Media in danger! Kidnapped Yaoundé-based radio animator, Martinez Zogo, found dead in state of decomposition.
Zogo who served as Editor-in-Chief and anchor of popular program, ‘Embouteillages’, on Yaounde-based radio, Amplitude FM, went missing Tuesday January 17.
He is reported to have been kidnapped near his home at about 8pm by unidentified men and whisked to the unknown. His car was found ransacked.
The corpse of Zogo was discovered during the early hours of yesterday in the locality of Ebogo, near Soa, on the outskirts of Yaounde. The corpse was in an advanced state of decomposition.
Those who rushed to the scene to identify the corpse are quoted as having recounted that his lifeless body showed signs of tortured. Others shared the view that he was tortured and abandoned to die while in excruciating pain.
Though the circumstances surrounding the death of Zogo still remains very sketchy, his demise has left the entire media family in the country in shock and disbelief.
Media reports quote Zogo’s neighbours as saying they had seen unidentified men outside his home several nights before his abduction.
Zogo had through his ‘Embouteillages’ program recently commented on alleged embezzlement in public-sector procurement that benefitted some high profile individuals of the regime.
The radio animator who in 2020 served a two-month prison sentence for criminal defamation is also said to have sent several documents to institutions and media outlets about those who have allegedly embezzled public funds.
Colleagues condemn killing, demand justice
Many journalists are now insinuating that the Zogo who has been whistleblowing on issues of corruption and other burning issues affecting the country might have been targeted and killed. This, some journalists are now saying, may have been done by those whose toes he might have stepped on in the exercise of his duties.
His death has been described as another attempt by the Yaounde regime to gag, muzzle and cowered the press to submission in the face of disturbing state issues that affect the common man.
In a statement issued yesterday, the President of the Cameroon Journalists' Trade Union, CJTU, Marion Obam, described Zogo as a victim of “human hatred and barbarism”.
“Away from this colleague, we are now all vulnerable. Where is the freedom of the Press, freedom of opinion and freedom of expression in Cameroon when exercising in the media now is synonymous to a deadly risk? A lot of limits have been crossed. This is unacceptable!,” partly read the statement.
The Cameroon Journalists' Trade Union vehemently denounced the “heinous assassination and its consequences which further restrict freedom and security in our country” and called to “order the outlaws, who usurp the sovereignty of the people for the benefit of unmentionable anti-people interests”.
The media association also called on public authorities to “take full responsibility for the security of the population and their right to life”. CJTU also urged the international community to “help strengthen the safety of media men and women in Cameroon and around the world”.
Obam in the statement also declared solidarity with any initiative taken to prevent what she described as “barbaric and senseless act which signals darker days for our country”.
She also called on the police to give an “appropriate response to this assassination by carrying out investigations to find and bring the culprits to book”.
Commonwealth Journalists Association condemns killing
In another statement, the President of Commonwealth Journalists Association, CJA, Cameroon Branch, Ebenezer Motale, condemned “unreservedly the callous and unnecessary killing”.
“News of his announced killing in Ebogo 3 near Soa in Yaounde, has hit the journalism world like a thunderbolt. We remember only recently another vexing disappearance of yet another journalist - Samuel Wazizi whose body has not been seen to this day,” partly read the CJA statement. Motale regretted the fact that nobody has so far been “tried or convicted in his disappearance”.
“The fact that Mr. Zogo's body was found in a high state of decomposition presupposes that he was tortured and killed,” the statement added, noting that
the media is “confronted with invisible and dangerous individuals who are clearly demonstrating the same mood of bellicose jingoism” that has before seen the “unexplained passing away of priests, journalists and other innocent professionals”.
Motale through the release called on government to “multiply search avenues that will find the killers and prosecute the perpetrators of the latest heinous crime”.
“The Cameroonian media says no to impunity and reminds its enemies that freedom of the press is enshrined in the number 1 law of this country. They equally fail to respect the globally-recognised status of journalists as civilians,” it added.
The CJA release noted that ensuring a free press, safe environment and access to information from farthest reaches of the country is critical in the present times. “Continued threats against journalists will only undermine Cameroon's ongoing efforts to come out of the excruciating economic downturn,” it concluded.
Earlier last week, the Committee to Protect Journalists had issued a statement, calling for a fast and thorough investigation into his whereabouts.
“The recent abduction of Cameroonian journalist Martinez Zogo is deeply concerning, and authorities must do everything in their power to find him at once,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator.
“Authorities must take this case very seriously given Zogo’s recent investigative reporting, and ensure that those responsible for his disappearance are brought to justice,” Angela added.