By Hope Nda
The Paramount Ruler of Buea, Southwest Region of Cameroon, HRH Robert Esuka Endeley, cautioned his subjects at Mokunda village, a community at Buea Town where 52 guns were seized two weeks ago, against keeping riffles or transacting in drugs.
During a meeting with members of the community, attended by military and police officials, on Monday, October 31, the Paramount Chief contradicted viral reports, which insinuated Mokunda Village has a gun factory, which supplies separatist fighters.
The Chief’s meeting with the Mokunda community came two weeks after a military-police operation in the village on October 17 led to the seizure of 52 Dane guns and several packs of Tramadol, a strong pain medication that has been commonly misused by young people.
During his meeting with the population, Chief Esuka Endeley said Mokunda people were hunters in the past and the deceased owner of the guns that were seized was a popular gun repairer in the community.
He went on to warn the population against keeping guns and advised them to surrender existing guns to the Divisional Officer to avoid falling victim to a 2018 law that forbade the sale or unauthorised ownership of firearms by civilians.
“We are a community of hunters, where every household had a gun that they used in hunting. But I think because of the socio-economic crisis and political situation that we have now, it’s not time to keep those weapons,” said the Paramount Ruler.
The siezure of riffles and addictive drugs in the community raised suspicions among military and government officials about the community, as a possible hideout of separatists who are fighting to create an independent state out of the Southwest and Northwest Regions of Cameroon.
In April 2018, the Ministry of Territorial Administration banned the sale and transaction of arms in six Regions of the country, including the two Regions, which have witnessed a deadly armed conflict since 2017.
The release signed by Minster Paul Atanga Nji prohibited the “sale of hunting and protection weapons and their ammunition in the Adamaoua, Central, Littoral, West, Northwest and Southwest regions”.
The Ministerial text stated that the number of arms in circulation at that time exceeded the number that had been duly authorised by the government. It also asked holders of unauthorised weapons to surrender them to local authorities and those with legally recognised weapons to register them.
Before the outbreak of the Anglophone Crisis, many family heads in the Anglophone Regions owned Dane guns, which they traditionally fired during special occasions, including funerals (“cry die”), or used them for hunting.
According to Buea’s Paramount Chief, some people in villages like Mokunda might still be keeping their hunting guns, despite government prohibiting them from doing so.
He said such people should “hand their guns to the administration and when this crisis is over, hopefully you will get your gun back”.
The 52 riffles officers seized at Mokunda were taken from a local garage and are said to have been owned by a popular black smith who once lived in the village.
“The garage where most of the guns were found, that garage was owned by my grandfather… He was the only blacksmith in West Cameroon. I think he left a lot of things there that are not considered very safe right now and that’s part of the capture that was made on that day,” said the Paramount Chief.
Drug trafficking is seen to be on the rise amid the armed conflict in the English-speaking Regions of Cameroon. The military uncovered several packs of Tramadol during the October 17 operations at Mokunda Village.
A suspect was arrested afterwards, but he claimed he was not the one supplying them.
“The quantity of drugs, tramadol, we saw coming from Mokunda was very disturbing. It was not just about the drugs but it insinuated that we sell drugs at Mokunda. That bundle was disturbing. We have not been able to situate the person who brings such drugs here,” said the Paramount Chief who was yet to find out those behind the drug trafficking.
As police continued investigating the source of the drugs, the Chief Esuka Endeley told his people: “If you know anyone who supplies these drugs please report this person. It is critical that we keep the image of our city clean… we don’t want the sale of drugs.”