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Kidnapping of John Fru Ndi

John Fru Ndi has been kidnapped twice during the Anglophone Crisis. The first incident was a brief and bloodless yet significant event in the ongoing war. Fru Ndi, who is the chairperson of Cameroon's largest opposition party, the SDF, was held by Ambazonian separatist fighters before being released later on the same day. The second incident was more dramatic, with gunmen breaking into his home, shooting his bodyguard in the leg[2] and subjecting Fru Ndi to a rough treatment.[3]

First kidnapping of John Fru Ndi
Part of the Anglophone Crisis
Fru Ndi kidnapped.png
Fru Ndi in conversation with his kidnappers
Date27 April 2019
LocationWainama, Bui, Northwest Region, Cameroon[1]
MotivePressure Fru Ndi to withdraw all SDF legislators from the National Assembly and the Senate
OutcomeFru Ndi released after refusing to give in to the kidnappers' demand
DeathsNone

First kidnappingEdit

BackgroundEdit

On April 27 2019, Fru Ndi travelled to Kumbo to attend the funeral of Joseph Banadzem, the Parliamentary group leader of the SDF. Due to the security situation in the area, the governor of the Northwest Region offered Fru Ndi a military escort to protect against any potential separatist attacks. Fru Ndi declined, saying that the appearance of a military convoy would only serve to provoke an attack. Local separatist militias had announced that they would not interfere with the funeral, provided that no Francophone Cameroonians participated.[1]

KidnappingEdit

According to Fru Ndi, the encounter began when gunmen approached his funeral convoy in Wainana, Bui Division. They said they wanted to talk with Fru Ndi, and that the convoy should go on without him. He replied that he had wanted to talk to them, but protested on the circumstances. The gunmen said that it would not take long, and Fru Ndi agreed to accompany them to a nearby school. Four of his aides came with him as the gunmen drove off. However, when the gunmen drove off to a valley, it became clear to Fru Ndi that he had actually been abducted.

It turned out that the gunmen's intention was to pressure Fru Ndi into withdrawing all SDF legislators from the National Assembly and the Senate. Fru Ndi replied that he would not, stating that it would be counterproductive to boycott the only forum where they could talk to President Biya. After Fru Ndi had refused to relent multiple times, the gunmen gave up and released him and his four aides after almost seven hours. Fru Ndi returned to his home in Bamenda unharmed.[4]

AftermathEdit

By opting to travel without a military escort, Fru Ndi exposed himself, but also prevented a possible escalation. The SDF convened an emergency meeting after the incident's conclusion.[2]

Following the abduction, the SDF directed sharp criticism against the Cameroonian government. In a statement, it blamed President Biya for losing control over Northwest Region and Southwest Region to militias and armed gangs. It asserted that this predicament could only be ailed through inclusive dialogue.[5]

Second kidnappingEdit

Second kidnapping of John Fru Ndi
Part of the Anglophone Crisis
Date28-29 June, 2019
LocationBamenda, Northwest Region, Cameroon
MotivePressure Fru Ndi to withdraw all SDF legislators from the National Assembly and the Senate
OutcomeFru Ndi released after more than 24 hours
Non-fatal injuriesOne bodyguard shot in the leg

On June 28, 2019, gunmen entered Fru Ndi's home in Bamenda. Unlike the first incident, this time he was subjected to beating, insults and being dragged through the mud. After being dragged out of his home, he was forced into a van and driven off to an unknown location. Fru Ndi's bodyguard was shot in the leg during the incident, and was rushed to a hospital.[3]

After spending some time in a cell, Fru Ndi was given a bamboo bed to sleep on. Despite his poor health, he was not offered food that night, nor did he get to take his medicines. The next morning, he was given an ultimatum: the separatists demanded that he declared on camera that he would recall all SDF parliamentarians and mayors within 24 hours. The separatists argued that the SDF harmed their cause, which Fru Ndi countered by arguing that the party had done a lot for Anglophone Cameroonians. He made a vague promise to talk to SDF politicians, and to then get back to the separatists. The separatists told him he had never visited them before, to which he replied that he had never been invited. Fru Ndi was also accused of ordering the Cameroonian Army to attack separatist camps in the vicinity of Bamenda, which he strongly denied.[6] In the end, the separatists forced him to be photographed with the flag of Ambazonia,[3] before he was driven back to his residence late at night. He returned to his home with a swollen head and an elbow injury.[2]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Cameroon: SDF Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi released after brief kidnap, Journal du Cameroun, Apr 27, 2019. Accessed Apr 27, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Cameroon: Kidnapped SDF Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi released, Journal du Cameroun, Jun 29, 2019. Accessed Jun 29, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Cameroon: How Ambazonia fighters tortured Fru Ndi in captivity!, Journal du Cameroun, Jul 1, 2019. Accessed Jul 1, 2019.
  4. ^ NW/SW: SDF Chairman John Fru Ndi speaks out after abduction, Cameroon Radio Television, Apr 30, 2019. Accessed May 1, 2019.
  5. ^ Cameroon: SDF says gov’t has lost control of Anglophone regions, Journal du Cameroun, Apr 29, 2019. Accessed Jul 8, 2019.
  6. ^ In Cameroon, Fru Ndi captured and released in grinding Anglophone crisis, The African Report, Jul 1, 2019. Accessed Jul 2, 2019.