Ngarbuh Massacre: traditional ruler testifies as first civilian witness in rare trial for soldiers

The traditional ruler of Ntumbaw Nfor Mohammed took the stand on Thursday,
June 17, 2021 as first civilian in a rare trial for soldiers in Cameroon.

The trial of three members of security forces accused of involvement in the killings of 21 civilians in Ngarbuh, in Cameroon’s North-West region, security resumed on Thursday, at the military court in Yaounde despite requests that the hearing be transferred to the Bamenda military tribunal.

The 64 year old traditional ruler said he had to brave insecurity in the restive english speaking regions and travel to Yaounde for the hearing to represent victims of the massacre. Victims who could not travel for the trial because of lack of funds and security reasons.

In his testimony on Thursday, the leader of Ntumbaw recounted what happened the morning after the massacre.

“On February 14, 2020 in the morning, Shey Djaliai, one of my collaborators, came to inform me that soldiers had killed villagers. It was at night, I could not move because a traditional chief does not see corpses. I sent people to perform rites at the scene and burry the remains. After the rites, I went to the scene on February 14, 2020 accompanied by the Divisional officer of Donga Mantung and Senior Divisional Officer of Ndu. At the scene, we found four graves. Several people were at the scene. A lot of people were crying because the scene was horrible. The villagers informed us that soldiers killed the people. The administrative authorities promised the villagers that the state would do everything to shed light on the matter. 21 people were identified among the registered deaths, on the spot. All of them were buried in the four graves,” the traditional ruler revealed.

In February 2020 Human rights watch (HRW) accused government forces and armed ethnic Fulani’s of killing atleast 21 civilians, including 13 children and 1 pregnant woman.

According to the watchdog, the gruesome killing of civilians in Ngarbuh “was not the first of its kind, but a repetition of the grave human rights violations by the Cameroon security forces in the anglophone regions.”

The trial was adjourned to July 15, 2021.


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