalanche of condemnation from journalists, national and international journalism associations, trade unions and human rights groups which were unanimous that “journalism is not a crime” and that journalists like doctors should not be targets during crisis period. 

To recall is the fact that the CJTU, CAMASEJ and other journalism associations in separate statements had condemned his kidnap and called for his immediate “unconditional release”. 

The statements were amplified by the Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, the Association of Christian Journalists of Nigeria, amongst others which insisted that Ambe Macmillan Awa should be freed unharmed.

Ambe told colleagues after his release that the “gunmen” accused him, while in their captivity of advocating school resumption. He also revealed that he was not physically harmed during the process and that he did not pay any ransom.

“I sincerely thank all of you for relentlessly praying and advocating my release. I'm just so short of words. I thank everybody, from my family to church members and media colleagues. Never knew I meant this much to you all. I appreciate the media solidarity thrown behind me nationally and internationally. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Let the past be the past. The practice of good journalism continues,” Ambe had said upon release. 

Asong Sylvester 

Despite his age, Amba fighters in 2017 tortured Kumba-based CAMNEWS correspondent, the late Asongu Sylvester Asapngu, who was popularly known as Asong Sylvester.

Asong was removed from a vehicle along the Kumba-Mbonge-Ekondo-Titi-Mundemba road around Mbonge Subdivision by gun-toting Amba fighters.

The late journalist was returning from Mundemba, Divisional Headquarters of Ndian in the troubled South West Region, where he had covered National Day celebration. 

The celebration, it should be recalled, had been ‘banned’ by separatist fighters in the two restive Anglophone Regions. The gunmen identified Asong as having been among those who had violated their National Day celebration boycott orders. 

The Amba fighters had accused Asong of covering the celebration to report stories that favour the Yaounde regime and the fact that there was normalcy in the North West and South West Regions. 

Asong was forced to sleep on the ground with his stomach. The gunmen also extorted the sum of 100,000 FCFA from the late Asong Sylvester before letting him continue his journey back to Kumba without a franc in his pocket. 

The veteran journalist, it should be said, had over two decades experience before dying in the afternoon of January 9, 2022, in the Baptist Hospital Mutengene. 

He succumbed to injuries he had sustained during a road accident at Bombe near Mbalangi, along the Kumba-Buea highway

The native of Bellua-Lebang in Fontem Subdivision, Lebialem Division of the South West Region died in his late 60s. He was an active and daring reporter who was always ready to journey to any event site. 

Asong Sylvester was a good mixer, reliable, humble and very friendly; attitudes which earned him a lot of news sources and made him a prolific human interest story reporter. 

He was a corner-stone journalist very focused on societal news as could be testified by his strings on the state-run biweekly tabloid, Cameroon Insider and the national bilingual dailyCameroon Tribune.

George Etoh 

Another journalist who today lives with a never-to-be-forgotten memory of Amba acts of violence on journalists is Bamenda-based correspondent of The Horizon newspaper, George Etoh. He narrowly cheated death in the hands of separatist fighters in Benakuma, headquarters of Menchum Valley Subdivision in Menchum Division of the North West Region.

Etoh and other colleagues were travelling to the administrative unit alongside Menchum SDO for the installation of the Divisional Officer of Menchum Valley, when their vehicle came under serious attack by separatists. 

The attack left the journalist severely wounded. He was airlifted through a military helicopter for emergency treatment at the Military Hospital in Douala.

Etoh received bullets fired by Amba fighters on both of his legs as well as his hand. One of his fingers was later cut off as a result of the injuries sustained during the attack. 

Mary Namondo Motimbe

The female staff of the Bonakanda Community Radio in Fako Division of the South West Region, was abducted on September 3, 2019. 

Her suffering and trauma in the hands of Amba fighters are terrifying because on that day, she was on air when the gunmen forcefully accessed the broadcast facility, firing indiscriminately. They then set the radio ablaze and took the journalist into the wild.

It took pressure from the press family, civil society and other international organisations, for her to emerge from the wild.

The separatist fighters equally set the radio station ablaze on that day, leaving the media organ’s thousands of listeners depressed.

Prince Moni Banjo Masssongo

He too is another journalist who went through hell in the hands of Amba fighters. His case is even more disturbing because it happened at a time when he was going to bury his father who was the traditional ruler of Kotto Barombi village in Mbonge Subdivision.

