A handful of protestors claiming to be owners of land and property failed to unsettle the ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the Higher Technical Teachers’ Training College, HTTTC Kumba, on Friday, June 2.
The protesters, about eight in number and who emerged from the Mahole neighbourhood at Three Corners Fiango, claimed they were wrongfully dispossessed of their land and houses within the area allocated to host the HTTC.
They came wielding placards when the Minister of Higher Education, Prof. Jacques Fame Ndongo, was laying the foundation stone.
Messages on the placards which soon disappeared, following reactions from security and administrative authorities, decried injustice, discrimination and the non-respect of basic human rights and the rule of law.
Some of the placards read: ” Civil servants are not civil masters”, “Cameroon is a State of law and not disorder”, ”We are not against the construction of HTTTC Kumba, we love development and not destruction”, ”Cameroon is one and indivisible with the respect of human rights”, ”No to injustice!” Central Police Commissioner, Wilson Elong, was quick to intervene and stopped the protesters from a distance to where the Minister and his entourage sat. Immediately, police and gendarmes cordoned off the protesters from gaining more attention.
Meanwhile, the Divisional Officer for Kumba III, Gilbert Gubai Baldena, collected the placards from the protesters and urged them to be calm while waiting for Government response regarding their plight.
The SDO for Meme, Chamberlin Ntou’ou Ndong, also calmed the protestors but expressed surprise at the demonstration, remarking that he received some of the protestors in his office a few days before the ceremony.
Ntou’ou Ndong disclosed that issues relating to indemnities have been tabled to the appropriate quarters. He said there was no need for any public demonstration, given that discussions were in progress.
Unperturbed by the feeble demonstration, the Minister of Higher Education went on presiding over the foundation laying ceremony.
He rather expressed gratitude to the Minister of State Property and Land Tenure, the Meme administration, UB Vice Chancellor, Dr. Nalova Lyonga, and Chief Dr. Gabriel Ebanja of Mukonje Village, for efforts made towards getting the land for academic purposes.
For his part, Chief Ebanja said their efforts had started yielding tangible results. “This would remove every doubt from anyone who has been harbouring a negative attitude towards this higher institution of learning,” said Chief Ebanja.
“While the University has come to stay, we are praying that this should be the last time an occasion like this is being held on a temporary site.
Everything else concerning this University, would, in the nearest future, be done on a permanent site,” said Ebanja.
Ebanja, however, said though a majority of the population was happy with the progress the HTTTC has made, they were still disturbed by the present situation in the country whereby the schools in the Northwest and Southwest Regions are not functioning.
“Please, without any recourse to force, we are praying to our Creator to guide you to bring a peaceful and permanent solution to the current impasse,” Ebanja told the Higher Education Minister. Protest
The expression of disgruntlement by some villagers with regard to the location of the HTTTC had started from the first time the idea was mooted in 2014. On several occasions, Chief Ebanja had been dragged to the chambers of the SDO and the DO as well as the court by villagers claiming land ownership in the Mukonjo Chiefdom.
Early this year, some 80 villagers stormed the palace of Nfon V.E Mukete, Paramount Ruler of the Bafaws, decrying threat to life and indiscriminate arrest.
Nfon Mukete, who himself has dragged Chief Ebanja to court several times, had said he could not intervene because he is still waiting for a panel to decide on an appeal he took regarding the ownership of the land.
While the areas allocated for the HTTTC is known officially to be part of Mukonje Chiefdom, the Bafaw leader is still objecting the decision. During the laying of the foundation of the HTTTC, Nfon Mukete was not present although a seat had been reserved for him.
The Post Newspaper