By Mua Patrick, January 13, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Buea – South West and Littoral Bureau Chief of The Guardian Post daily newspaper, Amos Fofung and Atia Tilarious Azohnwi, a one time freelancer for The Cameroon Journal and Political Desk Editor of the Limbe-based weekly tabloid, The Sun, who were arrested in Buea, Thursday, February 9, have been ferried to Yaoundé and are being held incommunicado.
The circumstances leading to the arrest of the two reporters remain sketchy.
However, on Thursday February 9, the day of their arrest, Cham Victor Bama, another Buea-based journalist related that Amos Fofung and Atia Tilarious were both picked up by police elements in Buea, in connection with a bag that contained ‘anti-February 11 tracts. The bag belonged to the Publisher of Voice of the Voiceless newspaper, one Mofor Ndong. The Publisher had come into Buea from Bamenda that Thursday.
It is reported that Ndong, temporarily put up with Fofung for some hours. Apparently being trailed by the police from Bamenda, Ndong was arrested during the day with a bag containing the anti-February 11 tracts and flyers which it is believed he had printed in Bamenda and carried to Buea for distribution.
At the police station, Ndong was quizzed by the police to disclose where he was lodging or had lodged. As narrated by a source in Buea, it was at that juncture that he (Mofor Ndong) was forced to accompany security forces to Fofung’s Molyko residence.
The police arrived Fofung’s residence at 11:00pm, with Ndong, who appeared handcuffed. The residence of Fofung was searched before he and Atia, who at the time of the arrest was visiting, were both picked up and whisked to the 3rd District Police Station in Molyko where they spent the night.
On Friday January 10, both were taken to the Regional office of the Judicial Police in Buea and later same day transferred to Yaounde. They have since been in detention at the Judicial Police headquarters in Yaounde. As at press time yesterday, no official reason had been advanced for their arrest.
Colleagues condemn arrest
The arrest of the Buea reporters which came days after Tim Finnian and Thomas Awah Junior, all Bamenda-based journalists were arrested, has attracted widespread condemnation from media men and professional groupings.
Last Friday, the National President of the Cameroon Association of English-Speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ , Simon Lyonga, said in a statement that it was with dismay that the association learnt of the arrest of the political affairs editor of `The Sun` newspaper Atia Tilarious, and a reporter of `The Guardian Post` newspaper, Amos Fofung.
“This comes to increase the number of journalists held in custody this day by state authorities (Tim Finian held at SED Yaounde), in relation with the ongoing strike action in the two English
Speaking regions of Cameroon,” Lyonga said.
The CAMASEJ statement notes that the body condemns arrests of press men and their continuous incarceration without judgment.
“Cameroon, we must recall is a signatory of the United Nation`s charter, whose 19th article on the freedom of speech should not be undermined. Also the 1990 law of social Communication in Cameroon also enables its citizens; talk less of journalists to express their views freely. But, since the start of the strike action, many press officials have been harassed and radio stations closed,” read the Friday statement in part.
While calling for their immediate release, the CAMASEJ president said the association is equally calling on members and pressmen to remain calm and most of all professional in the discharge of their duties.
He said professionalism is the only but strongest weapon placed in the hands of a journalist.
“We are also informing the executive and judicial arms of the country that the press has always been a partner to their activities, understanding the press will be more to the advantage of our growing democracy, for a democracy without press freedom is not different from dictatorship,” he added.
The Publisher/Editor of The Guardian Post newspaper, Ngah Christian in a remark described the arrest of his reporter as “unfortunate”