This happened on April 24, 2021. Amba fighters abducted him from among mourners around the village of Small Ekombe. He was taken into the wild alongside other relatives.

The vehicle that was transporting the corpse was set ablaze alongside belongings of those who were travelling to bury the traditional ruler. 

When the incident happened, reports emerged then that Amba fighters had demanded for ransom. Amba fighters are said to have asked for a ransom of 500,000 FCFA for the journalist’s release.

It took tones of condemnation from journalism associations like the Cameroon Journalists’ Trade Union, CJTU, and the press for Prince Moni Banjo to be released. The journalist works with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education. 

Talla Agha Christopher

Talla Agha Christopher, who is a journalist cum Barrister-at-law, has had his own share of suffering in the hands of Amba fighters.

He was abducted by separatist fighters when he travelled alongside Prince Moni Banjo Mossongo, to bury his father in Barombi Kotto village in Mbonge Subdivision.

Talla was among those who were taken into the bush and molested.  Though he was released at nightfall same April 24, 2021, the journalist and lawyer was greatly traumatised. Talla has worked for several newspapers among them, Eden and The Sun.

Doh Bertrand Nua

Doh Bertrand Nua, the Managing Editor of The Guardian Post, went through hell in the hands of Amba fighters while covering the February 9, 2020, twin polls in Manyu Division of the South West Region.

At that time, he was Coordinating Editor of The Median Newspaper. Till date, Doh continues to be grateful to God and for officers of the Rapid Intervention Battalion, BIR, whom he said, risked their lives to rescue him from the coughing guns of Amba fighters.

“Thank you Lord for another chance to live. God bless and protect the BIR commandos who risked it all for us,” he had written after recollecting what would have been the end of his life when Amba fighters opened fire from both ends of the road on a vehicle which he boarded for Mamfe, Manyu Division of the South West Region after covering the twin elections. 

After leaving Bachou Ntai, Doh recalled that they were first attacked at Babensi I village near Talangaye in Nguti Subdivision. On that day, the fighters were ready to kill, they had felled trees and blocked the road before pouring bullets incessantly. 

Doh recounts that the “deafening gunshots lasted some 45 minutes as the determined fire-power displayed by no-nonsense BIR protectors did not in any way hold the defiant Amba boys back from firing at us”.

Till today, he maintains that: “Only God alone knows how I was saved from the cartridges that riddled our car. The glass of the vehicle’s front seat where I sat was completely shattered. The broken glasses fell on me. Anything could happen to me at this juncture as more cartridges kept pouring on our car. I had just a BIR helmet that was surrendered to me by one of the BIR drivers at Nguti”.

His account of what happened holds that: “The helmet prevented the scores of cartridge grains from penetrating my skull. I also had a small black laptop bag with me which I used to cover the damaged door glass. The bag was perforated on severally spots by cartridge grains from the ‘Amba Boys’ who were determined to spill blood. Without the laptop bag, many cartridges would have penetrated into my body.”

“Panic-stricken as I was, I shouted prayers like a born again Christian asking for another chance to live from God Almighty. I didn't even know if I was still breathing but kept shouting like a newborn exposed to excruciating cold weather or better still undergoing the pains of circumcision”.

In frustration, Doh said he “almost opened the car door to meet the BIR elements who were displaying their combat know-how outside for better protection but was interrupted severally with words of caution from the driver and a CRTV colleague”.

BIR soldiers, he also recounted, “rushed me like a baby into one of the nearby armoured cars that was strategically stationed to cover our car”. The convoy succeeded to reach Buea, he recounted, thanks to military reinforcement.

Returning to his base in Yaounde, Doh underwent scanning and counselling at the Baptist Hospital Etoug-Ebe. He was in deep trauma for two weeks. It took the journalist over a year to fully recover from what he went through.

Frederick Takang

In May 2018, Frederick Takang, journalist and correspondent for BBC Afrique in Bamenda, was attacked by gunmen suspected to be Amba fighters, who made away with valuable items.

The journalist, who also works for La Nouvelle Expression newspaper, is said to have been attacked at night with the gunmen making way with his laptop, some money and working equipment given to him by the BBC Afrique; recorder, microphone and headphones.

But Frederick Takang’s ordeal in the hands of Ambazonia fighters was far from over. On Thursday May 26, 2022, he was abducted by Ambazonia fighters in Bamenda, North West Region. The fighters took the journalist to an unknown destination, together with his car. 

