The Chairman of the Social Democratic Front Ni John Fru Ndi has opened up on his ordeal while in the hands of separatist fighters at the weekend.
Ni John Fru Ndi was released on Saturday night after spending over 24 hours in captivity and revealed he was manhandled and asked to withdraw all his representatives from parliament, a demand he rejected.
Below is a full excerpt on the Chairman’s ordeal in captivity;
Question: Welcome back Chairman, we will begin by wanting to know the circumstances(surrounding) your second kidnapping.
John Fru Ndi: Well I thank you journalists for coming spontaneously like this. I returned from the hospital in Mbingo where I had treatment, if you look at my hands, you will see the different pricks that they had to draw blood (from my body) and they did it about ten times and they discovered that I had slight pains things that were trying to show their ugly heads and (the doctors) made prescriptions. So when I got home to take the medcines (and) I don’t like taking the medcines on empty stomach, so I had a slight lunch, took the medicines and I was feeling a bit tired so I laid down to rest. Not (up to) ten minute in my rest when I heard one firing in my compound and even in my parlour.
How Fru Ndi was manhandled
I was so taken aback that I ran out with a T-shirt on and a trouser to find out what was happening that they were shooting guns even in my own parlour. As I opened the door and engaged on the corridor, I saw this young man with heavy muscles walk up to me and say ‘come!’ and grabbed me on my chest. I said ‘please I am just from the hospital, can you let me know what is happening?’ He dragged me, drag me on the floor of my parlour, drag me on the corridor here through the yard right into their car outside…and they just bundled me into the car. They dragged me like a pig, I was not left better than a pig. When they put me into their car and we were now going, they knock me (in the middle of my head) with their guns about five times, with the barrel of their guns. I said ‘please you can not knock me with your gun’, (but) they still knocked. I said ‘you are an idiot to be knocking me like that, what have I done?’ They knocked me again and gave me two (punches) on my stomach and one said ‘Look at how big his stomach is’ and I said ‘that is a healthy stomach, I should not have a hungry looking stomach’. They said yet they are dying in the bush. I said ‘you are dying in the bush but the things are not going rightly the way we thought they would. They said ‘because there are black legs like you’. I said ‘ I am a black leg, you are a dark leg’. They then masked me up and all along the way trying to block my nostrils. I said ‘please if you want to kill me, let us go, you give me my charges, if I am guilty, I tell you I am guilty, then you can shoot me, you don’t have to strangulate me like that because you got guns.’ I said ‘these guns you are holding are weapons of the coward’. I believe in open dialogue. They went with me, dragged me out of the car through some muddy places, with no shoes on feet and took to what they call a cell and sat me there on a hard bamboo bed and that is where I slept. I never ate, I never took my medicines, and I am hypertensive and diabetic, pluc the other medicines that they doctors had prescribed, I never took.
Withdraw SDF officials from Parliament
So that night passed, the following day they later came and said ‘Mr. Chairman, we can now talk’ and I said ‘yes that is what I have been waiting for, you don’t treat me the way you are treating. You drag me out of my compound like a pig that you are going to slaughter ….you dragged me on the floor, me Fru Ndi, thank you very much.God bless you. So what’s your quarrel?’ They said ‘ We want you to declare on camera now that you take your people out of Parliament, out of Senate and out of Council in the next 24 hours’ I said ‘Sir, you don’t hold me at gunpoint to make such statements. Sorry, I will not do it because you have to tell me why.’ They said ‘No, they(elected sdf officials) are disturbing our course’ and I said ‘Why is it only the SDF parliamentarians?’ They said ‘because those are our parliamentarians…when they come out, we will know what to do with the rest.’ I said ‘fine what I want to tell you on this medium that you are interviewing me is that I will go to Yaounde, meet my parliamentarians, senators and we get the mayors and we sit down and discuss and look at the best way of doing it, because you can not just come with your gun and say Fru Ndi get out and we start running, No’. I know that the SDF parliamentarians have done everything to table the Anglophone issues on the floor of parliament to no avail. The Senators in the first Senate who were all francophones struggled to table it in the Senate to no avail. In the second Senate, they have all been fighting to get it even on the agenda that it should be discussed to no avail. So, we have our own approach and the approach I explained to them off camera and that if they think that the SDF Senators, Parliamentarians and whoever should get out of Parliament, I want to go to Yaounde and discuss with them but not in the 24 hours they are giving me because that is not the democracy we are all striving for. I had stood on the floor of the Supreme Court and told the judges that ‘My Lord, this is not the reunification we fought for, this is not the reunification we came into where there is no rule of law, where there is no justice in our land…’ Now they want to do it with the barrel of the gun, they can go ahead but I must go and discuss it with my parliamentarians, with my mayors and with my senators. When I discuss with these people and we have a way out, I will come back to you. They said ‘yes but you have never been coming to see us, you now (want to) come visit us…’ I said ‘Because you have never invited me. Other have come to me, others have invited me. They have sent their leaders and I have spoken to them. But when you have to come with the gun and drag me down as you did, in my own person in this country, it is very unfortunate.’ But I am praying that God should forgive all those who dragged me down in my own compound in the presence of my children, shooting my bodyguard in my parlour. Two wrongs don’t make a right… I think that we are in trouble in this country because anybody that has an opinion thinks that his or her own opinion is good. But I still believe in the democracy that the SDF ushered in, I still believe in the rule of law that we talked of, I still believe quite a lot of things that we talked of in the 90’s but if today, you have yourself being boxed up and down because you must say it this way…well if Cameroonians would listen to me then I will say give it to them; do what they want to do let us see what they can also do… you never can tell, sometimes a little child might solve a problem… but I do not believe in the type of administration where each individual thinks he knows best (and) he is the best. Because today with Mr. Biya, he has never invited us for anything to say ‘Look, these things are happening, what do we do … SDF, what do we do Northwesterners, what do we do the fons that made me Fon of Fons, what do we do in the face of this?’ They are just puching out issues, they had to form the Bilingualism Commission and in te wildest of my imaginations I asked myself, ‘What can Bilingualism Commission do in a situation like what we are facing in this country?’. They came up again with the Disarmament (Committee) and I started asking ‘Are we honest in really trying to resolve the Anglophone problem?’ (Paul Biya) sent his Prime Minister(Dion Ngute) here (in Bamenda) while his former Prime Minister(Philemon Yang had come out here and agreed with what they wanted to do. So I told the (Ambazonia) boys ‘Yes you brought me here, outside the maltreatment that your friends gave me by dragging me out, you have not tortured me, you have not beaten me but I am feeling dizzy with the cigarettes you are smoking and I slept on this hard bench which is what you had, so you truly brought me into your cell to say that you have captured Fru Ndi. If capturing Fru Ndi will make you solve your problems, you go ahead. If cutting Fru Ndi’s fingers or hands will make you solve your problem, please let’s go ahead. But I want to say one thing that I still believe in a democratic option, I still believe in the rule of law, I still believe in letting people choose and take their own actions in the way that they want to.’
Question: What message to those who have adopted the brutal approach by kidnapping and torturing people?
John Fru Ndi: Well you see, the Anglophone crisis is centring on Fru Ndi because there in the camp I met boys who told me ‘you caused our brother to be killed in Baba! You killed our brother in Baba! You killed our brother in Baba!’ But the brother killed in Baba was killed by the army because they burnt my house. So if (the Ambazonia fighters) are coming up with a system of government that you burn a house, you’ve done a good thing, they cheer you and you go, then what society are we building? So I decry the burning of houses, the kidnapping of people, the taking of people hostages to make money. I condemn in very strong terms house destruction from both sides; from the regular army and from the Ambazonian army…because Anglophone Cameroonians today are not free, they can not move about freely, they are not safe in their own homes, some of them in the night leave their beds and sleep under the bed. So I think that when you want to take care of people, you have to be humble, you have to be civil, like I told them in the night in the camp ‘Please can you give a human face to the struggle, to the fight you are fighting? You want to take care of the people, be friendly to the people let them see a different type of administration coming and not an administration that you have to cut fingers, you have to cut hands, you have to abduct people for ransom..’And I told them that as long as the real Ambazonians are not condemning this, then I condemn them for that because I had told them before, as long as you don’t condemn a person who has done a wrong thing, it means you did the wrong thing and you accept it.
Question: How was Fru Ndi released the next day?
John Fru Ndi: They came in the morning when we had done the interviews, sang the Ambazonian anthem and made their pictures with me standing infront of the Ambazonian flag and they said they were coming to release me. I waited, waited but they never came in the early hours of the day. It is about 9.30pm that they came and took me out that they are taking me away that I had to go home. I went there bare-feeted so they gave me some (bathroom) slippers which were very uncomfortable and troublesome as the bamboo bed…so when I finally climbed on a motorcyle, one of the slippers fell. They brought a shirt and forced it on me. And the man who carried me on the motorcycle was still very insultive, telling how I killed their friend in Baba. As I condemn those who kill, I condemn those who burn.
Question: You have said in the past that some of these militia groups are sponsored by regime baron, do you still maintain that?
John Fru Ndi: I still maintain that. I still maintain that the Anglophones have a problem. I still maintain that the Anglophone problem is should be looked into, I still maintain that there is Anglophone marginalisation, I still maintain that the Anglophones have been taken for granted. I still maintain all these things and all that we said in the early ’90s but the children in their desperate efforts to resolve this should not commit more faults and make more errors than what we are facing now.