By Nformi Sonde Kinsai
After awaiting trial for close to six years, another Anglophone detainee, Louis Ambe of quarter 3 at the Yaounde Kondengui Central Prison, has died under unclear circumstances.
Ambe’s death was announced in a press statement issued in Buea on April 16, 2022, by the Communication and Media Chairman of the defence team of Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe and other English-speaking Cameroonian detainees, Barrister Nico Amungwa Tanyi.
The detainees are held in prisons and detention centres across Cameroon within the context of the over five years ongoing war in the Southwest and Northwest Regions.
The statement notes that, “according to the Coordinator of Ambazonian prisoners of conscience, Louis fell ill at about 3 a.m. this Saturday April 16, 2022 and vomited a lot of blood. By the time his co-detainees rushed him to the infirmary of that prison, highly celebrated for its inadequate and inadaptable facilities and services, the personnel on service was unable to handle the situation.
“Consequently, he died in the presence of his co-detainees and was barely wrapped up and evacuated off the precinct of the prison in fear that other detainees could stage an uproar. It must be underscored that, the information of the demise of Louis was brought to the attention of the Coordinator by the Superintendent of the prison,” the statement maintains.
It equally recalls that “late Louis Ambe has been on pre-trial detention for about six years following his arrest and 16 others on November 13, 2017, in Bafia-Muyuka, Southwest Region of Cameroon. Their matter, like many others, has suffered lot of unjustified delays before the Military Tribunal in Yaounde due to sclerosis created by the legal department.
“The abduction of three other detainees (Tita Tebid, Hamlet Acheshit Ayuniseh and John Fonge) since October 13, 2021 by the legal department to Service Central des Recherches Judiciares, SCRJ of the Secretariat of State of National Defence, SED; provoked the withdrawal of the defence counsel from appearing before the Military Tribunal Yaounde since November 15, 2021 because the three detained at SCRJ are being deprived of access to justice for over six months now.
“The local and international press, the diplomatic and international organisations accredited to Yaounde and the public must take note that the death of Louis has come again to portray the ugly side of the Military Tribunal Yaounde in their manifest delay of justice in dealing with matters concerning the ongoing war in the two English speaking regions of Cameroon,” the statement holds.
Meanwhile, in a complaint dated April 16 addressed to the State Prosecutor of the Yaounde Military Tribunal through the Superintendent of the Yaounde Central Prison, a copy of which The Post stumbled on, and endorsed by 115 co-detainees of late Ambe Louis, some detainees of that detention facility are being accused of threat to life punishable under sections 94, 301, and 302 of the Cameroon Penal Code.
“It is with humility that we table before your high offices this complaint against the following detainees for threat of life: Ondoua Mbani of quarter 3 room 47; Etienne Onana and Etame Mokolo of quarter 6 and Mballa Mbida of quarter 3 room 56,” the complainants wrote to the State Prosecutor of the Yaounde Military Tribunal.
The complaint is also copied the President of the Republic of Cameroon; the Prime Minister, Head of Government; the Minister of State, Minister of Justice; the Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of Defence; the defence attorneys; the diplomatic corps; Amnesty International; and local and international press.
The writers narrate that, “…since Tuesday April 12, 2022, we have been receiving oral threats from warders and prisoners alike with some promising to eliminate us one by one. We tabled an oral complaint before the Superintendent in charge of the Prison, AP Amadou Madi and the CSDASCE after Onana Etienne was moving around inciting the other detainees to rise up and attack us. The Superintendent promised to warn him to stop inciting the other detainees for he would be held liable in case any uprising occurs in his penitentiary.
“It didn’t take long for Ondoua Mbani…to openly tell other Anglophones in quarter 3 that they will poison them one by one. This matter was reported to the quarter 3 authorities owing to the fact that it is easy to pour poison in our pot of soup which is usually prepared in the open since the prison has not got space to provide for our cooking.
“Two days after this threat, Ambe Louis, one of us who has been awaiting trial since 2017 at the Yaounde Military Tribunal started vomiting blood and died on the spot before being rushed to the Yaounde Central Hospital. As it stands, we do not know the cause of his death other than the threats from the above detainees to kill us by poisoning.
“Many of us are now afraid to eat the only food that is prepared in the open and that’s our only source of feeding since what is provided by the Yaounde Central Prison cannot even go round talk less of feeding one quarter of 500 detainees in the prison which hosts more than 4000 inmates, three times its normal holding capacity.
“Sir, these are the kind of threats that cannot be taken lightly for we are packed in a tiny area where everything is possible. It is for this reason that, we are coming to your high offices with this complaint to notify you that our collective lives are in danger and we need urgent solutions to our predicaments before we are extinct,” the complainants appealed.
Meanwhile, The Post gathered from other sources that the arrest of late Louis Ambe and 16 others in Bafia-Muyuka on November 13, 2017, had nothing to do with the ongoing crisis in the Northwest and Southwest Regions for which they are being framed up. It was disclosed that some of those arrested had a standoff with a local traditional ruler in Munyengue who took sides with cocoa buyers from Douala to dupe the local farmers through the imposition of low prices.
When some of those arrested argued that prices for inputs in cocoa farming are high and protested against the low prices, the traditional ruler reportedly invited them to his palace for a meeting and instead called in the defence and security forces to get them arrested.
The Post was told that amongst the cocoa farmers arrested and now languishing in pre-trial detention at the Yaounde Central Prison, are a few others who were picked up by the military along the road in Bafia-Muyuka including students and an ENEO worker.