One of the six abducted delegates, Late Mudika Mabia was killed while in armed group’s captivity in Ndian Division
By Andrew Nsoseka
For some time now, several families have remained gripped in fear of the fate that may have befallen their loved ones, several weeks after they were abducted by an armed group operating in Ndian Division, in Cameroon’s Southwest region.
Shortly after news of the abduction became public, one of the victims, the Divisional Delegate of the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Johnson Mudika Mabia, was reported dead. The 42-year-old delegate, was killed on Friday, June 18, 2021, three days after they were abducted by the armed group. His remains were transported through Idenau, to Limbe where it was kept in the morgue.
The abducted delegates include Elvis Mambe Ebaku of State Property, Land Tenure and Surveys, Felicia Ndong, delegate of Housing and Urban Development, Emmanuel Elad of Water and Energy Resources, Christian Mbida Armand, of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicraft, Stephen Agbor Nyenty, Divisional Chief of Service for Surveys, and the now-dead Johnson Mabia Mudika of Economy, Planning and Regional Development.
The death of the Delegate further heightened fears of what may befall the other five Delegates who have since then, remained in captivity, as no information is filtering out as to their state of health or wellbeing. The abducted Divisional Delegates were taken while on a land demarcation mission in Misore Balue, Ekondo Titi Ndian Division on June 15. From findings, it was established that the Delegates who were operating in the area considered a red zone in the crisis-ridden region were sent to the field without security officers to guard them, thus exposing them to the non-state armed groups operating in the Division.
At first, news circulated that the separatist commander who led the group that took the Delegates was demanding ransom for their release. In a statement, the self-styled ‘Commander’ Ten Kobo said he was not interested in any ransom. “Ransom is not good because they want to use the money that they will send, to track us,” he said in a voice note circulated on social media. He rather promised to use the delegates to set an “example”.
Speaking to the Voice of America News, VOA, on Friday, June 18, 2021, Chris Anu, the Secretary of State for Communication for the ‘Interim Government of Ambazonia’, confirmed that Separatist Fighters under his command are keeping six Divisional Delegates abducted on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in custody.
The action of the gunmen, as well as the government’s inability and failure to ensure the security of its Delegates, in a conflict region, robbed the delegates of some of their entitled rights.
By dint of Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the state has the duty to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction their rights as citizens, including the guarantee of their safety from such acts like the abduction of the delegates. It was the duty of the state, to protect and ensure the safety and security of the delegates.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 3 says “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person”.
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” It furthers in its article 5. These rights were all denied to the abducted delegates by the government and the gunmen who took them.
Relating to some of the treatment given to the delegates, leading to the death of one, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights in itsArticle 5, says “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.”
Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in itsArticle 6 (1), states that “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” In the case of Mudika Mabia, Divisional Delegate of the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, the right to life was taken away from him, by the action of abductors.
Even Cameroon’s Constitution, in its preamble, states among other things, that “every person has a right to life, to physical and moral integrity and to humane treatment in all circumstances. Under no circumstances shall any person be subjected to torture, to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment”.
In a statement released in reaction to the incident, CHRDA said it “condemns in strong terms the abduction of the six delegates and subsequent murder of one and called for their immediate and unconditional release. This abduction is an abuse of human rights and a breach of International law, sanctioned by the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, 1979”
Since the incident happened, public officials have made statements to some media organs, assuring that efforts were underway to free the delegates. So far, no public statements apart from comments made, and no update given as to the progress on efforts to retrieve the delegates who were sent to do fieldwork in the conflict area unaccompanied by security officers.
In a statement to the state-run Newspaper, Cameroon Tribune, Southwest Governor, Okalia Bilai said. “It is just time to call for calm as underground work takes its course to secure the release of the state personnel”.
The Senior Divisional Officer for Ndian, Lawrence Nforwang, is also quoted by media reports, as having said, he is in communication with the abducted divisional delegates who he said are being held in two separate camps.