A press release from the Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary.
“A dispatch from the « Associated Press » (AP) news agency posted on its website on 8 December, 2015 reports of alleged abuses by Cameroonian Defence Forces during sweep operations conducted in the vicinity of the border with Nigeria in the Far North region, in which no less than 150 villagers of Nigerian nationality were executed, their homes burned down and their property looted and stolen by our soldiers in Nigerian territory.
The Government of the Republic of Cameroon strongly and categorically refutes such allegations, which can only be the results of manoeuvres of Boko Haram and their supporters intended to discredit the bravery and professionalism of our Defence Forces, and secondly, to undermine the brilliant victories recorded on the field of combat against the Boko Haram terrorist organization.
The Government hereby seizes this opportunity to once more urge our populations to remain vigilant and be alerted on the nuisance capacity of this Boko Haram terrorist group, who, defeated on the field of military operations, is hence using all available means to cast doubt in the minds of one another and trying to demoralize our Defence and Security Forces. Such gruesome maneuvers are evidently intended to discredit our country and jeopardize the serenity prevailing between Cameroon and Nigeria, at a time when this synergy is working to boot out the nebulous criminal Boko Haram by pushing them to the wall. In fact, the operations taking place since fifteen days at the border with Nigeria in this region of Cameroon are carried out within the framework of close cooperation with the forces of the First sector of the Multinational Joint Task Force of the Lake Chad Basin Commission. These operations are conducted with the kind cooperation of the official Authorities and the Nigerian Armed Forces, which at every opportunity, do not fail to express their gratitude and their satisfaction to their Cameroonian counterparts for the manner and efficiency with which these operations are conducted.
It should also be noted that whenever a military commander of the Forces involved on the frontline of battles plan to undertake an operation, be it the Cameroonian Forces, the Multinational Joint Task Force and the Nigerian Army, the other commanders involved are informed, meaning that these operations are carried out in perfect harmony and in total synergy of all the forces involved. Moreover, and with respect to the Cameroonian Defence Forces, it should be underscored that they are highly trained in the knowledge and strict respect for human rights and to which they are permanently bound to comply. Cameroonian soldiers are therefore placed under the most suitable situation for the protection and preservation of human rights in the operations they are asked to perform. Meanwhile, if by any chance one of them unfortunately happens to infringe on this fundamental requirement, he or she is to be accountable before the relevant disciplinary bodies and before the competent courts where appropriate. Moreover, the 900 hostages released at the end of operations by the Defense Forces of Cameroon on last November 26 to 28 are living eye witnesses. They can therefore bear witness of whether there were any acts of assassinations and abuses or not perpetrated against Nigerian civilians. Any journalist or observer from any media therefore has the opportunity to question these former hostages where they are at present.
The same dispatch from the « Associated Press » news agency also makes mention of complaints from the Nigerian side concerning alleged mass deportation of Nigerians from Cameroonian territory, which in addition, would be taking place under inhumane and degrading conditions. Here again, the Government of the Republic of Cameroon totally rejects these other allegations, given that the reality is quite different. Some of these Nigerians, who are being returned from Cameroonian territory to their country of belonging, are in fact refugees who fled the areas where the Nigerian Army is fiercely fighting against the Boko Haram group, to find refuge in Cameroon where they are warmly welcomed with hospitality and friendliness. Gradually, as these areas are being stabilized in Nigerian territory, these refugees are then returned to their country, and this, with their consent. The Head of State, His Excellency Paul BIYA, has given firm instructions and provided appropriate logistical support for the home return of these people to take place under optimum conditions of safety and dignity. There are therefore no extortion, no brutality, no inhuman treatment committed on these people who are all happy to return to their land of belonging in Nigeria. On quite a different level, it should be specified that the influx of these refugees in certain sites in Cameroon is higher than the available reception capacity. For example, the Minawao refugee Camp in the Far North, designed to accommodate 18,000 refugees maximum, is today hosting over 52,000 refugees. In any case, the Minister of Communication is on behalf of the Government reiterating the support of the entire nation to our Defence and Security Forces, for the fierce and victorious fight perpetrated on the war front against the obscurantist, brutal and criminal Boko Haram terrorist group.
The Minister of Communication herby addresses the encouragement of the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul BIYA to our Defence and Security Forces, as well as to our vigilante groups who are working with them and with the administrative authorities. The Minister of Communication is still on behalf of the Government lauding the commitment of the international community to stand by Cameroon and other countries in the front line in the struggle against the Boko Haram terrorist group.”
(s) ISSA TCHIROMA BAKARY