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Killed in Church by A Struggle Ordained by God: The End of Chief Itoh Stephen Esoh

Under the auspices of Deacon Tasang Wilfred, the Anglophone struggle gained a lot of popularity among the naturally religious masses of English-Speaking Cameroon, when it was tagged as a ‘God-ordained struggle’. Over the first few months of the struggle, it might have actually seemed that the struggle was indeed ordained by God, as Biya’s Regime was making a lot of blunders, that all but pointed to its imminent collapse.

Over the last few months, however, since the struggle turned violent, the lines between God and occultism, seem to have been blurred. The same God-ordained Struggle became one in which fighters were increasingly relying on the use of charms and amulets (odeishi) believed to prevent bullets from touching them. Evidence from the gory images coming from Cameroon indicates just how useless these have been in providing the much-needed protection.

To crown it all, on Sunday, August 12, 2018, Chief Itoh Stephen Esoh Paramount chief of the Balondos, chief of Ekondo Titi, Ndian Division, South West Region of Cameroon, was pulled out of the church and shot dead by armed men purported to be Ambazonian fighters. Eyewitness accounts indicate that young boys stormed the church premises while Church service was in progress, forced the chief outside at gunpoint and asked him to accompany them on a motorbike. When the Chief refused and attempts to force him on the bike were frustrated, he was shot twice at point-blank range. There was no chance of survival.

This bold but dastardly act, committed within a Church environment, supposedly by people relying on God to help them overcome Biya’s monstrosity, further points to the paradox of Christianity within African communities.

Talking with sources in the locality, it was confirmed that the dead Chief has been a strong opponent of the Ambazonian fighters (Amba Boys). It is even alleged he had formed a counter armed unit to curb the actions of the Amba Boys. When attempts to abduct the Chief proved abortive, the Amba boys, therefore, decided that the one place he will be most vulnerable will be the one place he goes to ask for protection from his God. Hence the church became an easy target.

This is the second Chief to have lost their lives in a few weeks, both from the South West Region of Cameroon. Another Chief died a few weeks ago, while in custody of the Amba Boys. This led to rising tensions in Buea, which soon fizzled out. Opinions indicate that Chief Itoh’s death might wreak more havoc within the community as he was not only a paramount Chief but also a person of high standing. Among the many positions he held, Chief Itoh was a school head teacher, a Mayor, a member of the CPDM (ruling party) central committee, Former President of the South West Chiefs’ Conference & former Board Chairperson of Pamol.

Despite the Chief’s political affiliations, it is said he was a soft-spoken and pragmatic man, much loved within his family and the community of Ekondo-Titi. It is therefore feared that the repercussions of his murder might be far-reaching.

Sadly enough, should this murder create a rift within the community, the only person who will benefit from it is Biya and his regime. Hence, by going into the ‘house of God’ taking out a Chief and killing him, the ‘God-ordained struggle’ might have just shot itself in the foot.

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