‘Feymen’ (conmen) have taken advantage of the Anglophone Crisis and are using the rampant and haphazard arrests to swindle English-speaking Cameroonians.
One of the feymen, who claimed to be Captain Gerard Atabong working at the Gendarmerie Headquarters (SED) in Yaounde, last weekend attempted to dupe The Post Douala Bureau Chief, Joe Dinga Pefok.
He also attempted the same trick on The Post Limbe Bureau Chief, Francis Tim Mbom, and Kumba Bureau Chief, Maxcel Fokwen.
‘Captain Atabong’ called Pefok, like the others, purporting that his name was on the list of some Anglophones which SED has earmarked for arrests between May 29 and June 2, in connection to the Anglophone Crisis.
Pefok narrates the story: “It all started at about 12.30 pm on Friday, May 26, when somebody called and asked if I was Dinga Pefok.
He presented himself as Captain Gerard Atabong of SED. He said he called me the previous day to inform me that he will be in Douala on Friday, but I did not pick the call.
He said he was in Douala and wanted to meet me urgently for an important discussion.
When I asked what the problem was, he said it was not something we could discuss over the phone, and that the issue concerned me.
However, I told the purported Gendarmerie Captain that I had just left central town and was on my way to Bonaberi for something very important, and that I would get back to him as soon as I return.”
Pefok said when he returned, at about 6.15pm and called ‘Captain’ Atabong, the man said he was on his way back to Yaounde, and that since he was driving, he would only talk to him later.
“On Saturday, May 27, I realised that there was a missed call from the purported Captain Atabong.
I called him back, and he asked if I was alone, and I affirmed. He said what he was about to tell me was something that must be kept very secret, and that it was something which could cause him his job if it is discovered that he had leaked the information to me.
He then told me that my name was on a list of some Anglophones that have to be arrested [this week] in connection to the Anglophone Crisis.
He said he has taken the risk to hint me because he is an Anglophone too, but above all, because he has a close friend in the Pefok Family.
That I should stay out of limelight by going underground, and if possible, I should leave the country. He insisted that I needed to take action very fast, or it will be too late.”
At first, Atabong did not talk about money. He simply presented himself as a Good Samaritan.
He painted a pathetic picture of torture, which he said, Anglophone detainees are subjected to.
On the crime committed by Pefok to warrant an arrest, Atabong said the security service had tapped Pefok’s MTN phone, and also got from MTN printed copies of SMS containing some sensitive messages he received as well as some he sent out in connection to the Anglophone Crisis.
When Pefok said he has done nothing against security, Atabong, said “when the regime wants to get somebody it can always fabricate evidence to incriminate him.”
‘If You Can Take Care Of Us, Then…
When Pefok asked if there was anything he could do, Atabong said if he could “take care” of the team charged with the arrest, they would delay their operation for a few days to enable him either go underground or leave the country.
“When I ruled out the idea of going underground or leaving the country, he said there was another alternative, but just that the financial package would have to be really heavy to persuade them to take such a risky and complicated measure.
He said they could look for a way to take off my name from the list and replace it with a similar but fake name. At that point I became convinced that he was a conman, but I decided to play on.”
The conman said his team charged with carrying out the arrests comprises six senior security officers (four Francophones and two Anglophones).
He said if Pefok could offer them something big for the second option, they would delete his name from the soft and hard copies of the list.
He said Pefok should rush to Yaounde that same day with something reasonable, and that he will send one of his ‘elements’ to the bus station to bring him to where they were.
When Pefok told Atabong that he could not travel to Yaounde when his name is on the list to be arrested, Atabong immediately came up with another proposal: send the money through one of the money transfer agencies.
“At that point I told him that I had no money on me, and that it was a weekend, Atabong asked him to go and look for money so that there would be something to present to his colleagues to show that Pefok was serious, then the rest should be sent on Monday, May 29.
‘Kondengui Is Hell On Earth’
When Pefok said he had no money, Atabong warned of the risk of being arrested, and how Kondengui Prison where he would be detained is “real hell on earth”.
Atabong advised that everything should be done on that Saturday to raise some money.
He repeatedly claimed that his real interest was not money, but to save Pefok, and that he was demanding money because of his colleagues.
After an hour, Atabong again called.
Pefok, who had decided not to go any further did not pick the call and at about 4.00pm, Atabong sent him an SMS.
“He told me that it was in my interest to pick his calls and follow his advice. He said I was behaving like Tim Finnian who refused to follow advice because he thought he had connections and, today, he is languishing in Kondengui Prison.
He advised me to act wisely before it is too late. (Tim Finnian, a Bamenda based newspaper publisher, was arrested in connection to a story alleging that some of the youths who were arrested in Bamenda and taken to Yaounde died].
SED Official Dismisses Allegation
After receiving the SMS, Pefok called a newspaper publisher who hails from the Southwest Region and knows most Southwest elite in Yaounde.
The publisher said he did not know of any Captain Atabong. Someone close to the Atabong family of Lebialem, was contacted and he said there is no Gendarmerie Captain in the family.
A call to Yaounde to someone close to the Secretary of State in charge of the National Gendarmerie, Jean Baptiste Bokam, caused the person to immediately swing into action, and one of the Directors at SED was requested to check the veracity of the information.
The response was that SED presently has no list of Anglophones that are about to be arrested and that there is no Captain Atabong at SED.
Feymen Exploiting Arbitrary Arrests!
Meanwhile, feymen have been exploiting the situation of arbitrary arrests of many Anglophones during the ongoing crisis, to make money.
This connotes the idea that some Anglophones who have gone underground or have run out of the country may be victims of feymen like ‘Captain Atabong’ or some have lost reasonable sums of money to these fake security officers.
In the case of the Tim Mbom and Maxcel Fokwen, they advised ‘Captain Atabong’ to rather call the Managing Editor of their Newspaper and no call has come.