By Njodzeka Danhatu
The Bishop of Mamfe, Andrew Nkea has accused Cameroon’s Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, for lies telling and lack of verification on the facts concerning the death of Rev. Fr. Cosmas Ondari of the Saint Martin of Tours Parish in Kembong.
His Lordship, Andrew Nkea, in an interview with the BBC’s Focus on Africa, Friday, November 23, debunked the Minister’s claim that, the Priest was not killed by the Cameroonian Military officers. “He does not live in Mamfe, I live in Mamfe, and this did not happen in the night, it happened during the day. We are not arguing over truth. I just beg Mr. Minister to verify what he is saying before he goes on the air. Because it is very disheartening, we are Cameroonians, we are suffering and our Minister will be talking about something he does not know. I am on the ground. I live here, the Minister does not live in Mamfe, he doesn’t even know where Kembong is.” Bishop Nkea averred.
According to the Bishop, the 33-year Kenyan missionary, ordained last year was killed by the Cameroonian military in Kembong, a locality in Mamfe, in Cameroon’s Southwest Region on Wednesday November, 21.
“I went to Kembong myself to meet the Christians there who were with Father in the moment, at the time he was shot. They explained to me that, there was a military vehicle that was coming into the village and as they were driving into the village, they were shooting, Father tried to escape around the Church but he was shot at the door of the Church, the bullet got him and he fell there”. Bishop Nkea narrated.
The military, as he explained, fired bullets, and pellets were littered in front of the Church. “The other Christians managed to run away to the back of the church. There was a seminarian who was also there. They ran into the Fathers’ house and some ran into other places. Yesterday I was there; I counted myself, 21 bullets on the front of the Church”
“They were actually shooting into the church” he added.
As one who went down to the field to see things for himself, His Lordship Andrew Nkea described how the situation was and how the Priest was killed.
“If you go to the place like I did yesterday, you will actually see some of the bullets that passed through the window and grasped the wall next to the Alter. It was around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, they were just a few Christians with the Catechist, cleaning the Church. Father was standing in front of the Church and when they were passing, it looks like when they were entering the village, they were trying to scare people or what I don’t know. As they were driving into the village, they were shooting at random because, after the mission, they continue shooting as they were going to their barracks. They did not stop at the Church”
To him, they are already used to seeing corpse’s every day “We are seeing death every day, nobody is been charged. We will make some noise about it but in the end what will come out of it? It is very demoralising not only for the people but also for the young priests I have around”
Bishop Nkea, compelled by the level of insecurity in his Diocese, has reduced the number of parishes in Mamfe “I have closed down 15 parishes, I am not joking. I have closed down 15 parishes because of the insecurity, all the people have run away. It is a very difficult situation for all of us and for the people who have gathered around Father Cosmas”
The people, as the Mamfe Bishop narrated, are making a U-turn to the bushes “most of the persons were telling me, ‘oh Bishop you ask us to come out of the bush and now they are shooting at us we are going back to the bush’”
“So I am stranded” he lamented.
Father Cosmas Oboto Ondari, is not the only victim. “The other time one of my priests was arrested in front of the Church by same military. I don’t know what they want”
Responding a question on whether he feels safe, Bishop Nkea retorted; “How can I feel safe, I don’t sleep in the night. When I sleep in the night, at the bound of every door, I jump up from my bed to go under, because I don’t know who is coming or what is happening”
Rev. Fr. Cosmas Oboto Ondari, is the third foreign clergyman to have been killed as a result of the Anglophone crisis that is deepening for over 2 years now.