Hon. Joseph Wirba, outspoken SDF MP for Jakiri Special Constituency, Bui Division has fled Cameroon into Nigeria from where he would travel to the US on self-exile, reports say.
Franklyn Sone Bayen, journalist and media consultant, stated on his Facebook wall during the weekend that the MP was last seen last week at the Commercial Avenue in Bamenda. According Bayen’s account, Hon. Wirba never showed up for his driver to take him home later that afternoon. He only called the driver several hours after he had gone incommunicado, and simply ordered him to drive the car home. The MP, Bayen said, only made the call when he was “safely across the border.”
Contacted for clarifications on the supposed escape of the MP who had been listed for arrest according to several newspaper reports, Denis Nkemlemo, his party’s Communication Officer simply said he cannot say whether or not the information is accurate.
Hon. Wirba might have been seen as endorsing separatist movements when he declared in parliament in November 2016 that his observation of the marginalisation of citizens of the North West and South West regions have given him reason to think that secessionists are right.
“…those who are saying Cameroon should go in two ways are right. They are correct!” he said during his outbursts which even Cavaye Yeguie Djibril, the House Speaker failed to control. He condemned government for treating citizens of the North West and South West regions “like slaves and a captured people”, stressing that resisting the injustices of the predominantly Francophone government has become a duty.
The MP became more popular among English-speaking Cameroonians after a video of the address in parliament went viral on social media. He later defied a government ban on a rally he had planned to hold in the town of Kumbo. A crowd of more than 5000 people attended the rally during which, Mancho Bibixy, one of the currently detained leaders of the on-going protest in the Anglophone regions was guest speaker. They both talked about liberation of the people of Former British Southern Cameroons, otherwise referred to as West Cameroon (North West and South West regions).
He had announced at the end of the rally that he was going to hold similar public meetings in Kumba and Buea in the South West region and another one in Bamenda, Chieftown of the North West regions. But shortly after the Kumbo meeting, government began arresting leaders and sympathisers of the on-going Anglophone protest. Even Ayah Paul Abine, a sitting Supreme Court magistrate was arrested like a common thief and taken to the gendamerie headquarters manu militari, as he said in a statement early this month. This apparently caused the tough-talking MP to shrink back into his shell as nothing was ever to be said about the announced grand rallies to this day.
Speculations were rife that Hon. Wirba’ immunity was going to be lifted during the March session of Parliament which opens today in Yaounde- a move which would facilitate his arrest and trail.
His escape comes after that of Bobga Harmony Mbuton, one of the leaders of the lawyers’ strike which merged with a teachers’ sit-down strike and later degenerated into the current regional uprising. Tassang Wilfred, leader of the Cameroon Teachers Trade Union, who went into hiding after the arrest on January 17, 2017 of some leaders of the protests, had earlier announced in a video circulating online that he was equally trying to flee to the US where he was expected to attend a meeting in Houston, Texas.