Cameroon: Outcry over police extortion of half a million from Anglophone in Yaounde
“The police stood across the road from where I was being robbed but they did nothing, I was helpless!” a young Yaounde city dweller cries out.
The victim who spoke to MMI on the basis of anonymity lost his phone and money as he was robbed at Poste Centrale in broad daylight on Friday.
Threatened with a knife, he says “I surrendered all they asked for under the watchful eyes if the police and local population but no one came to rescue me.”
He is not the only victim of an attack – as there are rising calls against police brutality and extortion in Cameroon’s major cities with many requesting that the forces be called to order.
The calls have intensified after a social media influencer, Pius Bery took on Facebook, narrating his ordeal with the police.
Pius who hails from the minority English Speaking restive North West region says he was pulled over by uniformed officers on Thursday evening in the nation’s capital, Yaounde where he resides.
After searching his car, demanding his ID and car documents and finding no fault, he says the officers proceeded to search his phone, after brutalising him to give them access to the device.
“… The next thing I got was a hot slap from their boss who said “This is not Bamenda or Buea where you can make noise and talk about your rights. This is Yaounde and we can send you wherever we want whether you’re guilty or not” he explained.
After finding nothing incriminating on his device, Pius says “… The guy who was browsing through my phones loitered around and went inside the car. After a few minutes, he called for their boss. They talked for some minutes… These guys somehow transferred countless Amba related photos, videos, and screenshots into my phones which they showed to me and said we are the ones killing people in the North West and South West”.
He adds that he was then handcuffed but not taken to any detention unit. After driving through town for some time, the officers, he says took him to another spot where about five other policemen were waiting for them.
“They asked me to come down and I did, their overall boss who was in the other van came down and greeted me with some slaps. After some back and forth, he asked me “Do you want us to wait for the day to break so we can write our statement and send you where you belong or you want to go back home?”” He narrates.
Fearing for his life, he says he had to bargain, finally settling on 500,000FCFA in exchange for his freedom, instead of 2,000,000FCFA as initially requested.
He says “they drove me to the ATM where I withdrew 350,000FCFA to add to the 150,000FCFA I had on me and gave it to them.”
Tip of the iceberg
The town of Yaounde, where 87-year-old President Paul Biya resides is said to be one of the cities rife with alarming insecurity and police brutality.
Since Pius shared his story, many other social media users, especially those living in the minority Anglophone regions have been sharing their experiences with security forces, calling on authorities to rein them in.
Despite the outcry, authorities and even the police have maintained sealed lips, a move many says suggests complicity.
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