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General News of Monday, 24 November 2014

Source: The Post Newspaper

Biya petitioned over land-grabbing, human rights abuses

The people of Baicham Village in Boyo Division, Northwest Region, have expressed annoyance over what they term excessive quest for land by Alhadji Baba Danpullo.

According to a memo addressed to President Paul Biya, in July 2013, rumours were rife that the Fon of Kom, HRH Vincent Yuh, sent a group of people to meet the Chief of Baicham, Thomas Winbong Mawoh, who was ill and bed-ridden and request for land for the son of Baba Danpullo. The Chief reportedly rejected the request.

The natives however, sent a delegation to the Fon of Kom, telling him that there was no extra land left for grazing because their children have occupied the land. “The very team, with the late Divisional Officer for Belo, decided to christen the land ‘National Land’, meaning that anyone can take the land from us because we have no land certificate,” read the memo in part.

The petition further stated that upon receiving the letter from Baicham, the Fon of Kom reacted with an announcement dated October 19, 2013, a copy of which was sent to Boyo Community Radio. This was followed by another letter to the Fon of Kom reminding him of Baicham people’s position as concerns the land in Ibal Abu.

“While things were being sorted out, others villagers were already taking advantage of our Fon’s long illness writing letters claiming that these letters were coming from the Fon and receiving money from Danpullo,” further states the memo.

The people of Baicham said they were astonished when on November 5, 2013, when DO and Danpullo presented themselves in Baicham with a speech purportedly written by the Fon of Kom.

A power of attorney signed by the Chief, requesting one of his sons to represent him and ensure that Danpullo leaves his land was read by the late DO for Belo, in front of Danpullo, and the entire village insisted that the son be presented, to no avail.

“Your Excellency, what the common man has been saying on the street is that nothing can happen to Alhadji and that nobody can do anything to Alhaji because he is your personal friend. The question we are asking is; should the friend of the Head of State assist him to succeed in his policies, or fuel sentiments that can undermine public peace?”

The Baicham villagers hold that people occupying top positions encourage and provoke violence, instead of curbing it.

The population said they are not protected because, cows have destroyed their crops and their children are dying of starvation, but the Government is indifferent.

“Since we started complaining to the Government, nobody cares. We are asking Danpullo a compensation of FCFA 100 million for trespass and destruction of our cash crops. If Baicham people did not embrace the force of argument as opposed to violence, there could have been no peace in the area,” the memo reads.

On Chieftaincy dispute, the people decried attempts by the DO and Danpullo to enthrone a candidate whom the whole village had rejected. However, the SDO for Boyo is said to have warned that only the people of Baicham shall choose and enthrone their Chief, but the group is bent on doing the contrary.

“Despite the SDO’s warning that Chieftaincy issue should not surface or be discussed in Baicham, the forces against the development of Baicham, have vowed not to stop the bad practice and, each day, there are attempts to enthrone someone, thus, threatening public peace.

The petition further informs President Biya on the uneasy calm reigns in Baicham because the population is patiently waiting for a solution to this problem.

“The people are frightened because the thugs have resorted to blackmail, lies telling and illegal detentions of elites of Baicham. A glaring example is the detention of James Ndi Munteh in Fundong, who allegedly visited Danpullo and collected FCFA 5 million from him.

The villagers want Biya to: send Danpullo out of Baicham village; warn Danpullo and Fon of Nkom against interfering in their tradition and for Danpullo to compensate them for the crops his cattle have damaged. Meantime, all attempts to get to Alhaji Baba Danpullo were abortive.