By Andrew Nsoseka, JADE
With the escalation of the Anglophone crisis, traditional rulers in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon, have continually been targeted by separatist fighters for either supporting a government initiative, or refusing to side with separatists’ agenda, or voting.
Also, traditional rulers seen by the government as weighing more on the separatists’ side of the divide, have been targeted and harassed by government forces. As a result, some have fled their palaces too, for fear of further harassment or prosecution.
On Sunday, December 13, some three traditional rulers, the Chiefs of Mile 14, 15 and 16 were abducted by separatist fighters in Buea. One died, before the two others were released.
On November 5, separatist fighters in Ngoketunjia abducted the Fon of Nso, alongside Christian Cardinal Tumi. The Cardinal was released shortly after, while the Fon spent close to a week in captivity.
On November 6, Chief Francis Nangoh of Liwu la-Malele in Buea Subdivision was murdered and his palace razed down. These attacks have left so many traditional rulers dead, and others displaced.
The targeted attacks, kidnaps and killing of traditional rulers for not taking the side of separatists or government, or for taking part in elections, or sharing an ideology, has deprived them of enjoying some of their inalienable rights as persons, thus making many to live in fear, or exile out of their Fondoms or Chiefdoms.
In Nkambe, Fon Njo’o Budi III was abducted by separatists who only released him after four days. Following his release, the traditional ruler was arrested by Gendarmes, demanding that he takes them to where he was held captive. After three days of harassment in detention, the Fon was released from custody.
Another traditional ruler, Fai Ngah-ntou of Fuh village in Ndu Subdivision was killed by separatist fighters in Donga Mantung Division.
In its article three, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person”. The declaration furthers in its articlefive, that “No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The Fons and Chiefs, when arrested or abducted by the belligerents, have had these rights violated.
Of recent traditional rulers in Anglophone regions have been targeted for participating in the just conducted Regional Council elections. Though separatists may be against any government agenda in the Anglophone regions, it remains a universal right of traditional rulers, like any citizen of world, to freely participate in governance or decision-making process of a country they reside in. This is also defended by article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek…”
In its article five, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, addressing the issue of cruel treatment institutes that “Every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited.” The Chiefs and Fons, have when taken by belligerents are stripped of these right to dignity and security of persons, as they are maltreated for holding a belief or supporting a side.
Also the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in its article 18 (2) decrees that no one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice. It furthers to state in article 19, that “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.”
Reacting after the recent abducting of three Chiefs in Buea, and the resulting death of one, the President of the Fako Chiefs’ Conference, Chief Ndike strongly condemned the act.
Chief Ndike stated that it was so shocking and sad to hear what had happened to his colleagues. He condemned the act and called on the Government to bring the perpetrators to book.
The Fako Chiefs Conference president recalled that over a month ago a Chief was killed in Buea. He regretted that Fako Chiefs have become a target in the Anglophone Crisis.
Reacting to the recent abduction and killing of one of the Chiefs, Agbor Nkongho, CEO of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa stated that “Such attacks on traditional leaders is an affront to the tradition, cultures, and customs of the people. It should be noted that the chiefs fall within the civilian population and ought not to be targeted in an armed conflict situation.” In its statement, CHRDA president stated that his organisation “strongly condemns these attacks on traditional rulers and urges the members of the Non-State Armed Groups to desist from all sorts of attacks on the civilian population as this violates the very laws enshrined in the International Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.”