By Ashu Stanislaus
They disappeared after being arrested in parts of English-speaking Cameroon (now named “Ambazonia”) for periods ranging up to 20 months. Blind folded for most of the time, the women say they were locked up in what they describe as an underground confinement at the dreaded SED (gendarmerie headquarters) in Yaoundé. The trio are Germaine Dzenzo, Shey Zaramatu Shinyuy and Malle Prisca. Their stories are chilling. Yet, they are being spotlighted now thanks to the efforts by the team of lawyers defending the Ambazonia leadership in prison. The lawyers are providing legal assistance to all Ambazonians (Southern Cameroonians) languishing under nefarious and messy circumstances in penitentiaries, police and gendarmerie cells throughout The Republic of Cameroon.
Barrister Nicodemus Amungwa who is communication and media chairman of the committee for the defense team of Sissiku AyukTabe & others has sent out an alert that the women are currently incarcerated at the Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé. Prior to their incarceration in Kondengui, the victims, Malle and Germaine were tucked away in what they describe as an underground bunkerlike confinement at the Secretariat of State for Defense (SED). Shey Zaramatu on her part was also detained incommunicado at the Judiciary Police Headquarters, Elig Esono in Yaoundé for several months. The women were deprived of toiletries and blindfolded each time they were to be taken out to any office. “Right now, if you take us back to the place where we were detained, we would not recognize it. In fact, we could only know where we were each time from the conversations of people around us,” one of the women has told her defense team.
Germaine Dzenzo: Whisked Off from Limbe
Germaine Dzenzo was a worker in a mobile telephone’s vendor and service provider doing mobile money transfer in Limbe. She was arrested by heavily armed gunmen in Limbe on September 21, 2017. That was on the eve of the giant march for the declaration of the independence of the former Southern British Cameroons – now, Ambazonia. She was blindfolded and ferried by a military vehicle on the same day to SED Yaoundé. According to the statement by Barrister Amungwa, she spent one month at one of the ‘underground’ solitary cells of SED before being transferred to the judicial police in Elig-Esono, Yaoundé where she spent two months in another solitary cell. She only knew her change of location each time she overheard people mention the name of the place she was taken to because she was masked during her displacements. She was formally presented to the state Prosecutor for the Military Tribunal on December 01, 2017. She was remanded to custody at the Central prison Yaoundé on that same day.
According to her statement, the armed men seized 09 (nine) phones, her ID card, the sum of CFA 490.000 and desktop computers from the secretariat where she worked and took them to Yaoundé. She disclosed that the desktops were returned to the owner of the secretariat, but her money and phones are yet to be accounted for by the Cameroon investigative team. She has since December 01, 2017 been appearing before the military tribunal every 3rd Friday of the month.
Germain is accused of “photocopying and distributing newspaper stories about the Ambazonian crisis, receiving and distributing funds to the Amba Boys”. “Amba Boys” is an informal, colloquial name for Ambazonian pro-independence fighters.
Malle Prisca: Arrested in Muyuka
Malle Prisca was arrested in dramatic fashion in Muyuka, South West Region on June 29, 2018 when she went to give the hospital book of her fiancé who had just recovered from a bullet wound allegedly shot by the Cameroon forces of law and order. When she reached the police station, she was arrested and kept with her fiancé, to her utter surprise. She was ferried to Limbe (Victoria) and was severely tortured and blindfolded. She was stripped and videotaped severally and in turns by armed security forces on duty. The officers ran commentaries about her nudity, calling her “Ambazozo” – a derogatory word for Ambazonians.
On August 15, 2018 she was masked and whisked over to SED where she would spend 08 (eight) months incommunicado. She came to understand that her fiancé was also being held at the Kondengui prison, several days after she was remanded in custody.
Meanwhile a female police officer who invited her to the station extorted money from her. The policewoman persuaded her to take along the sum of CFA 435.000 to the police station in Muyuka on the day of her arrest to secure the release of her fiancé. Upon arrival, military men confiscated the money alongside her passport, ID card and her two phones. Nothing has been said of these items as at this date. She was only presented to the State Prosecutor for the Military Tribunal Yaoundé eight (08) months after her arrest.
She Zaramatu: Snatched in Kumbo
Shey Zaramatu, was snatched on February 22nd, 2018 in Kumbo in the “North West Region of Cameroon”. She was in her husband’s house when truckloads of heavily Cameroon armed regular security officers raided their neighborhood arresting people from a nearby bar where some denizens were sitting. Her husband narrowly survived the wrath of the arrest. After picking up everyone and looting the entire content of the bar, the soldiers headed to her house where they met Zaramatu. They brought her out brutally and tossed her up into the truck to identify her husband from those arrested. She screened the faces and told them that her husband was not inside the truck.
They then drove off with her and others to the police station in Kumbo where she was terrified with the way she was squeezed to conduct them to the supposed hideout of her husband. She was later driven back to the house and the armed men painstakingly searched the house but did not find anything incriminating.
The Cameroon soldiers looted a TV set, mattress, bed sheets and other valuables. Shey Zaramatu was then ordered to take them to a possible place where her husband could be hiding. Struck by terror, she took them to her husband’s grandmother’s house where the men searched same and found nothing. After the search, they looted the content among which was a mattress, gallons and other valuables into their truck. They flogged and ordered the grandmother to step out. As she did, the men immediately set the house on fire and drove off.
Back to the police station and leaving the agonizing grandmother stranded with no shelter, Shey Zaramatu was further tortured by the police to disclose the whereabouts of her husband. She took the pains as she was informed that she shall be released on the day that her husband is found.
She was taken to the judicial police in Bamenda where she spent 19 days without appearing before any court authority. She underwent more torture and was branded a dangerous Ambazonian terrorist woman. Her next destination was Yaoundé. During her blindfolded journey, the police ensured that she neither ate nor drank water. Cameroon police forced her behind bars at the judicial police in Elig-Essono where she was locked up in a solitary cell from May 14, 2018 to September 01, 2018 – that is for about four months before being presented to the State Prosecutor for the Military Tribunal Yaoundé. She was remanded to Kondengui prison custody on September 01, 2018.
The police robbed her of CFA 236,000 and till now no authority in their investigative chain has been able to account for her money. The woman was last seen by her family at the Kumbo police station. They only heard of her again in September when she was remanded to custody at the central prison in Kondengui, Yaoundé. Meanwhile, she presently lives in frustration and anguish as her husband was later hunted down and brutally shot to death by the military somewhere in Jakari. Shey Zaramatu has appeared before the military tribunal in Yaoundé six times, charged with “terrorism and secession”