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General News of Saturday, 2 August 2014

Source: The Guardian Post Newspaper

Where is Amadou Ali’s wife?

Where is Amadou Ali’s wife? No one, not even the minister of communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary well known for his swift reaction to burning state issues, has been able to state the exact location of the wife of the vice prime minister, minister delegate at the presidency in charge of relations with the assemblies who was kidnapped by militants of the Nigerian Islamist terror group, Boko Haram last Sunday.

Even as the whereabouts of the vice prime minister’s wife is still undeclared, conflicting reports on the exact number of people who died and those who were kidnapped on July 27 in Kolofata have also taken centre stage within newspaper columns.

The reluctance of competent authorities to give clear information on the latest developments of the historic abduction has plunged both local and international media into speculative reports which have more or less got the public more confused.

While a portion of mostly the international media holds that Ali’s wife was released 24 hours after she was abducted, other foreign media outlets have been reporting that the Cameroonian army succeeded to rescue the vice prime minister’s wife from the hands of Boko Haram. “Daily Post,” a Lagos-based newspaper in Nigeria reported on July 29 that Ali’s wife was whisked off from the grip of Boko Haram who attempted to take her away.

French international radio channel, RFI had equally reported one day after the stand-off that Mrs. Ali was shortly after her abduction released. Another foreign media, journaldebangui.com, a Central African Republic online news site merely headlined a report which read: “The wife of a vice prime minister kidnapped and released.”

But beyond the media reports purporting the release of Ali’s wife, other media organs, notably the local media have maintained an affirmative stand that the kidnapped wife, as of the moment, is still in the keeping of her abductors.

French language daily newspaper, Le Jour reported yesterday on its front page: “Amadou Ali retourne seule à Yaoundé,” translated in English language as “Amadou Ali returns alone to Yaounde.”According to the report, the vice prime minister arrived at the Nsimalen international airport on Wednesday without his wife and headed straight to the presidency.

Issa Tchiroma had on the evening of the event told a press conference that Amadou Ali’s wife had been kidnapped by militants of Boko Haram. The communication minister said Ali’s wife was abducted after a fierce scuffle between the militants and the Cameroonian army. He did not make any further statement as to whether Ali’s wife was later released.

Meanwhile, the state media - CRTV and Cameroon Tribune have also sided with the private media to point out that Boko Haram is yet to release Amadou Ali’s wife.

In the midst of the diverse versions, some opinion holders have on their part resorted to observations that do not make things any better for the regime. While others hold that the regime may simply be playing around to conceal the truth from the public, others say a successful release of the captive from the abductors would be a big score for the regime and that if at all Ali’s wife was released, the later would have used it as a yard stick to boast of its military and intelligence expertise.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram on the other hand is yet to make any statement.

Recapitulation The vice prime minister, minister delegate at the presidency in charge of relations with the assemblies, Amadou Ali left Yaounde on Monday, July 26 to the Far North region where he had intended to join his fellow folks commemorate the Feast of Ramadan.

Ali was not alone; he left Yaounde alongside his family: his wife, cook and two of his sons. While in Maroua, the chief town of the Far North region from where he had to drive to his hometown – Kolofata, the vice prime minister asked his family to go ahead of him, reportedly with no stated reason.

It is not yet clear why the regime attendant asked to stay behind, but observers say Ali who has served in many capacities including the intelligence of the Biya regime may have gathered prior information that something of bad taste was awaiting him at home.

Early morning on Sunday, July 27, Amadou Ali’s Kolofata residence was besieged by a multitude of heavily armed Boko Haram militants. A military spokesperson put the number at over 400 militants. They broke into the deputy prime minister’s residence, firing shots. They succeeded to break the doors and met Ali’s family in the house.

When they surrounded the first victim at gun point, they first of all enquired to know Ali’s whereabouts. The reply they got was certainly not satisfactory and so they fired shots at those who attempted to resist their interrogations or run away. In effect, Ali’s cook and two sons were killed. They also succeeded to make away with his wife.

Some sources however say the operation at Ali’s residence met with stiff counter attack by the Cameroonian army. These sources say in the course of the scuffle, Amadou Ali whom they say was present in the house was taken away by the Cameroonian army to a neighbouring town. The militants on their retreat set Ali’s compound ablaze. The building was completely ravaged by fire including its contents.

In a separate attack same day, the militants looted and plundered the residence of the Lamido (traditional authority) of Kolofata, Seini Boukar Lamine who is also the town’s mayor; ferried him and other members of his family away.

The reporters who visited the Maroua regional hospital after the attack told The Guardian Post that, the hospital morgue was full as 24 bodies of dead soldiers in Cameroon army gear were brought in while some four others were taken elsewhere for lack of space. But Lt. Colonel Didier Badjeck, head of communication division at the ministry of defence simply told reporters to give the army time to count their losses and give an appropriate report.

Two days after the plunder on Ali’s residence, President Biya for unexplained reasons dismissed two senior army officials. According to the decree, announced over state radio, Colonel Youssa Gedeon, commander of the Gendarmerie Legion in the North and Lieutenant-Colonel Justin Ngonga, commander of the 34th motorised infantry battalion in the same region, were both dismissed.

No exact account has been given of the reasons behind the expulsions. Unofficial reports say the legion commander was fired because he had converted the military lorry into a business venture. Youssa is said to have on several occasions located the military truck on charter to carry maize from the borders with Nigeria. The truck is even said to have been seized on one occasion.

As of Lieutenant-Colonel Justin Ngonga, he is accused of having underground cables with Boko Haram. Reports say he had once been warned of an imminent Boko Haram attack, but later deserted the battalion and ran away, abandoning the soldiers on their own.

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