Separatists in Cameroon’s restive regions under the so-called ‘Republic of Ambazonia’ have named a new leader in the person of one Sako Ikome Samuel.
The new development comes in the wake of the arrest and deportation of Julius Ayuk Tabe, the group’s known leader. Tabe and 46 others were handed over to Cameroon from Nigerian authorities after they were arrested in an Abuja hotel in January 2018.
In his first address posted on Youtube, Ikome Samuel in his capacity as Acting President of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia declared that the movement had now entered an era of individual and communal self defense.
“Now is the era of self-defense. From effective personal self defense to legitimate Ambazonia community protection programs to stop the wanton destruction of lives and our property in Ambazonia.
“We are therefore going to work to accredit and embrace all self defense and security groups that will endorse our IG rules of engagement. I will be reaching out to all in the days ahead,” he stressed in the over 21 minutes address.
He described the stage of the separatist struggle as at a precipice. He blamed the arrest of Tabe and 11 others as a planned effort by Nigeria, Cameroon and the French government. According to him, he will continue to serve British southern Cameroonians against French Cameroon.
Cameroonian authorities in November 2017 issued international arrest warrants for fifteen leaders of the Anglophone separatist consortium known as the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC).
According to a local website, the main target was Sisiku Ayuk Tabe who is being held by authorities in Yaounde awaiting trail.
The government accuses the group of being behind rising violence in the northwestern and southwestern regions. The two areas known as ‘Anglophone Cameroon’ has been at the heart of clashes between pro-government forces and secessionists.
According to him, the Ambazonia nation was birthed in October 2017 when the group were met with forces by security elements in a move to declare symbolic independence. Deaths were reported, scores were injured and hundreds others arrested in raids.
An ensuing guerilla style of attacks on security forces – police, soldiers, gendarmes, led President Paul Biya to declare war on the group. Reprisal attacks have led to thousands fleeing the region into the forest and into Nigeria.
The United Nations and Cross River State of Nigeria continue to receive thousands of people streaming into communities. The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, says the numbers continue to increase.