In a statement announcing the kidnapping of Frederick Takang, the National Syndicate of Cameroon Journalists, CJTU, had said: “Information reaching the North West Chapter of the Cameroon Journalists’ Trade Union (CJTU) indicate that one of its members, Frederick Takang, has been abducted in Bamenda. The Correspondent for the BBC World Service was abducted this Thursday 26 May 2022 in the early hours of the evening and taken to an unknown destination together with his silver Camry car…”.

However, hours after his kidnap, Takang is said to have outsmarted the kidnappers and escaped. The fighters are said to have kept his car and till date nothing has been heard about it. 

Fame Bunyui Ayiseh

Yet, another journalist who has suffered in the hands of Amba fighters is Fame Bunyui Ayiseh, a journalist with Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV.

In the night of Saturday March 13, 2021, she was kidnapped by Amba fighters in Buea, South West Region. 

The mother of three was kidnapped a few metres from her Mile 18 residence in Buea. Fame Bunyui was returning home when she was grabbed by separatist fighters, who then drove her to an unknown destination. 

The kidnappers are said to have demanded a 10 million FCFA ransom in exchange for her release. Many hours after Fame Bunyui Ayiseh’s kidnap, an 82-second video, which made rounds on social media, showed her executing instructions from her kidnappers.

In the video, the journalist could be heard making a distress call for her relatives to send money to the kidnappers in exchange for her life.

While crying for help, Fame Bunyui said: “Please send the money as soon as possible if not you will find my corpse here in the bush”.

The kidnappers, speaking in Pidgin English, ordered Fame Bunyui Ayiseh to tell her husband and other relatives of the pains she was being subjected to, so they could quickly pay the ransom.

The kidnappers showed a deep wound inflicted on Fame Bunyui with the use of a knife while she was blindfolded. 

In the video, Fame Bunyui mentioned that “…I am in the bush here in Ekona…”, some kilometres away from Buea, the regional capital of the South West Region.

Meanwhile, around midnight on Sunday March 14, 2021, Bunyui Ayiseh was released under unclear circumstances. 

Iyabo Becky Jeme

It was in the wee hours of Wednesday January 6, 2020, that the media sector in the country was taken aback when news of the death of Iyabo Rebecca Jeme, popularly known as Iyabo Becky Jeme, broke. 

She was the Divisional Delegate of Communication in Momo Division of the North West Region.

Jeme was killed in an ambush by separatist fighters in the locality of Njikwa, Momo Division of the North West Region. 

She was in the convoy of the Senior Divisional Officer, SDO of Momo, returning to Mbengwi after the installation of Harra Amatangana Maxim as Divisional Officer, DO of Ngie Subdivision and Benjamin Belinga, Divisional Officer, DO, of Njikwa Subdivision. 

The convoy is said to have been ambushed with an Improvised Explosive Device, IED. Five soldiers also died in the Amba attack.

Nimpa Francis 

Another journalist who has gone through hell in the hands of Amba fighters is Nimpa Francis.

The Bamenda-based journalist was kidnapped in 2021 around T-Junction in the North West regional capital city. 

Nimpa, who is Chief of Programs at Radio Hot Cocoa, was forced by Amba fighters to drive his vehicle to the outskirts of Bamenda towards the Mile 90 vicinity. 

The anchor of popular programme, Frank Talk, on Radio Hot Cocoa, was whisked to a separatist hideout where he spent hours before he was set free. 

Nimpa is reported to have regained his freedom after the gunmen forced him to call his colleagues to ascertain his identity as a journalist. He was released without his vehicle. 

Nimpa has since the incident been battling with the trauma. He has however been going about his duties in strict respect of professional codes of ethics, without fear of whose ox is gored. 

Fung John Ngum

Fung John Ngum, is amongst the media practitioners in the North West Region who have had their own fair share of atrocities committed by Amba fighters. Fung John, who is co-host of Press and Associate, a flagship programme of Bamenda-based Ndefcam Radio, was kidnapped as he set out for work.

He was kidnapped on January 20, 2021. Fung was kidnapped around his residence as he stepped out for coordination meeting. He was ambushed by separatist fighters who stormed his residence onboard motor bikes. 

Fung was taken to a camp where he was held for close to nine hours. He was interrogated for several hours before being released without any conditions.

The Cameroon Association of English-Speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ, had described his abduction as “shameful” and part of the symptomatic degeneration of moral values in Cameroon.

Fung John has several years of journalism practice. Originally trained as a linguist, Fung was recruited into the Ministry of Public Health as a health communicator since 2006.

