In the communiqué, he makes reference to a particular incident on May 17 when soldiers arrested a Catholic Priest who had dared to go out and look for food for the people who were starving in their hideout.
“Fr Sylvester Ngarba, the Parish Priest was arrested by the military when he went out to try and get food for the people who had been in the Church premises for over 5 hours without any nourishment,” Fr. Godlove says.
He reports that the military accused Fr. Sylvester of spying on them for the benefit of separatist fighters.
“Fr Sylvester was later released after spending about 3 hours in the custody of the military,” the Cameroonian Priest says, and adds, “A mentally challenged man popularly known as Shu Fai was killed bringing the total number of those killed in the military raids of Tadu, Buh, Ngamatse and Vekovi to seven.”
Fr. Godlove recalls that the government undertook a similar plan known as “Operation Clean up Bamenda” in the months of September and October last year.
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Here, military forces were deployed to search for weapons, check receipts and invoices for all items found in the homes and to question people about hosting separatist fighters or knowledge of their whereabouts.
“It turned out that the military achieved nothing from this exercise, except that they enriched themselves as items that could not be accounted for in homes were either confiscated or their owners gave money to the military to reclaim them,” the Catholic Priest narrates.
He adds, “The truth remains that this operation yielded no fruits as armed separatists still wreak havoc in the city and with the emergence of IEDs, with detonations and attacks on the military a constant issue in Bamenda.”
In the DHPI report, Fr. Godlove has highlighted the changing dynamics in the conflict where armed separatists are perfecting their skills in warfare.
This, he says, is happening “against the backdrop of the government's die-hard approach to a military solution.”
“The days ahead can only get worse,” the Priest warns, and adds, “What is more, the military cannot expect the local people to help them to get the separatist fighters who are relatives and friends.”
“Until the government reconsiders its approach to this conflict and resorts to an all-inclusive dialogue, the local people will continue to die in their numbers and suffer many other inhumane treatment as the world stands by and watches!” the DHPI official warns.