By Andrew Nsoseka
Joint units of the Cameroon military, gendarme and police, on Sunday, April 7, in Buea, brutally neutralised one of theirs, Merlin Ndamen Njatang, who they mistook for an Amba fighter.
After the incident, we sought to know from sources, events that led to the brutal killing of Officer Njatang.
A source, a friend of the deceased, narrated how in the evening hours of the fateful April 7, Njatang, alongside four colleagues, had patrolled the town in a white Hilux and later came to share a beer at a popular drinking spot beside CONGELCAM in Bonduma, Buea. From there, they drove down to the Police Station in Molyko, where he was expected to take another shift, this time around, to take guard.
“He left the station to look for food, as he was suppose to take guard that night. As he sat down to eat, he received a phone call and, after that, he returned to the station. He removed his military jacket and had just his military trousers and a black T-shirt on. His gun was slung on his back, as he left to buy some things from a nearby store. After buying, he left to return to his duty post, using his personal car, at about 9.00pm. It was then that the defence and security forces, that had surrounded the area, opened fire on him, as they mistook him for an Amba fighter. They shot at his car, several times, shattering the windshields and windows.
“When he left to eat, he used the Station’s white pickup, and when he was going to buy things from a shop, he used his personal car.” Our source clarified.
Another source narrating the circumstances surrounding Njatang’s death, hinted that a phone call was made to the military command post in the area, by someone, alleging that an Amba fighter carrying a gun has entered a shop.
Without carrying out proper investigations, “A mixed patrol team returning to base, was immediately ordered to form a perimeter around the vicinity and ‘wait around there, and don’t let him leave’. They were ordered to shoot him immediately he moves out of the shop. So, as Njatang left and opened the door to his car, he was shot at, severally.”
We gathered that those who shot him were a mixed patrol team of gendarmes, police and the military. We learned that the late officer was shot seven times.
It is reported that after he was shot, the officers came closer to see the person and a police officer who was in the team, recognised him, and he was immediately rushed to seek medical treatment, but he died shortly after.
We gathered that Njatang is survived by his wife and four children.
He has served in Buea, from where he was moved to Nguti, later to Muyuka, Idabato and then back to Buea, where he has been for almost a year.
Born in Bamenda on June 8, 1975, Njatang traced his roots back to Bangante in the West Region.
The Buea incident comes to add to a series of other incidents that allegedly happened in some areas of the Northwest Region, where officers opened fire on some of their colleagues who were on undercover assignments to identify potential targets for subsequent military onslaught.
Such stories have, in most cases, went unreported to the public, especially given the danger involved and the heightened insecurity that characterises such situations, as well as information-hoarding on the part of the law enforcement component of the country.
People familiar with the events leading to Njatang’s passing on, have blamed the military operating in Anglophone Cameroon, for being too quick to act, without proper investigation to ascertain the veracity of stories.
Many cases have been reported where the military, acting on half-baked information, have swooped on communities and executed locals on claims that they (Military) are ‘neutralising’ Amba fighters. The general view on the Buea incident is that the soldiers, this time around, were victims of their harsh and flawed summary execution of suspects.