He has worked in the North West Region as a health communicator in charge of social mobilisation and advocacy for close to ten years. 

He is a member of the Cameroon Association of English-Speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ. 

Fung is also a member of the Cameroon Journalists’ Trade Union, CJTU, and the Menchum Journalists Union, MEJU, where is a serving as the association’s treasurer.

Laarry Uchenna 

Lawrence Chiggle Babila, fondly referred to as Laarry Uchenna, is another journalist who has suffered from Amba fighters’ acts of violence on media men and women. 

The journalist with The Voice newspaper, was held in captivity by Amba boys for two days. The Bamenda-based journalist was kidnapped outside his gate in Bamenda by three boys on board two motorcycles on March 16, 2020. He was released on Wednesday March 18.

Following his release, Larry Uchenna had recounted his ugly experiences in the hands of the fighters.

“As I speak to you right now, I cannot walk around. My legs have swollen following the two days beatings by Amba boys,” he said following his release.

“I was treated as a common criminal throughout my stay there. I was locked up in what they call a cell. The first day they brought rice for me to eat and I refused. This earned me serious beatings. I had to eat on the second day to avoid another thrashing,” Laarry added.

He said the separatist fighters kidnapped him just outside his gate and detained him for two days under horrible conditions on accusations that he had been working with the military against the struggle for the restoration of Ambazonia statehood, accusations he denies.

“I am a journalist and I report what happens on both sides of the war. If I were working for the military, I could not have risked my life living in Bamenda otherwise called Ground Zero, where they are many fighters,” he added.

On how he secured his release, the journalist revealed he paid 100,000 FCFA as ransom. 

Mbende Gillian 

Kumba-based multimedia journalist, Mbende Gillian, has also suffered in the hands of Amba fighters. She was kidnapped in 2021, as she returned from Mbonge to cover a cultural festival. 

The Vision 4 journalist was kidnapped alongside others around Lobo, a village along the Kumba-Mbonge Road in Mbonge Subdivision, Meme Division of the South West Region. 

She was kidnapped alongside the driver of the vehicle which she boarded. Mbende is said to have been warned by the fighters never to travel along the Kumba-Mbonge Road again. 

She was however released without paying ransom after spending hours in the keeping of the fighters. An undisclosed amount of money was however seized from her in the process. 

The journalist has since then been traumatised and has been living in fear while doing her job on a daily basis.

 

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While thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands internally displaced, journalists and other media practitioners have also been bearing the brunt of atrocities committed by Ambazonia fighters. Despite efforts by Yaounde to bring an end to the armed conflict in the crisis-hit Anglophone Regions, the guns are still smoking and many more people are dying in what a majority say is a senseless war.

The separatists, who initially claimed they were liberators intending to see their people freed from the shackles of marginalisation have now turned their guns on the same people they claim to be seeking to liberate. The supposed liberators are now seen as oppressors. 

Ambazonia fighters have been killing innocent civilians and kidnapping others for ransom. Journalists and other media practitioners have also been victims of Amba atrocities. Some have been killed and others kidnapped for ransom. 

In the midst of this unfortunate situation, analysts say it is time for the belligerents to put the lives of the common man first and end the war. In this edition of our dossier, we zoom on journalists who have suffered in the hands of Amba fighters, either having been killed, kidnapped or tortured.

Anye Nde Nsoh

Since Sunday May 7, the media family in the country has been in shock and disbelief, mourning one of their young, dynamic and bourgeoning colleagues, Anye Nde Nsoh, shot to death in cold blood in Bamenda by gunmen. 

Nsoh was killed in Ntarikon, Bamenda II Subdivision, at about 9 p.m. by gunmen suspected to be separatist fighters in the restive North West Region. He becomes the first journalist to be shot dead in the restive Anglophone Regions, since the crisis morphed into armed conflict six years ago. 

A released issued by the Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, of Mezam Division, Simon Emile Mooh, declared categorically that Nsoh was “mercilessly assassinated” by “a group of armed terrorists”. 

Nsoh was the North West and West Regions Bureau Chief of The Advocate newspaper. He was also a passionate sports reporter at Dream FM Radio in Bamenda and correspondent with the online sports news portal, Kick442.com. 

The bullet fired by the gunmen hit the journalist on the chest in the wake of sporadic gunshots. He collapsed and died moments later as he was being rushed to the Bamenda Regional Hospital.

