Ngarbuh Massacre: After Failed Cover-up Attempts, Intimidation, Blacklisting, Silencing Witnesses, Gov’t Succumbs

NEWS
  • Orders Arrest, Prosecution Of Perpetrators
  • Announces Second Burial Of Victims, Compensation Of Families
  • Will Similar Massacres Be Revisited?

BUEA, Cameroon- President Biya has made public the findings of the Independent Inquiry Commission of the Ngarbuh massacre in Donga Mantung Division of Cameroon’s Northwest Region.

Even though the report did not touch on every salient issue relating to the massacre, it has named Government soldiers and its Fulani vigilante allies as the perpetrators of the heinous act.

The Government, through its various stakeholders, had earlier denied the involvement of her military in the carnage.

Meanwhile, the Inquiry Commission chronicled all the events leading up to the gruesome killings.

“At the end of its work, the Commission arrived at the following conclusions: The village of Ngarbuh, located in Ndu Sub-Division,  Donga Mantung Division, Northwest Region, had become a centre where secessionist terrorists regrouped and a logistics pole for the supply of arms, ammunition and fuel for secessionist groups located in Bui Division and part of Ngoketunjia Division.

“The terrorists were engaged in all sorts of abuses against the local population (cattle rustling, rape, assaults, etc.) which warranted an intervention by the Defence and Security Forces in order to protect them.

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“To this end, a reconnaissance mission was authorised on February 12, 2020, by Major Charles Eric Nyiangono  Ze, Commander of the 52nd Motorised Infantry Battalion, BIM, in   Nkambe led by Sergeant Baba Guida, Commander of Ntumbaw joint regiment.

According to the Commission’s report, the detachment left the Ntumbaw base, February 13 at 10 pm with three servicemen and two gendarmes. As they advanced, the detachment Commander decided to enlist 17 members of a local vigilante committee

At the entrance of the village of Ngarbuh, the group split into two teams to comb Ngarbuh 2 and Ngarbuh 3 neighbourhoods.

The report further revealed that “upon entering the Ngarbuh 3 neighbourhood,  the place of the tragedy, the team, led by Sergeant Baba Guida, comprising Gendarme Cyrille Sanding Sanding, Private1st Class Gilbert Haranga and ten  (10) members of the vigilante committee, launched an attack based on information provided by a repented terrorist and a farmer from the area.

“Following an exchange of gunfire, during which five terrorists were killed, and many weapons seized, the detachment discovered that three women and 10 children had died because of its action.

“Panic-stricken, the three servicemen with the help of some members of the vigilante committee, tried to conceal the facts by causing fires.

The report stated upon return to Ntumbaw, Sergeant Baba Guida, who led the operation, submitted a deliberately biased report to his superiors, a report on which the Government initially based its statement.” 

After establishing that Government troops and Fulani herders were behind the act, President Biya has ordered “The institution of disciplinary proceedings against Major Nyiangono Ze Charles Eric, Commander of the 52nd Motorised Infantry Battalion, BIM, and all the servicemen who took part in the Ngarbuh operation.

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“The arrest of Sergeant Baba Guida, Gendarme Cyrille Sanding Sanding, and Private 1st Class Gilbert Haranga, and the 10 members of the vigilante committee involved in the Ngarbuh 3 tragic events and the institution of legal proceedings against them. The servicemen concerned are already at the disposal of the Yaounde military tribunal. The concerned members of the vigilante committee are actively being tracked down.

The President also demanded the exhumation of the corpses of the victims in order to give them a decent burial at the cost of the State and to establish the necessary evidence to bring out the truth. “The identification of the rightful claimants of the victims by the administration to enable the State to pay appropriate compensation and indemnities, and the strengthening of security in the village of Ngarbuh, especially by creating a military base and setting up other public services which should help to ensure better protection of civilians against the abuses of armed groups, the return of   displaced    persons    and   the    easing    of inter-community tensions.”

President Biya extended his condolences to the bereaved families and expressed his determination to ensure that justice is done. He also cautioned soldiers and military command to ensure the protection of civilians and to investigate into such acts, and, where necessary, punish perpetrators.

Will Similar Massacres Be Revisited?

Meanwhile, many people have applauded the Government for ensuring that justice is served; according to them, the investigation and the publishing of the report is a step in the right direction.

Many have asked the Government to investigate similar killings that were carried out elsewhere and downplayed or shielded by administrators by silencing and killing witnesses.  

Critical observers have also asked what will be done about other incidents like the two Buea massacres, the Pinyin Massacre, the Muyuka, Kumbo, Kwa-Kwa, Muyenge, the Fulani invasions in Weh, Esu and Wum and the burning down of villages. Many have also opined that the court proceedings of the accused should be public, for them to ascertain that all the reports are not just a smokescreen or public relations stunt meant to divert attention from the issue.

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