By Macdonald Ayang and Mua Patrick, Nov. 29, 2016
Cameroon Journal, Buea – The Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea, Nalova Lyonga should be held accountable should any UB student or Buea resident end up dead after yesterday’s protest in Buea. Nalova, solely, in her overzealous move to frustrate the ongoing strike by teachers and Lawyers by attempting to force students back to the classroom, provoked the skirmish.
In a calculated move described by many as desperate to force students of the university back to school after staying away for over one week owing to the on-going teachers’ strike, Nalova had issued a communique to the effect that beginning Monday November 28, continuous
assessment tests commonly called CAs would commence in various departments and schools of the university.
The CAs, The Cameroon Journal gathered, can sometimes measure up to 30% or even 50% of the students’ semester grades, depending on the course. Nalova’s decision to get students come in
for the CA wasn’t taken kindly especially when lecturers of the university together with other Anglophone teachers of the two English-speaking regions of the nation are currently on a sit-in strike. The students themselves and parents didn’t think it was safe to get back to campus under the circumstances.
In reaction to Nalova’s, Prof. Asongwe Linus of UB, sent out a rebuttal to the VC, expressing disappointment over her attempts to intimidate students, saying such a decision coming from Nalova wasn’t strange to any of them who have been working with her, calling it a temptation, he asked the students to resist it.
“Why only in UB? Today she has come up with a timetable for CAs knowing the situation at hand in UB. I am calling on all students to fight back if she continues with this her CA on Monday,” a portion of his statement read.
The President of SYNES-UB, Prof. James Arrey Abangma, who was just still returning from Bamenda where they (striking teachers and lawyers) met with PM Yang, doubled down on Prof. Asongwe’s, insisting Nalova’s desperate ploy – “it can’t work.”
“I am yet to understand why the VC is much in a haste to see schools reopen. We don’t think of acquiring certificates when we don’t know what to do with them.” He contended.
This was the build-up to Monday’s skirmish that saw so many students brutalized, tortured and arrested, some carried to Limbe to a SONARA torture camp.
A lecturer in UB who was around campus early Monday morning when fiercely looking armed gov’t security forces invaded the university campus told The Cameroon Journal that “they just walked to students hostels and began forced breaking into them, dragging them out and beating them for no reason.”
It was the actions of the forces in campus he said, that motivated thousands of already aggrieved students to storm the campus of the university and began airing certain grievances against management. Amongst them, The Cameroon Journal gathered, was the nonpayment of the 2016 presidential grant of FCFA 50,000 per deserving student as well as the introduction of FCFA 10,000 penalty for late registration by students.
The disgruntled students, we learnt, also demanded government to live up to its promise of providing the 500.000 laptops to university students as promised by President Biya. To crown it all, the striking students called for the sacking of the Vice Chancellor, Nalova Lyonga who is already long due retirement.
As they converged in front of the University’s administrative block, the atmosphere got tense
when they began chanting revolutionary songs of protest. There was already heavy deployment of troops in and around the Molyko Campus, a situation that forced the students on campus for several hours to remain under siege, we learned.
But that heavy presence of armed police appeared not to have dispirited the students from going on the rampage. They took to the streets, brandishing placards with messages expressing their frustrations and demanding that university authorities provide solutions to their grievances.
As the fierce-looking police elements tried to push back on them, the students who had by now poured out in their numbers, replied by throwing stones and other sharp objects to fend off the police.
However, their stones and sharp objects were no comparism to the fire power and brutality of the police who got dozens severely tortured and as many as 200 reported arrested. Over 20
others who sustained severe injuries from the brutality of security elements where rushed to nearby health facilities for emergency medical attention.
As the protest ensued, several of the students could be heard shouting “Nalova must go”, “Nalova must go, No to extortion of money from students, we want our FCFA 50.000” read another message on placards brandished by the striking students.
The police elements who used water cannons to disperse the students later went back to students’ residential areas, pulling them out, raped some, tortured others, before arresting them.
The Cameroon Journal actually is in possession of names of some parents whose children were raped and molested by the armed forces. Pictures of brutalized students who sustained injuries on their heads, faces and naked bodies soon went viral on social media. Other photos showing students being beaten and dragged in the gutters by heartless soldiers also went awash on social media.
It emerged later in the day in a statement from the university of Buea, that the Ministry of Higher Education was yet to disburse the said 2016 presidential grants to students. But the damage was already done.
As we went to press, the VC, Nalova Lyonga’s whereabout was unknown. Her residence was under tense security as a group of activists are seeking for her head or kidnapping. Elsewhere in
the Southwest, in GBHS Mutengenie there was stampede as unidentified activists descended on the school attacking teachers, in Tiko, unconfirmed reports say a group of teachers were kidnapped from GHS Tiko, while in GSS Motombolobo, teachers were badly beaten and brutalized for defying current sit-in teachers strike action. Parents were seen rushing to the schools to withdraw their children.