Report by SEFE on the Arrest and Detention of 4 of their Staff Opposed to the Herakles Project in Cameroon

November 14, 2012
Source: 
Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE)

Mundemba-Cameroon: 14/11/2012:

ILLEGAL ARRESTS, MOLESTATION, LOOTING, AND DETENTION OF NASAKO BESINGI, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF SEFE AND FIVE VILLAGERS AT THE OFFICE OF SEFE BY THE GENDARMES IN MUNDEMBA

The scene at the office of Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE), in Mundemba was transformed into a battle ground as heavily armed gendarmes made their into the office and proceeded to arrest anyone they find inside and looting properties and carry away bags of T-shirts and purse and camera.

In the morning of Wednesday 14/11/2012, many people from the local villages and in Mundemba town cued up to collect T-shirts which portrayed their opinions concerning the HF palm plantation project which they do not accept and their views have not be articulated by the company and the corrupted local officials who has systematical deceived higher authorities and the world that all the people in the area accept the project.  

The rationale for them to wear the T-shirts was to tell the world and the higher authorities that be that the reports circulated by the company and local administrative officials to the effect that everyone has accepted the project were false. Since the occasion will bring to Mundemba the Regional Governor and many people to witness the installation of the new Prefect for Ndian, SEFE deems it as a very good opportunity for the silence majority to expressed views beyond the horizons of their villages. It should be noted that opinions of the majority of people have been misled by Mr. Bruce Wrobel, of HF and the local administrative officials who claimed the contrary. Therefore, they were instructed to wear T-shirts and go to the field to welcome the new prefect so that everyone could see what they really stand for on the Herakles issue. Fact check.

When Herakles Farms’s Community Relation Manager, Daniel Agoons, got information about it and that many people were queuing up to collect the T-shirts, he quickly mobilized his subordinates (Adeline Kamera and Bange Lovette), who after laying surveillance on the office and tried unsuccessfully to dissuade the many people not to wear T-shirts to no avail, then decided to phoned the outgoing Prefect Mr. Peter Tieh Nde, who had been at the center of the false reports send to government that everyone in the area has accepted the project. Besides, Peter Tieh Nde had had usurped  the constitutional power of the Sub Prefects of the area as he has presided all of the so called Land consultative board meetings regarding HF affairs in exchange for huge money. Conscious of the illegality he then asked the Sub Prefect to append their signature on it. The law says the Chairman of the Land consultative Board is Sub Prefect and not the senior Prefect. But the Sub Prefect of Mundemba, Yves Betrand Awoufac Alienou had signed Documents of ghost Land Consultative Board meetings as Chairman when in fact he has presided none with respect to the Herakles illegal land grabbing due to financial influence from the company. Fact check.

Our arrest and detention was masterminded by Daniel Agoons, who stood just opposite the office of SEFE laughing and clapping his hands in appreciation as we had been driven out of the premises of the office. In fact he used that opportunity and sent HF workers to the field for propaganda sake, lying to villagers opposed to the project that government has ordered and transfer to because I was opposing what President Biya has already signed. This is the kind of deception has taken foothold in HF illegal land grabbing scheme.

We were arrested and taken to the Gendarmerie Brigade in Mundemba in a 4x4 WD pick-up, belonging to the local Department of the Ministry of Forest and Wildlife Protection, including the bag containing the T-shirts. 

The gendarmes forcefully undressed people who had wore the T-shirts and a woman who was arrested was undressed naked as the gendarmes forcefully removed the T-shirt on her body living her with just her breast wear. At the time of the arrest more 175 persons had collected the T-shirt as registration sheet shows. 

There were no people standing on the roadside with T-shirts when the Governor was making his way to the installation venue. However, the Governor’s convoy for some unexplained reasons decided to stop in front of our office over 15 minutes as we were being arrested under his watch. In fact a member of his entourage came down from the vehicle and took a T-shirt from the Gendarmes and never returned it. It looks like these fellows had concocted a planned to incite us into violent and then uses it to incriminate me and SEFE. But I was so smart for this kind of primitive scheme and as I told the rest not resist a bit but follow them where ever they want to take us. 