Nsoh had stepped out of the snack bar where he spent his weekends to do animation at night, to buy batteries for a microphone. 

When Nsoh was hit by a bullet, others around the snack that had been surrounded by the gunmen thought he had rather prostrated to avoid being hit by a stray bullet. It was moments after that they discovered he was bleeding and gasping for breath. 

Nsoh’s corpse was deposited at the Bamenda Regional Hospital mortuary. A funeral programme that has been circulating indicates he will be buried this Saturday. 

It is still not clear if the journalist was targeted or he was accidently caught by bullet during the shootings by Amba fighters. 

However, onetime separatist kingpin, Capo Daniel, in a social media outing, claimed that the act was mistakenly committed by their foot soldiers. He is said to have just returned from Yaounde to establish documents for a new job he had picked up in Bamenda and was due to start work on May 9.

Nsoh was member of the Bamenda Chapter of the Cameroon Association of English-speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ. The orphan was also Media Officer of the Cameroon Amputee Football Association, CAMPUTEE. 

Anye had undying passion for sports reporting. He covered the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON, in Cameroon, making a name for himself. He leaves behind a daughter, family, friends and colleagues to mourn him.

Ambe Macmillan Awa

Another journalist who has suffered in the hands of Amba fighters in the restive Anglophone Regions is Ambe Macmillan Awa. 

The Bamenda-based journalist cum blogger, was kidnapped Thursday February 21, 2017, and whisked to the unknown. 

Ambe was at the time the North West Chapter President of the Cameroon Association of English-Speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ. He was only released after spending several hours in Amba fighters’ dungeon.

Ambe, who was also Secretary General of the North West Chapter of the Cameroon Journalists' Trade Union, CJTU, was released “unharmed” and reportedly without paying any ransom.

It is not clear what prompted the kidnappers to set him free but social media advocacy likewise pressure from national and international journalism associations and trade unions as well as human rights groups and society organisations were sufficiently credited.

His kidnap had triggered an avalanche of condemnation from journalists, national and international journalism associations, trade unions and human rights groups which were unanimous that “journalism is not a crime” and that journalists like doctors should not be targets during crisis period. 

To recall is the fact that the CJTU, CAMASEJ and other journalism associations in separate statements had condemned his kidnap and called for his immediate “unconditional release”. 

The statements were amplified by the Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, the Association of Christian Journalists of Nigeria, amongst others which insisted that Ambe Macmillan Awa should be freed unharmed.

Ambe told colleagues after his release that the “gunmen” accused him, while in their captivity of advocating school resumption. He also revealed that he was not physically harmed during the process and that he did not pay any ransom.

“I sincerely thank all of you for relentlessly praying and advocating my release. I'm just so short of words. I thank everybody, from my family to church members and media colleagues. Never knew I meant this much to you all. I appreciate the media solidarity thrown behind me nationally and internationally. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Let the past be the past. The practice of good journalism continues,” Ambe had said upon release. 

Asong Sylvester 

Despite his age, Amba fighters in 2017 tortured Kumba-based CAMNEWS correspondent, the late Asongu Sylvester Asapngu, who was popularly known as Asong Sylvester.

Asong was removed from a vehicle along the Kumba-Mbonge-Ekondo-Titi-Mundemba road around Mbonge Subdivision by gun-toting Amba fighters.

The late journalist was returning from Mundemba, Divisional Headquarters of Ndian in the troubled South West Region, where he had covered National Day celebration. 

The celebration, it should be recalled, had been ‘banned’ by separatist fighters in the two restive Anglophone Regions. The gunmen identified Asong as having been among those who had violated their National Day celebration boycott orders. 

The Amba fighters had accused Asong of covering the celebration to report stories that favour the Yaounde regime and the fact that there was normalcy in the North West and South West Regions. 

Asong was forced to sleep on the ground with his stomach. The gunmen also extorted the sum of 100,000 FCFA from the late Asong Sylvester before letting him continue his journey back to Kumba without a franc in his pocket. 

The veteran journalist, it should be said, had over two decades experience before dying in the afternoon of January 9, 2022, in the Baptist Hospital Mutengene. 

He succumbed to injuries he had sustained during a road accident at Bombe near Mbalangi, along the Kumba-Buea highway

The native of Bellua-Lebang in Fontem Subdivision, Lebialem Division of the South West Region died in his late 60s. He was an active and daring reporter who was always ready to journey to any event site. 

