February 14, 2020, inhabitants of Ngarbuh village, Donga Mantung Division of the North West Region of Cameroon watched helplessly how their kith and kin were being massacred by the Cameroon forces of law and order and some vigilante group members of the area. Instead of the normal love that characterizes 14 February, fear, and terror is what took center stage in Ngarbuh. At the end of the terror show in Ngarbuh, about 21 civilians, (13 children and a pregnant woman involved) were killed by the Cameroon military and its vigilante allies. This is according to statistics from Human Right Watch (HRW)
This tragic event attracted widespread condemnation from individuals and organizations in and out of Cameroon. The government of Cameroon through its interior minister, Paul Atanga Nji communication minister, Rene Emmanuel Sadi, likewise other top government officials blamed separatist fighters for the act.
Human Right Watch (HRW), Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA), the Bishop of Kumbo Diocese, George Nkuo, leader of the Cameroon People’s party Kah Walla Edith Kabang on their part accused the Cameroon military of being responsible for the shocking act. Government officials denied this terming it as fake and outrageous accusations which are largely misleading
With this accusations, and counter accusations, the president of Cameroon on the 17th of February 2020 set up an independent commission of enquiry to investigate into this gruesome massacre. It was not until April 21st that the said commission of enquiry released its report.
The commission on its report detailed that the Cameroon forces of law and order together with its local militia allies were responsible for the Ngarbuh massacre in which a total of 18 people were killed, 10 women, 3 children and 5 separatist fighters. The report equally indicated that the commander of the Ntumbaw joint regiment, Sergeant Baba Guida who spearheaded the operation deliberately produced a false report about the massacre which the government of Cameroon biased its statement.
Commander Baba, the report went on “involved armed civilians in a military operation, failed to control his troops during the operation, ordered the burning down of houses and deliberately produced a false report on the operation and its tool”. The report equally accused Major Nyangono Ze Charles Eric, commander of the the 52nd motorized infantry battalion of failing to supervised the ill fated operation personally. Members of the Vigilante committee enlisted in Ngarbuh 3, the report says “…took part in an operation that caused the death of several persons and the burning of houses”
The president of Cameroon owing to the above revelations has ordered disciplinary measures against perpetrators of what is now known as the “Ngarbuh Massacre”. Equally, families of victims of the the Ngarbuh Massacre will be compensated while the victims will be exhumed and given state burial.
The report of the Ngarbuh massacre has attracted widespread acclamation from human right groups and individuals across the board. Right groups like CHRDA and HRW that had accused the Cameroon military of haven perpetrated the Ngarbuh massacre can now hive a sigh of relief, especially as top government officials like minister Paul Atanga Nji threatened them with legal actions for falsifying facts.
Barrister Agbor Balla in a tweet commends the report of the Commission of Enquiry while recommending that the trail of the perpetrators should be fair and opened to the Public
The president of the CPP party Edith Kah Walla on her part said the report is show proof of the advancement of Cameroon’s democracy. She acknowledges however that the report is not entirely satisfactory.
Secretary-General of the Common Wealth, Patricia Scotland congratulated President Paul Biya for bringing to book those who perpetuated what she calls “heinous act”. Hear her: “I welcome President Paul Biya’s decision to hold the perpetrators of this heinous act accountable. I further welcome the measures the President has ordered to ensure justice and dignity for the victims and their families. Justice is an essential condition for sustainable peace. I once again condole with the families of the victims and I encourage a speedy implementation of the Commission’s recommendations so that justice may be done.”
The US Embassy reacted positively, lauding the transparency of the Cameroon Government as far as the Ngarbuh massacre is concerned.
Anglophone Separatist frontline leaders on their own part have reacted differently to the report of the Commission of Enquiry of the Ngarbuh Massacre. “Accepting culpability in Ngarbuh while presenting false justification of the systematic killing of civilians is a political masquerade,” said Ayaba Cho Lucas, one of the frontline leaders of the Self declared Republic of Ambazonia. He further called for an independent body to be set up to investigate other massacres that had taken place in Anglophone Cameroon. He maintains that the government of Cameroon cannot investigate itself.
All said, it is now left on the government of Cameroon to follow up and make sure victims of Ngarbuh carnage get justice even in their graves. Till then may their souls rest in peace.