Nigerians stranded over insurrection in Cameroon
Over 500 Nigerians living and doing inter-boundary businesses have become stranded in the border towns of Mfum near Ikom and Stung Local Government Areas (LGA) of Cross River State. This followed the voluntary closure of all Cameroon borders with Nigeria a couple of days ago due to the separatist insurrection by Southern Cameroon which has been struggling to be a sovereign state since the 1960s.
On October 1, 2017 they formally proclaimed their independence and the government of President Paul Biya ordered a clamp down, forcing many foreigners and Nigerian residents in the country to flee or become stranded.
When Daily Trust visited the Mfum border, it was observed that several people including traders, students and other passengers who wanted to cross the border on both sides were stranded.
Some of those who spoke on the situation described the development as inhuman and very frustrating.
Mrs. Grace Takom, a cocoa trader, said the closure has been very frustrating because her livelihood depends much on her daily visits to Cameroon.
A student of Higher Institute of Business Management and Technology, Buea, Alele Precious Ezinne, who said she was returning to Cameroon from Nigeria decried the hardship posed by the border closure. She said they had spent over a week waiting for the border to be re-opened and complained that most of them did not understand the reason for the closure.
Some of them said they were facing challenges of feeding and paying their hotel bills as they have spent all they had on them. They called on the authorities concerned to take steps to re-open the border so that they can reconnect with their families and carry out their legitimate businesses.
A house wife, Caroline Lerin, with her two young children said she was travelling from Nigeria through Cameroon to Gabon to join her husband after spending the holiday with her children in Nigeria.
She said she had gone through difficulties with her children and called for urgent steps to re-open the border.
Some of the traders said they may incur great losses as their goods may go bad, adding that they were not sure when the border will be re-opened.
The priest in charge of Saint Peter’s Catholic Church, Ikom, Very Reverend Father James Mgbado, who has been harbouring some of those stranded, said most of them who came into Nigeria could no longer cross due to the closure of the border. He said the church also played host to some stranded Congolese who crossed from Cameroon to Nigeria as a result of the crisis in Cameroon, adding that about seven persons were still under his care, out of over thirty people that were there.
Father James Mgbado said the church also haboured some tourists from Argentina who were on transit to Cameroon and that the church continues to play its role, giving people hope in spite of the challenges.
The priest said the church is the house of God and a place of refuge for humanity, adding that it remains a place of succour for those in need.
A key proponent of Southern Cameroon, otherwise called Ambazonian Republic, Bishop Simon Apana, who spoke exclusively to our reporter said that they will never rest until they realise their dream.
Nigerians being repatriated
Where Nigerians were held up before the repatriation