Asong Sylvester was a good mixer, reliable, humble and very friendly; attitudes which earned him a lot of news sources and made him a prolific human interest story reporter. 

He was a corner-stone journalist very focused on societal news as could be testified by his strings on the state-run biweekly tabloid, Cameroon Insider and the national bilingual dailyCameroon Tribune.

George Etoh 

Another journalist who today lives with a never-to-be-forgotten memory of Amba acts of violence on journalists is Bamenda-based correspondent of The Horizon newspaper, George Etoh. He narrowly cheated death in the hands of separatist fighters in Benakuma, headquarters of Menchum Valley Subdivision in Menchum Division of the North West Region.

Etoh and other colleagues were travelling to the administrative unit alongside Menchum SDO for the installation of the Divisional Officer of Menchum Valley, when their vehicle came under serious attack by separatists. 

The attack left the journalist severely wounded. He was airlifted through a military helicopter for emergency treatment at the Military Hospital in Douala.

Etoh received bullets fired by Amba fighters on both of his legs as well as his hand. One of his fingers was later cut off as a result of the injuries sustained during the attack. 

Mary Namondo Motimbe

The female staff of the Bonakanda Community Radio in Fako Division of the South West Region, was abducted on September 3, 2019. 

Her suffering and trauma in the hands of Amba fighters are terrifying because on that day, she was on air when the gunmen forcefully accessed the broadcast facility, firing indiscriminately. They then set the radio ablaze and took the journalist into the wild.

It took pressure from the press family, civil society and other international organisations, for her to emerge from the wild.

The separatist fighters equally set the radio station ablaze on that day, leaving the media organ’s thousands of listeners depressed.

Prince Moni Banjo Masssongo

He too is another journalist who went through hell in the hands of Amba fighters. His case is even more disturbing because it happened at a time when he was going to bury his father who was the traditional ruler of Kotto Barombi village in Mbonge Subdivision.

This happened on April 24, 2021. Amba fighters abducted him from among mourners around the village of Small Ekombe. He was taken into the wild alongside other relatives.

The vehicle that was transporting the corpse was set ablaze alongside belongings of those who were travelling to bury the traditional ruler. 

When the incident happened, reports emerged then that Amba fighters had demanded for ransom. Amba fighters are said to have asked for a ransom of 500,000 FCFA for the journalist’s release.

It took tones of condemnation from journalism associations like the Cameroon Journalists’ Trade Union, CJTU, and the press for Prince Moni Banjo to be released. The journalist works with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education. 

Talla Agha Christopher

Talla Agha Christopher, who is a journalist cum Barrister-at-law, has had his own share of suffering in the hands of Amba fighters.

He was abducted by separatist fighters when he travelled alongside Prince Moni Banjo Mossongo, to bury his father in Barombi Kotto village in Mbonge Subdivision.

Talla was among those who were taken into the bush and molested.  Though he was released at nightfall same April 24, 2021, the journalist and lawyer was greatly traumatised. Talla has worked for several newspapers among them, Eden and The Sun.

Doh Bertrand Nua

Doh Bertrand Nua, the Managing Editor of The Guardian Post, went through hell in the hands of Amba fighters while covering the February 9, 2020, twin polls in Manyu Division of the South West Region.

At that time, he was Coordinating Editor of The Median Newspaper. Till date, Doh continues to be grateful to God and for officers of the Rapid Intervention Battalion, BIR, whom he said, risked their lives to rescue him from the coughing guns of Amba fighters.

“Thank you Lord for another chance to live. God bless and protect the BIR commandos who risked it all for us,” he had written after recollecting what would have been the end of his life when Amba fighters opened fire from both ends of the road on a vehicle which he boarded for Mamfe, Manyu Division of the South West Region after covering the twin elections. 

After leaving Bachou Ntai, Doh recalled that they were first attacked at Babensi I village near Talangaye in Nguti Subdivision. On that day, the fighters were ready to kill, they had felled trees and blocked the road before pouring bullets incessantly. 

Doh recounts that the “deafening gunshots lasted some 45 minutes as the determined fire-power displayed by no-nonsense BIR protectors did not in any way hold the defiant Amba boys back from firing at us”.

Till today, he maintains that: “Only God alone knows how I was saved from the cartridges that riddled our car. The glass of the vehicle’s front seat where I sat was completely shattered. The broken glasses fell on me. Anything could happen to me at this juncture as more cartridges kept pouring on our car. I had just a BIR helmet that was surrendered to me by one of the BIR drivers at Nguti”.

