On Monday April 7 2014, we published an opinion piece from human rights activist Sarli Sardou Nana about the plight of Mbororo cattle herders and a chronicle of the events that led to the destruction of their houses at Banjah Village in Bamenda on April 3 2013 by bulldozers hired for the job. The Catholic archdiocese of Bamenda needs the land to construct a University. Talks are presently underway between representatives of the Mbororos. Administrative and church officials about relocating the displaced people. We are now publishing a statement from the archbishops’ office concerning the crisis
Statement signed by Rev. Father Humphrey Tatah Mbuy. Bamenda Archdiocese.
1. In 2010 the Metropolitan Archbishop of Bamenda, His Grace Cornelius Fontem Esua, in his capacity as Chancellor of the Catholic University of Cameroon, CATUC, Bamenda, made a formal request according to the usual traditional practice for a piece of land to HRH the Fon of Ndzah, a village in Bamenda III Sub-Division of Mezam Division, in the N.W.Region of Cameroon.
2. This request was considered and accepted and a piece of land indicated. Thereafter, the Archbishop followed all administrative procedures to officially acquire the piece of land. And when the news of the creation of a Catholic University reached the people and Mbororos of Ndzah they expressed joy, evidenced by a correspondence by Boba Mamada and Sali Mamada on behalf of the Mbororo family of Mamada of 15 June 2010 copying the administration. On 3 August 2010, the same trio addressed another Letter of Appreciation, to HRH the Fon Ndzah, copying all the interested parties, thanking the Fon “for bringing development nearer to us especially the Catholic University.”
3. The Archbishop later applied for a grant of a part of the national land which the Land Consultative Board had allocated through the administrative authorities of Bamenda III Sub Division and Mezam Division. On 22 November 2011, the Bamenda III Land Consultative Board was set up by Prefectoral Order to demarcate this piece of land for the Catholic University. The competent authorities also did the evaluation of what was on the land which directly involved 14 people including two non-Mbororos. And this amounted to 23million five hundred and eighty four thousand two hundred and thirty six francs.
The Mezam Divisional Authorities received this recommendation and after doing their own findings, they endorsed and forwarded the request to the Honourable Minister of State Property and Land Tenure. Based on the competencies of these administrative authorities, and by Arreté No. 000947/K.6.1/MINDAF/D13 of 2 Sept. 2011, the Honourable Minister of State Property and Land Tenure, His Excellency Beleoken Jean Baptiste, made a formal grant of this land to His Grace Cornelius Fontem Esua, pending a payment into the public treasury of a sum of 13 million francs cfa.
4. The Archbishop actually paid the sum of 13 million nine hundred and sixteen thousand nine hundred and forty francs on 22 June 2012; and the Revenue Collector for Lands Mezam, certified an attestation of this payment. On the 11 August 2012, the site plan for the resettlement of the Mbororos displaced from Ndzah Village was made available following a Sub Prefectoral Decision No. 1988 of 11 August 2012 and it clearly shows where each of the Mbororos displaced was to settle. On Monday 1 October 2012, the Archbishop paid the full amounts of compensation to 13 people who turned up for their money.
Only one of them Ardo Adamu Bi Mamada did not collect his amount of 1.056.960frs cfa. Otherwise, the Archbishop of Bamenda paid, as requested, a total cash amount of 22million five hundred and twenty seven thousand, two hundred and seventy six francs cfa to those concerned. Their signatures, Identity Card numbers, and the corresponding amounts which each of them received are documented in the Archbishop’s House, in the Court of First Instance Bamenda and can also be verified from the Letter of the D.O. Bamenda III.
5. By the end of 2012, no serious opposition about the land came from the Fon, the Traditional Council of Ndzah, the Mbororos in Ndzah and the Government of Cameroon. On the contrary everyone was excited that development was coming to Ndzah village. It was not until 2013 that Ardo Adamu Bi Mamada, the same Ardo who, on behalf of the Mamada Family, had signed a letter of appreciation in 2010 to the Fon of Ndzah, now tended an objection to all that had been agreed before.
His objections were however, handled by the Court of First Instance of Bamenda holden at Bamenda, on 31 July 2013. The judgement upheld all the previous arrangements with the Fon of Ndzah, the Traditional Council of Ndzah, the Mbororos of Ndzah, the Administrative authorities of Bamenda III Sub-Division,and Mezam Division and the Honourable Minister of State Property and Land Tenure.
6. On 24 September 2013, the SDO for Mezam through a correspondence, instructed the D.O Bamenda III to ensure that they “quit the mission’s land before December 31st 2013.” However, the Archbishop of Bamenda applied for authorization to begin work on the site, which was duly granted by the City Council. The Court of First Instance, Bamenda, also confirmed by a Certificate of Non-Appeal on 26 February 2014 certifying that there has been no appeal against the judgment of the court. So, on 6 March 2014, the Archbishop of Bamenda notified the Ardo that work would soon begin on the plot acquired for CATUC in Ndzah. On Wednesday 19 March 2014 the Archdiocesan Director of the Office for Lands was on the way to the site to begin work accompanied by a camera man.
7. A certain Mr. Fon Christopher Achobang, who claims to be a “Human Rights Activist” emerged from the bush with a crowd of people, made up of Mbororos and some people said to be from Bambili village. They attacked the caterpillar and the archdiocesan vehicle and thereafter attacked also the Director of Lands, on instructions from Mr. Achobang to kill him. By Divine intervention he managed to escape for safety and ended up in a hospital. The vehicle he used was completely vandalized as well as the caterpillar and the driver.
The said “human rights activist” has not only published false, damaging and misleading information on newspapers and social networks, he is also inciting the Mbororos to rise up against the Church threatening to invite Al Quaeda and Boko Haram to come to their assistance. On 4 April 2014, Friday night about 7.30pm, some 30 Mbororos (men, women and children) invaded the privacy of the Cathedral Parish until the intervention of the Administration.
8. It would be wrong to give the impression that the Mbororos of Ndzah have been treated unfairly. Some media houses have insinuated that the Archbishop was only granted 46 hectares and that the property of the Mbororos was outside this land. The facts on the ground contradict these claims. The Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Bamenda stands for justice, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.
In fact we have very good relationships with all Christian denominations and religions. Therefore, the insinuations about Al Quaeda and Boko Haram are uncalled for. Cameroon is a State of Law, and no Cameroonian can imagine that he is above the law. We therefore call on all Catholic Christians, all other Christians and all people of good will including the other Mbororo families who took their money and have settled somewhere else, to remain calm; to show more love towards our Mbororo brothers and sisters; and to continue to pray for peace in this our fatherland.
Done at Bamenda this day Wednesday 9 April 2014
Rev. Father Humphrey Tatah Mbuy