Ques­tions raised in Cameroon about Boko Haram arms seizures

Daily Trust - - AFRICA -

Cameroon’s govern­ment says it has seized huge con­sign­ments of arms and am­mu­ni­tion des­tined for Nige­rian mil­i­tant group Boko Haram. Res­i­dents in the area of the al­leged seizure, how­ever, say they are un­aware of any such ac­tiv­ity.

“The gover­nor of the Far North Re­gion has con­grat­u­lated the forces of law and or­der and ad­min­is­tra­tive au­thor­i­ties of Lo­gone and Chari Di­vi­sion for im­pound­ing a huge quan­tity of arms and am­mu­ni­tion which was be­ing smug­gled for on­ward sup­ply to the Boko Haram group,” said the govern­ment an­nounce­ment.

Cameroon state ra­dio has broad­cast this mes­sage sev­eral times, say­ing that Cameroon’s de­fense forces seized some 5,400 firearms des­tined for Nigeria’s Boko Haram sect in Borno State.

The news was an­nounced af­ter the Cameroon govern­ment dis­missed me­dia re­ports that groups like Boko Haram are us­ing its ter­ri­tory as a train­ing ground. Cameroon’s min­is­ter of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and govern­ment spokesper­son, Issa Tciroma Bakari, said that by seiz­ing the arms, Cameroon had proved to the world that it is co­op­er­at­ing with Nigeria to stop Boko Haram threats.

“This is the best way to deny any al­le­ga­tions that Cameroon is be­ing used as a base for in­sur­gents, for the desta­bi­liza­tion of other coun­tries,” said Bakari.

The govern­ment said the arms were seized in the sub­di­vi­sion of Gulfe, in the Far North Cameroon re­gion. Fortyyear-old busi­ness­man Ibrahima Dewa told VOA they had not seen any weapons in their vil­lage.”I set out for the hard-toac­cess lo­cal­ity on a mo­tor­cy­cle,” he said. “People there did not seem to be aware that a huge con­sign­ment of weapons had been seized in their lo­cal­ity.”

Dewa said Cameroo­nian po­lice­men move around the vil­lage with guns and lately they have seen an in­crease in the num­ber of mil­i­tary men with guns. Seventy-year-old Alim Bachir, chief of Kekte vil­lage, where the arms were said to have been seized, said he was rather scan­dal­ized that state ra­dio and the coun­try’s of­fi­cials could, in his words, mis­lead the people.

He was em­phatic that no arms had been seized in his vil­lage, and he said that no­body had been ar­rested or de­tained for trans­port­ing arms as the govern­ment had re­ported.

Bachir said he is the chief of the vil­lage so if the news were true, he should have been in­formed.

Cameroon Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Issa Tchi­roma Bakari re­fused to com­ment on the ap­par­ent dis­crep­an­cies in the state ra­dio re­ports.

“I heard the in­for­ma­tion, too, but in my ca­pac­ity as the min­is­ter of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, mem­ber of govern­ment, I will make no state­ment what­so­ever. I will make no state­ment,” said Bakari. He de­scribed claims, how­ever, that the arms did not ex­ist as defam­a­tory. “Cameroon is call­ing on the au­thors of this defam­a­tory cam­paign to put an end to it,” he said.

Last month Nigeria asked its neigh­bors in the Lake Chad Basin Com­mis­sion to cre­ate a task force to han­dle ter­ror­ists, but Cameroon said it would only con­trib­ute troops when there is need.

Sus­pected Boko Haram mem­bers so far have kid­napped nine French per­sons, two Ital­ians and a Cana­dian in Cameroon. Ibrahim Njowel, a cat­tle rancher in Kousseri, North Cameroon says the sect re­mains a threat.

He said the sect is be­com­ing a dan­ger for Cameroon. He also said he had heard that three clergy were again kid­napped, and said he be­lieves Boko Haram is be­com­ing a se­ri­ous prob­lem in Cameroon. VOA

Pres­i­dent Paul Biya

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