His account of what happened holds that: “The helmet prevented the scores of cartridge grains from penetrating my skull. I also had a small black laptop bag with me which I used to cover the damaged door glass. The bag was perforated on severally spots by cartridge grains from the ‘Amba Boys’ who were determined to spill blood. Without the laptop bag, many cartridges would have penetrated into my body.”

“Panic-stricken as I was, I shouted prayers like a born again Christian asking for another chance to live from God Almighty. I didn't even know if I was still breathing but kept shouting like a newborn exposed to excruciating cold weather or better still undergoing the pains of circumcision”.

In frustration, Doh said he “almost opened the car door to meet the BIR elements who were displaying their combat know-how outside for better protection but was interrupted severally with words of caution from the driver and a CRTV colleague”.

BIR soldiers, he also recounted, “rushed me like a baby into one of the nearby armoured cars that was strategically stationed to cover our car”. The convoy succeeded to reach Buea, he recounted, thanks to military reinforcement.

Returning to his base in Yaounde, Doh underwent scanning and counselling at the Baptist Hospital Etoug-Ebe. He was in deep trauma for two weeks. It took the journalist over a year to fully recover from what he went through.

Frederick Takang

In May 2018, Frederick Takang, journalist and correspondent for BBC Afrique in Bamenda, was attacked by gunmen suspected to be Amba fighters, who made away with valuable items.

The journalist, who also works for La Nouvelle Expression newspaper, is said to have been attacked at night with the gunmen making way with his laptop, some money and working equipment given to him by the BBC Afrique; recorder, microphone and headphones.

But Frederick Takang’s ordeal in the hands of Ambazonia fighters was far from over. On Thursday May 26, 2022, he was abducted by Ambazonia fighters in Bamenda, North West Region. The fighters took the journalist to an unknown destination, together with his car. 

In a statement announcing the kidnapping of Frederick Takang, the National Syndicate of Cameroon Journalists, CJTU, had said: “Information reaching the North West Chapter of the Cameroon Journalists’ Trade Union (CJTU) indicate that one of its members, Frederick Takang, has been abducted in Bamenda. The Correspondent for the BBC World Service was abducted this Thursday 26 May 2022 in the early hours of the evening and taken to an unknown destination together with his silver Camry car…”.

However, hours after his kidnap, Takang is said to have outsmarted the kidnappers and escaped. The fighters are said to have kept his car and till date nothing has been heard about it. 

Fame Bunyui Ayiseh

Yet, another journalist who has suffered in the hands of Amba fighters is Fame Bunyui Ayiseh, a journalist with Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV.

In the night of Saturday March 13, 2021, she was kidnapped by Amba fighters in Buea, South West Region. 

The mother of three was kidnapped a few metres from her Mile 18 residence in Buea. Fame Bunyui was returning home when she was grabbed by separatist fighters, who then drove her to an unknown destination. 

The kidnappers are said to have demanded a 10 million FCFA ransom in exchange for her release. Many hours after Fame Bunyui Ayiseh’s kidnap, an 82-second video, which made rounds on social media, showed her executing instructions from her kidnappers.

In the video, the journalist could be heard making a distress call for her relatives to send money to the kidnappers in exchange for her life.

While crying for help, Fame Bunyui said: “Please send the money as soon as possible if not you will find my corpse here in the bush”.

The kidnappers, speaking in Pidgin English, ordered Fame Bunyui Ayiseh to tell her husband and other relatives of the pains she was being subjected to, so they could quickly pay the ransom.

The kidnappers showed a deep wound inflicted on Fame Bunyui with the use of a knife while she was blindfolded. 

In the video, Fame Bunyui mentioned that “…I am in the bush here in Ekona…”, some kilometres away from Buea, the regional capital of the South West Region.

Meanwhile, around midnight on Sunday March 14, 2021, Bunyui Ayiseh was released under unclear circumstances. 

Iyabo Becky Jeme

It was in the wee hours of Wednesday January 6, 2020, that the media sector in the country was taken aback when news of the death of Iyabo Rebecca Jeme, popularly known as Iyabo Becky Jeme, broke. 

She was the Divisional Delegate of Communication in Momo Division of the North West Region.

Jeme was killed in an ambush by separatist fighters in the locality of Njikwa, Momo Division of the North West Region. 