When we arrived, the brigade the commander asked that they should collect my phone so that I should be cut off from the rest of contacts still further notice. So therefore I was not able to reach my lawyers, family, and friends. I was then send to a crowded detention cell with many people who have been there for more than three months awaiting trial or transfer to Kumba.

The size of the cell is 1.5 sq.m with more than 12 people and without lighting for 24 hours and no toilet facilities with detainees defecating in plastics in the night and keep until morning period to discharge to the pit toilet. Bathing was a privilege commodity as the commander refusing that I should not be allowed to bathe. Staying a crowded room with many persons with no space to sleep or sit for 48 hours is agonising for one who has done nothing wrong. You have to pay somebody to even permit you a little space to stand or sit down.

At the gendarmerie, I was interviewed on the first day by the commissioner of Territorial Security Mundemba, Mr. suh Christopher on our motives of wearing the T-shirts and why we are against HF. 

On Thursday the assistance police commissioner Mr. Peter Dibo and a police officer Mr. Charles Ntoko came to the Gendarmerie brigade and told me that they want to get my story concerning a complaint sent to their office by HF. I asked them why they chose to come to the brigade at time I was detained for other matter. I asked them to produce an official document showing the police need like a convocation. They say they do not have one and that since they are the very people to issue it they have decided to come and so proceeded to give me a complaint written on the headed paper of Etah-Nan and signed by Mr. Etah Ako as the Lawyer of HF as well as e-mails send to the lawyer by Fanon purported to have been written to me.

After reading they told me that they had two complaints in their office one by HF and the other by me. But will start with the one that come first that of HF. I told them that I reserve my statement for the court. They tried to press on me to give them my statement but I refused.

On Friday the State counsel came to the gendarmerie Brigade and asked that they bring me out. He told me that they will bring us to the legal department by one o’clock and that we should look for people to bail us. I told the state counsel that they ceased my phone and that I have not being able to communicate with my lawyer, family and friends. He ordered the commander to give back my phone. 

When they took to his office he said we shall be given recognizance bail in which we declared that we shall not disturb public peace. I told him that we shall not be will accept any conditioner bail because our activity that did not constitute breach of peace. We did not want any condition attached to the bail, so, asked a staff of SEFE call and asked Lawyer Malle Adolf what was his take on the bail condition. He advised that we should accept it as it it. It was at this point that we started contacting people and they were many who came to legal department to bail us including women and anxious youths. In fact there was a scramble for people to take us on bail. 

We were release on bail and asked to report back to the legal department on December 4, 2012. We have not been charged this far. We finally set free at 5.30 pm local time Friday November 17, 2012. 

Those arrested are Mrs Ekpoh Theresia Malingo (Fabe), Isele Gabriel Ngoe (Fabe), Ochoe Charles Tatana (Fabe), Mosongo Lawrence Namaso (Meangwe II), Nwete Jongele (Mundemba), and Nasako Besingi ( Managing Director, SEFE). 

 

Conclusion:

- We had no intention to disrupt the installation ceremony of the new Prefect whose appointment we warmly welcome as this was in replacement of the most corrupted Prefect Ndian has ever had. We never block the road as insinuated by Sub Prefect in the Post Newspaper No. 01391, of Monday November 19, 2012. That declaration by the Sub Prefect constitutes wicked deceit, amorality, and darkness for a public official of his status. 

- What happened in Mundemba on the 14/11/2012, is that group recognized Cameroonian citizens to be affected by the proposed HF plantation in their area, opted to use legitimated rights and means enshrined in the Cameroon’s Constitution to expressed their opinions to this project which they say is going to make their livelihoods disastrous.

- The objective of raising the concerns of the silence majority opposed to HF was attained eventhough in a negative way due to our arrest. 

- On behalf of arrested and detained, I thank all of you for timeless effort that resulted to our release and to say that we have “burn the boat behind us on the Zero plantation in the buffer zone.”

 

Mundemba 20/11/2012

Nasako Besingi