Home NEWSConflict Buea Fuel Vendors Raise Alarm After Arbitrary Arrest, Disappearance Of Colleague, Francis Ekang

Buea Fuel Vendors Raise Alarm After Arbitrary Arrest, Disappearance Of Colleague, Francis Ekang

by Atlantic Chronicles
AC

Roadside fuel vendors in Buea, the capital city of Cameroon’s Southwest region, have raised an alarm, after one of theirs, Francis Ekang arrested by law enforcement officers on March 28, 2022, has since been untraceable. After frantic searches in detention centres in Buea, he still could not be found, his colleagues say.

Mesue Francis Ekang, a native of the Kupe-Muaneguba Division in the Southwest region of Cameroon is the latest victim of police and military brutality, that has seen many young people in Buea, arbitrarily rounded up and detained without a possibility of their families getting in touch with them.

The roadside fuel vendor, AC leant, was also undergoing training the OIC professional training centre. He is said to have been selling fuel by the roadside to meet ends meets. His friends said he was also into cocoa farming, sharing his time between going to the farm, and selling fuel on weekends.

On what happened, one of Ekang’s friends, Elad Frank said a few days before Ekang’s arrest, police had come around and questioned him, reportedly about the source of the fuel he is selling. Though most of the roadside fuel commonly referred to as Funge is coming from Nigeria, Ekang’s friends said the police had accused him of getting his own fuel supply from Ambazonia separatist fighters who either steal it from some stations, or highjack from other sellers in Fako Division.

“On the 28, a mixed unit of gendarmes, police and army came and stopped at Bonduma where we sell, Ekang’s place is a few metres from us. At first, we thought that they were out to just seize petrol, so we tried to hide some containers, but they instead punched Ekang, and threw him on the floor of their pickup, where some of them sat, and then drove off. We heard them shouting and saying something about Amba fighters and stealing of fuel”, he recounts.

Elad said since then, they had as a union, moved around, trying to locate their colleague and friend, and possibly negotiate his release, but there has been no luck so far. “Everywhere we go, they tell us that he is not there, so we have become so worried and afraid of what they might have done to him, especially as they mentioned something about Amba”, he furthered.

AC

Francis Ekang

AC also learnt that Francis Ekang had in 2017, been prohibited from his community in 2017 by the Ambazonian separatist fighters, because, unlike most youths, he refused to join the armed rebellion to fight for the independence of former Southern Cameroons, now referred to as Ambazonia.

That forced him to seek refuge in Buea, where he had to aside farming and schooling, and sell fuel by the roadside to make a living, but has again this time around, been accused by state defence forces of selling fuel allegedly supplied by separatist fighters, who on the other side refer to him as a traitor.

At the Buea Central Police Station, the authorities refused to make any statement on Ekang’s disappearance. However, a police officer who did not want to be named, said he knew nothing about Ekang’s particular case. He however revealed that there is an ongoing operation to arrest roadside fuel dealers who sell at lower prices than their peers. He said they had gotten intel that vendors selling at a cheaper price, were receiving their supplies from Ambazonia separatist fighters who on their part, are stealing the fuel and reselling through agents along the streets, to raise money and fund their war against the Cameroon government.

Asked about the allegation that some vendors were selling cheap because their fuel was from separatist fighters, Amabo Silas, a roadside fuel vendor at Sosoliso neighbourhood in Buea said he could not tell whether there is any truth to that. He, however, told AC that a lot of roadside fuel vendors sell at varying prices, below what the union has agreed on, because they want a quick turnover, and to keep their customers. He said as such, even if the allegation that some fuel vendors are selling at lower prices because they are receiving supplies from Amba fighters was true, a lot of people could be easily mistaken for selling for separatists, when they are simply trying to capture a big share of the roadside fuel market.

Since the Anglophone crisis started in late 2016, many victims of the crisis, especially those accused of links with separatist fighters have gone missing without a trace. While some are said to be summarily executed, a few have been discovered at some distant detention facilities around the country.

Since active fighting began in 2017, separatist fighters and their leaders have sworn to fight till they get independence for the former British protectorate state of Southern Cameroons, now referred to as Ambazonia.

By Andrew Nsoseka

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