6 December 2017

Cameroon: Security Operations - Army Resists Provocations

General Agha Robinson, Commander of the 22nd Motorised Infantry Brigade reiterates that soldiers are still in the barracks while government has no intention of militarising the North West Region.

"When my convoy, on a mission to reestablish peace in Ndu, was shot, my soldiers wanted to respond but I said no. There was a crowd and in front were youths. I told my soldiers not to open fire," Colonel Ndema Siang Robert told Cameroon Tribune, recounting five hours of fire from assailants without any riposte from them.

The Commander of the 25th Motorised Infantry Battalion in Nkambe said they did not yield to the provocation because they wanted to remain professional and did not consider the assailants as enemies. "They shot at us but I told my soldiers we shall not behave like them because we are the Republic and are out simply to restore order," he disclosed.

In Jakiri, where a gendarme was shot dead on November 6, 2017, an operation to recover the lost arm of the security officer wasn't repressive, officials in Bui Division said. The security officers worked in collaboration with traditional authorities in Jakiri to recover the arm.

Cameroon Tribune gathered that similar deadly attacks on the armed forces, of late, in the region has left the security forces unperturbed as they continue with their mission of restoring and maintaining law and order as well as protecting people, their properties and public buildings.

Despite the deadly attacks on police and gendarmerie officers, which some armed factions of secessionist groups have claimed responsibility, the security officials say they have continued to act with tact.

Contrary to belief that the North West Region had been heavily militarized following the upheavals, General Agha Robinson, Commander of the 22nd Motorised Infantry Brigade holds the reverse is true. "There are no soldiers on the streets. They are in their barracks.

The gendarmes and police who are charged with taking care of the population are deployed to do just what they are supposed to do. The number of gendarmes and policemen in the region has not increased significantly. We just have what is enough for us," the Commander disclosed.

We learned some communities have even asked that more police and gendarmerie posts be created but officials hold the State is incapable of doing so now due to other logistic constraints. "Policemen and gendarmes only go where it is necessary," General Agha Robinson said, highlighting the fact that government has no intention of militarising the North West Region.

Instead, the number of checkpoints along roads have been reduced, giving room for effective surveillance of the movement of goods and persons. The few checkpoints left constitute of mixed teams of policemen and gendarmes, while there are plans to further reduce the number of checkpoints in the region.

The entire North West Region of some 36 subdivisions has only about 850 police officers and some 47 gendarmerie posts. In the city of Bamenda, some 230 gendarmes are in service.

According to Commander of the 22nd Motorised Infantry Brigade, the number of armed forces in the entire North West Region vis-à-vis the population is small, and as such the region cannot be said to be militarized, even by local and international standards.

Air force officials in the region, whose base is located at the Airport premises in Bafut, say they are preoccupied with monitoring road networks in the region to prevent highway robbery and ensuring that periodic markets function.

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