Cameroon Police officer Tidike Joel is gone and gone in the cruelest of ways. The officer was on Saturday, March 16, 2019, burned alive by alleged separatist fighters in Bamenda, chief town of the North West region.
The gruesome murder by armed separatists came even as the United States Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, arrived Cameroon on Sunday on a two-day visit.
Secretary Nagy, who focused on trade and investment in Douala, Cameroon’s business hub, was expected to meet with President Paul Biya in the capital Yaounde on Monday.
The murder of the cop by separatist forces who are agitating for the independence of the Southwest and Northwest regions in Cameroon may provide Biya with more ammunition to back up his argument that those who take up arms against the state can only be defeated by the guns not through dialogue.
Secretary Nagy in a telephonic press briefing from Kigali in Rwanda last week called for dialogue and the end of bloodshed in Cameroon. “My heart breaks” about Cameroon, he told reporters.
But the separatists have argued that the security forces were an occupying army of thugs carrying out atrocities against innocent people, including burning villages.
Thousands of Anglophones have been displaced into neighboring Nigeria while hundreds are said to have been killed by security forces.
Sources said Police Officer Tidike Joel was rounded off in the Alabukam neighborhood by suspected separatist fighters who after torturing him, poured fuel on his body and set him ablaze.
Local media reported that “intervention from his colleagues was not timely”. And their arrival was greeted by the “roasted” remains of the officer who hails from Adamawa.
The incident, we gathered, sparked shootings in the neighborhood as security forces hunted down suspected separatist fighters in retaliation for the murder of their colleague.
The late Police officer graduated from Mutengene Police College in 2000 and put in some 17 years in service. At the time of this report, the government of Cameroon was yet to comment publicly on the incident.
Separatist fighters continue to multiply their attacks on security forces in the restive regions with leaving many dead. Photos of slain and amputated police offices including elements of Cameroons elite force, the Rapid Intervention Battalion, BIR, floods the internet every now and then.
For over three years now, Cameroon continues to slide into violence as armed fighters who are fighting for the independence of the North West and South West regions continue to engage in fierce battles with government security forces.
Both sides have been accused of gross human rights violations by international organizations and governments.
Last week, the US Department of State in its 2018 Human Rights Report on Cameroon highlighted several instances of human rights abuse exercised by both separatist fighters and pro-government forces.
They observed that “the sociopolitical crisis that began in the Northwest and Southwest Regions in late 2016 over perceived marginalization developed into an armed conflict between government forces and separatist groups.”
“The conflict resulted in serious human rights violations and abuses by government forces and Anglophone separatists.”
The report recounts several instances of “arbitrary and unlawful killings by security forces as well as armed Anglophone separatists; forced disappearances by security forces, Boko Haram, and separatists; torture by security forces and Anglophone separatists; prolonged arbitrary detentions including of suspected Anglophone separatists by security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions.”
“Arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; violence and harassment targeting journalists by government agents; periodic government restrictions on access to the internet; laws authorizing criminal libel; substantial interference with the right of peaceful assembly; refoulement of refugees and asylum seekers by the government; restrictions on political participation; violence against women, in part due to government inaction; unlawful recruitment or use of child soldiers by Anglophone separatists…”