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World View: Nigeria Threatens Cameroon as 40,000 Refugees Cross the Border

This morning’s key headlines from

Nigeria threatens Cameroon as 40,000 ref..

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Nigeria threatens Cameroon as 40,000 refugees cross the border
  • Nigeria sends army to curb violence between herders and farmers

Nigeria threatens Cameroon as 40,000 refugees cross the border

Cameroon Francophone security forces (AFP)

Some 30,000-40,000 refugees from the Anglophone (English-speaking) Southern Cameroons region of Cameroon have been flooding across the border into Nigeria to escape violence and atrocities by the security forces of the Francophone (French-speaking) government of Cameroon’s president Paul Biya.

The violence started in 2016, but at the start was one almost entirely one-sided violence, with the Francophone security forces violently attacking peaceful Anglophone protesters.

In 2016, the peaceful protests began with claims by Anglophone lawyers that the legal and court systems are biased toward Francophones, with many laws passed without even being translated into English. Anglophone teachers joined in, protesting that all courses in the schools had to be taught in French and that any use of English was forbidden. The Francophone police responded by severely beating several protesters and shooting two of them dead.

Violence by Francophone security forces grew during 2017 and took a particularly dangerous turn on September 22, when pro-Anglophone activist forces began using small bombs to target local security forces. On October 1, separatists staged a massive march and declared the independence of Ambazonia. In the increasingly violent Francophone government crackdown that followed, hundreds of people were arrested, and helicopter gunships were used to fire on innocent civilians and kill them, resulting in the mass flight of refugees into Nigeria.

The October 1 marches were led by separatist activist Sisiku Ayuk Tabe.

On January 5, Nigeria captured Tabe while at a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria. Tabe was arrested with 46 of his supporters. After much political debate and calculation within the Nigerian government, a decision was made to extradite Tabe and his supporters back to Cameroon for trial. The extradition faced international criticism because it was feared that the Biya government would torture them and give them an unfair trial.

It is possible that Nigeria gave in to the extradition hoping somehow that it would calm the situation on the border, or whatever. With tens of thousands of Anglophone civilians fleeing across the border into Nigeria, the Nigerians may have been desperate enough to try anything.

But now there is a major new complication. As Anglophone Cameroonians have been fleeing into Nigerian, Francophone Cameroonian soldiers have been crossing the border in violation of international law, following the fleeing refugees, arresting some of them, and taking them back to Cameroon.

Even worse, some of the people that the Cameroon soldiers arrested were actually Nigerian citizens, infuriating Nigeria’s government.

Nigeria’s Senator Enoh alleged that over 80 Cameroonian soldiers with various weapons crossed the international border of the Danare-Daddi/Danre-Bodom axis and abducted five natives.

This is a calculated assault/offence from the Cameroonian military on Nigeria and on outright defiance of Nigeria territorial sovereignty, not minding the consequences of crossing the international boundary to carry out intimidations and harassment on the already alarmed citizens of Danare, with warnings of further assault.

There are increasing fears that the situation in Southern Cameroons is spiraling out of control, especially since Cameroon’s 84-year-old president Paul Biya is willing to use any amount of violence, slaughter, torture, and abuse to stay in power.

Cameroon’s last generational crisis war was the “UPC Revolt,” 1956-1960, which was a bloody civil war by communists attacking the French government in the Cameroun colony. The outcome was independence in 1961, when the British Cameroons colony and the French Cameroun colony were merged into a single country, and the Anglophones became a disadvantaged and marginalized minority. Today, Cameroon is right on the cusp of entering a generational Crisis era, which means that it’s possible that the current violence could spiral into a new civil war, this time between the Anglophones and the Francophones. Vanguard (Nigeria) and Independent (Nigeria) and Vanguard (30-Jan)

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Nigeria sends army to curb violence between herders and farmers

On January 31, a group of young men believed to be from the Christian Tiv farmer ethnic group attacked travelers waiting at the Gboko bus station in central Nigeria. The travelers were said to have “light skin and look like Fulanis,” referring to the Muslim Fulani herder ethnic group. The Tiv attackers used sticks, stones, and machetes to subdue the victims, and then set them on fire.

The attack is believed to be in revenge for an attack a week earlier by armed Fulanis who stormed a Tiv farming village and opened fire on the residents.

These are just two of a series of increasingly violent tit-for-tat attacks between herders and farmers. Herders are mostly Muslims from the Fulani tribe. Farmers are mostly Christians from a number of tribes, including the Tiv, Mambila, and Bachama tribes. About 168 people were killed in these tit-for-tat attacks in January alone.

On Wednesday, Nigeria’s army announced the launch of “Exercise Ayem Akpatum,” a phrase that is said to mean “Cat race” in the Tiv language. The exercise will run from February 15 to March 31, 2018.

It is “aimed at curbing all cases of kidnapping, armed banditry, cattle rustling in Kaduna and Niger states, sundry crimes in Kogi state and herdsmen/farmers clashes in all respective states, especially in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states.” Focus will be placed on raids, search operations, anti-kidnapping drills, road blocks, checkpoints, and humanitarian activities such as medical outreaches.

I have my doubts that “Exercise Ayem Akpatum” is going to do anything to solve the problem, but that remains to be seen.

As I have described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Nigeria, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s, is that in country after country, there a classic and recurring battle between herders and farmers. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that’s meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

As in the case of the Cameroon situation, there are fears that the increasing violence between herders and farmers in Nigeria today will spiral into full-scale civil war. Nigeria’s last generational crisis war was the Biafran War or Nigerian Civil War, fought between Nigeria and the secessionist Republic of Biafra. The war began on July 1967, and ended on January 11, 1970, with the surrender of Biafra.

Since that war climaxed only 48 years ago, Nigeria is in a generational Unraveling era, and there are plenty of traumatized survivors of that war still alive who will do anything to prevent it from happening again. So there will not be a new civil war at the present time, but this localized violence between herders and farmers will continue and worsen. AFP and AFP (1-Feb) and Nigerian Eye and Nigerian Government

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Cameroon, Southern Cameroons, Francophone, Paul Biya, Anglophone, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, UPC Revolt, Benue State, Hausa, Faluni tribe, Tiv tribe, Mambila tribe, Bachama tribe
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