She was in the convoy of the Senior Divisional Officer, SDO of Momo, returning to Mbengwi after the installation of Harra Amatangana Maxim as Divisional Officer, DO of Ngie Subdivision and Benjamin Belinga, Divisional Officer, DO, of Njikwa Subdivision. 

The convoy is said to have been ambushed with an Improvised Explosive Device, IED. Five soldiers also died in the Amba attack.

Nimpa Francis 

Another journalist who has gone through hell in the hands of Amba fighters is Nimpa Francis.

The Bamenda-based journalist was kidnapped in 2021 around T-Junction in the North West regional capital city. 

Nimpa, who is Chief of Programs at Radio Hot Cocoa, was forced by Amba fighters to drive his vehicle to the outskirts of Bamenda towards the Mile 90 vicinity. 

The anchor of popular programme, Frank Talk, on Radio Hot Cocoa, was whisked to a separatist hideout where he spent hours before he was set free. 

Nimpa is reported to have regained his freedom after the gunmen forced him to call his colleagues to ascertain his identity as a journalist. He was released without his vehicle. 

Nimpa has since the incident been battling with the trauma. He has however been going about his duties in strict respect of professional codes of ethics, without fear of whose ox is gored. 

Fung John Ngum

Fung John Ngum, is amongst the media practitioners in the North West Region who have had their own fair share of atrocities committed by Amba fighters. Fung John, who is co-host of Press and Associate, a flagship programme of Bamenda-based Ndefcam Radio, was kidnapped as he set out for work.

He was kidnapped on January 20, 2021. Fung was kidnapped around his residence as he stepped out for coordination meeting. He was ambushed by separatist fighters who stormed his residence onboard motor bikes. 

Fung was taken to a camp where he was held for close to nine hours. He was interrogated for several hours before being released without any conditions.

The Cameroon Association of English-Speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ, had described his abduction as “shameful” and part of the symptomatic degeneration of moral values in Cameroon.

Fung John has several years of journalism practice. Originally trained as a linguist, Fung was recruited into the Ministry of Public Health as a health communicator since 2006.

He has worked in the North West Region as a health communicator in charge of social mobilisation and advocacy for close to ten years. 

He is a member of the Cameroon Association of English-Speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ. 

Fung is also a member of the Cameroon Journalists’ Trade Union, CJTU, and the Menchum Journalists Union, MEJU, where is a serving as the association’s treasurer.

Laarry Uchenna 

Lawrence Chiggle Babila, fondly referred to as Laarry Uchenna, is another journalist who has suffered from Amba fighters’ acts of violence on media men and women. 

The journalist with The Voice newspaper, was held in captivity by Amba boys for two days. The Bamenda-based journalist was kidnapped outside his gate in Bamenda by three boys on board two motorcycles on March 16, 2020. He was released on Wednesday March 18.

Following his release, Larry Uchenna had recounted his ugly experiences in the hands of the fighters.

“As I speak to you right now, I cannot walk around. My legs have swollen following the two days beatings by Amba boys,” he said following his release.

“I was treated as a common criminal throughout my stay there. I was locked up in what they call a cell. The first day they brought rice for me to eat and I refused. This earned me serious beatings. I had to eat on the second day to avoid another thrashing,” Laarry added.

He said the separatist fighters kidnapped him just outside his gate and detained him for two days under horrible conditions on accusations that he had been working with the military against the struggle for the restoration of Ambazonia statehood, accusations he denies.

“I am a journalist and I report what happens on both sides of the war. If I were working for the military, I could not have risked my life living in Bamenda otherwise called Ground Zero, where they are many fighters,” he added.

On how he secured his release, the journalist revealed he paid 100,000 FCFA as ransom. 

Mbende Gillian 

Kumba-based multimedia journalist, Mbende Gillian, has also suffered in the hands of Amba fighters. She was kidnapped in 2021, as she returned from Mbonge to cover a cultural festival. 

The Vision 4 journalist was kidnapped alongside others around Lobo, a village along the Kumba-Mbonge Road in Mbonge Subdivision, Meme Division of the South West Region. 

She was kidnapped alongside the driver of the vehicle which she boarded. Mbende is said to have been warned by the fighters never to travel along the Kumba-Mbonge Road again. 

She was however released without paying ransom after spending hours in the keeping of the fighters. An undisclosed amount of money was however seized from her in the process. 

The journalist has since then been traumatised and has been living in fear while doing her job on a daily basis.

 

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