Kidnapped Students and the Failure of Governance in Cameroon
After news broke about the kidnap of students of PSS Nkwen purportedly by Ambazonian fighters a lot of rumours has been circulating as to the whereabouts of the students. The video not only showed the face of one of the kidnappers but an attempt was made on Facebook to immediately link the face to one army officer – Mveng Rostand Armel. All of that simply confuses the facts of a case that is beginning to sound even more Kafkaeisk than we are used to from Cameroon.
I have succeeded in talking to the parents of one of the boys in the Video today and I won’t say which one but this is what seemed to have happened fro the point of view of the parents.
1) The children were not kidnapped yesterday or the day before but had been kidnapped on the 30’th of October.
2)The school had on their own decided to negotiate with the kidnappers and apparently had handed over some money to them. The amount of 2.5 million has been mentioned.
3) The school had apparently not informed the parents of the kidnap and most parents to their shock had simply recognised their kids in the video that went viral and went to the school to demand answers
4) The school had apparently also not contacted the police or the army because it is the experience now of everybody in the North West that once the army is brought into anything, it goes from bad to worse and people die,
5) The Governor of the North West region Mr Lele L’Afrique seemed only to have heard of this kidnap when it went viral on social media and then rushed to the school yesterday afternoon. He ordered the Vice principal, the bursar and teachers to be locked up by the police or gendarmes and all their telephones were seized. The Governor then went further and ordered the army to surround the school and cordon off the area.
6) At the same time the kidnappers holding the students said they wanted to bring them back and deliver them safely to the school as it is not their intention to hurt the students but with the school being surrounded they cannot show themselves around there because they know they will not only be shot but the children in their keeping will be killed too.
7) Contrary to what has been claimed the school was not guarded by the army
8) PSS Nkwen is special in that situated in a hidden area in Ntahsin, which is not yet very populated, the school was housing students from almost all PSS schools in the NW region because amba boys had attacked the teachers and bursars of CPC Bali, PSS Bafut and PSS Mankon. Consequently, they had transferred their students to this quiet area.
9) Having seen the video on social media parents from all over the country rushed to PSS Nkwen to try and collect their children today but the governor and the army will not allow them and was threatening the parents.
10) A bad situation developed there this afternoon with parents challenging the soldiers to shoot them if they want but that they are not leaving without their children. It got so bad that they had to bring in Ni John Fru Ndi to come and plead with the parents to go back home today and they left the school at 5 P.m promising to be back the next day for their children.
11) The parents have pleaded with the governor to send the soldiers away so that the children can be brought back safely but the governor will not hear of it and is determined to use force to solve the problem. The fear of every parent tonight is that the army is going to do something stupid and get the children killed in the crossfire or that somebody responsible for the kidnapping (whether it is amba or the army will kill the children to prevent their identity being revealed. In that case, the seizure of the telephones of the teachers of the school who have done nothing wrong and are now being held in custody speaks for itself.
12) Tomorrow promises to be a very hot day at the school campus, soldiers or no soldiers as parents and grandparents come looking for their children. Governor Lele L’Afrique needs to know that his attempt at high handedness might just possibly cost the lives of those children.