Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo, was on July 6, held to task over repeated killings of soldiers and civilians in the ongoing Anglophone Crisis in the Northwest and Southwest.
During a plenary sitting dedicated to question and answer sessions at the National Assembly, Joseph Beti Assomo received several nailing questions from Hon. Simon Forbi Nchinda, MP of the Social Democratic Movement, SDF, on the escalating Anglophone crisis.
When asked the number of soldiers killed as at now, Minister Beto Assomo said it is not of prime importance stating the numbers, given that the country is in front of a difficult situation. However, the Minister indicated that four persons have, so far, died in prison. He said two have died at the Yaounde Central Prison and one each in Buea and Mamfe.
Concerning those who have been arrested, Beti Assomo stated that a total of 975 persons have been detained with 114 already tried. The Minister Delegate further said that the conditions of arrested persons are good, given that they are treated in accordance with the Penal Code.
The Minister Delegate upon answering the question why the military operating in the Northwest and Southwest Regions only speak only French, he said the military constitutes both English and French-speaking Cameroonians and urged the MP not to use such language of differentiation which is intolerable in the military.
Hon. Forbi’s worries came after both national and international bodies had condemned the military highhandedness with which the Government is trying to quell the Anglophone Crisis. But Beti Assomo told the lawmakers that whatever is happening in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, both French and English-speaking security forces must take responsibility.
In relation to other worries of the SDF MP that more than 2,000 civilians have been killed with 180 villages burnt, more than 120,000 refugees living in nine camps in Nigeria and more than 200,000 internally displaced, the presence of French military as well as the threatening of doctors not to treat patients, the Minister also denied clarifying the situation, arguing that he had only four questions to answer. He added that such claims are the work of social media.
Forbi said, in his capacity as the Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of Defence, Beti Assomo is supposed to advise the President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, as well as the military because, among other things, the military is not only burning down villages but arresting citizens unjustly and demanding ransom.
For humanitarian action to yield fruits, Hon. Forbi said there must be a ceasefire, because, the population is afraid of the military, given that it is alleged that missiles, helicopters, drones are being used to fight Cameroonians.
While Forbi and his colleagues looked astonished and embarrassed as to the response from the Minister Delegate, other MPs in the house rather clapped and appreciated the Minister Delegate for ‘wisely’ and courageously answering the questions.