After spending more than 36 hours in the hands of unidentified gunmen, the 20 University of Buea Football boys were on March 21, released by their captors. The boys who were severely tortured by their abductors sustained wounds on their backs.
The boys were taken from University of Buea’s Pitch B, also commonly known as Wembley, as they trained during their morning session of the block training in preparation for the University games billed for Dschang.
The players, who fell into the dragnets of the armed men, were those who arrived early for the training session of the day.
Speaking to Atlantic Chronicles, one of the players who arrived late for the training session said “I was running down to Wembley because I was late with one of my teammates. We know how our Coach frowns at people who come late for training. One of the kidnappers surfaced and asked us to stop. He said we should hide, and that when they must have gone, we should return back to school. He also said if we called for any form of attention, he was going to shout and they will shoot us. So we waited till they had gone a little distance. That was when we started peeping. We saw how they took the Cameroon jersey off the body of our teammate.”
One of the footballers on his side, said they took offence to the indifference of school athletes in other disciplines. Hear him. “We were so sad to see other sport disciplines training on Thursday even after what had happened to players of the football team. We felt they had no compassion or sentiment about us, so we wanted to ask questions. Fortunately, we got information our brothers and teammates had been released. Yes, am happy but the injuries I see on their bodies really make me shed tears, because I just imagine the pain they are in.”
Atlantic Chronicles gathered that the team’s coach, Nicolas Asongu was absent during the Wednesday morning training session due to an accident on Tuesday evening at Malingo, a neighbourhood in Buea. He is said to have been with the accident victim in hospital.
The players were released some minutes after 8 pm, on Thursday, March 21, with the assistance of the Southwest branch of the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms.
The abducted players were taken to the Buea Regional Hospital where family members, friends, and well-wishers trooped in, to welcome and encourage the boys after a traumatizing experience
In an interview with one of the victims, he recounted his experience to Atlantic Chronicles, detailing that “we noticed three boys approaching us with guns, from the position in which we were seated, nobody could escape so we just had to follow their orders. We were put in a line and taken towards one of the foot-paths close to the field. After a distance, we were blindfolded then we trekked for hours in the bushes not knowing where we were going. Then we arrived at a particular area where we were beaten on our backs with matches.”
Asked the reason behind their kidnap, he said “the reason was not to stop us from playing football, but to stop us from coming to school or have any link with the University of Buea. We were asked to stop playing even for the UB FC , and even taking part in the Southwest regional championship. I am really in pains. Someone can look at me physically and know. Sincerely the pain is unbearable.”
List of Kidnapped UB Footballers
1.) Nomen Mbia Felix
2.) Abang Mactom
3.) Tambe Francis
4.) Njumewang Enongene Haston
5.) Motove Boldwin Netongo
6.) Barake Nke Brandon
7.) Ebong Ediage Jude
8.) Ndemaze Norbel
9.) Divine Amaaze
10.) Dongmo Kengne Yvan
11.) Begangancha Divine
12.) Nguty Micheal Akuli
13.) Tayong Roger Epoh
14.) Mbagopa Tchaleu Yannick Loic
15.) Ojong Ndip William
16.) Nelson Ngwanya Ekia
17.) Esung David Eponge
18.) Mambingo Samuel Wilfred
19.) Tabi Gingko Mbi
20.) Eku Desmondeku
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buea, Prof Horace Ngomo Manga visited his released students at the hospital to sympathise and encourage them. He urged them to gather momentum and overcome their traumatic experience, in order to join their mates in school.