Former leader of the outlaw consortium and human rights lawyer Barister Agbor Balla has released a statement following news of the kidnapping of former vice president of South West Appeal Court early Sunday April 8, 2018 in his village Ewelle, South West region, to release him with immediate effect.
Justice Mbeng Martin is reported to have been kidnapped as he went to bury a family relative on Sunday April 8th 2018 and kidnappers are demanding ransom from the family, tebopost has learned.
Reacting to the news, the revered Bala who is the President of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy for Central Africa said decry the kidnappers and call for the chief justice’s immediate release by those responsible
“We deplore the kidnapping in the strongest possible terms “the statement reads in part before adding that “we will not be bullied into silence through the barrel of a gun by armed groups”
Bala once again called for inclusive and genuine dialogue to end the escalating crisis ravaging the North West and South West region of the country.
Kidnapping a new normal?
Armed groups in the restive Anglophone regions of the country have embarked on kidnapping government and former government officials to send their message to authorities in Yaoundé as the conflict widens and gradually moves to a dangerous face.
The first government official to be kidnapped was the DO of Batibo who is yet to b released, neither has any video of him being alive been sent out by the groups.
All the search and rescue operations launched by the government have failed as many more kidnappings have been recorded with some released while others are reportedly killed sparking public outcry.
Justice Mbeng is the latest casualty in the long conflict between the government and armed Ambazonian groups
An emboldened Balla?
Once revered and adorably referred to as president Balla, the international human right lawyer who spearheaded and once led the all-powerful but outlaw consortium was the hope of the people.
His arrest in January 17 2017 and subsequent 8 month in prison generated massive publicity, brought international pressure on the government as Anglophne regions witnessed an uneasy calm punctuated by ghost towns all through his stay in kondengui.
After he was released in September 2017, alongside others through a presidential pardon, the man many had dubbed to lead the secessionist movement refused to move an inch from his original stance insisting he still believes that two state federation was the best way to solve the ongoing Anglophone problem, angering his base along the way who had wished his time in prison would have changed his mind.
His position distanced him from his base, pro-independence activists brandished him a traitor and puppet of the government, and his popularity amongst the people tumbled within weeks.
His words no longer had the kind of impact he once had and his following dwindle as the conflict moves to an armed conflict.
But with high profile meeting with international bodies, US government and major decision making bodies around the globe, Balla suddenly feels embolden and is forcefully making his case in either side to end conflict.
His latest criticism comes just days after he took to social media to decry what he says were massive human right abuses by the country’s army against civilian population.
An accusation the country’s military spokesman colonel Didier Badjeck has denied