North Region: More Than 30 People Killed in Mob Justice Between 2018 and 2022
North Region: More Than 30 People Killed in Mob Justice Between 2018 and 2022
Between stoning, burning and flogging, the phenomenon has been on a rise in the region since 2018. The above-mentioned figures do not, however, represent the reality on the field, as it is difficult to establish accurate statistics on cases of mob justice and the number of deaths caused by this phenomenon in this part of the country Killed in Mob Justice Between.
On 19 April 2022, traffic was disrupted at the Yelwa federal junction in Garoua, chief-town of the North region. A huge crowd has invaded one side of the road. A fire engine is parked not far from the old cemetery of Wouro Ourso, policemen regulate road traffic.
At the centre of the agitated crowd, branches of trees are piled up. « These leaves cover the body of a man who has just been killed, » testifies Catherine Foulna, who answers to the numerous questions of onlookers on the scene. « These are his murderers. But there is no identification, » uttered a police officer present on the scene.
Mohamadou Laminou, helpless witness described the scene that has become recurrent in Garoua. He opined, « A crowd armed with clubs, stones, sticks and other dangerous objects chased this guy. To escape, he tried to climb the wall of the cemetery, but he slipped and fell. By the time he got up, he was caught. «
This manhunt began a few hours earlier at the Chinese Camp in Garoua. Alihou Bouba explained, « a motorcycle taxi driver parked his motorcycle to relieve himself by the road and this man, passing by, started the motorcycle and ran away. The owner alerted his friends. They chased the suspect and caught him here to inflict on him this punishment. » According to the Forensic Doctor present on the scene, he died from his injuries and burns.
On 11 May 2022, the corpse of Alim Garga was found in front of the Liza bakery in Garoua. The lifeless body showed signs of stoning and burns. In Garoua, it has become very common for corpses to be found. This is an old story, for Dr Abdel Nasser, Forensic Scientist and Lecturer at the Faculty of Legal and Political Sciences at the University of Garoua.
He recalled the story of three butchers stoned to death on 11 August 1997 for selling dog meat instead of beef. According to the specialist, in view of spreading this phenomenon in the region, all indications are clear that the population of this region solves their problems by themselves, which is violent.
The 301st Garoua Fire Company Emergency Centre discovered 63 lifeless bodies between 2019 and November 2022. That is; 08 lifeless bodies between January and November 2022, 20 lifeless bodies in 2021, 14 lifeless bodies in 2020 and 21 lifeless bodies in 2019.
However, it is difficult to establish accurate statistics on cases of mob justice and the number of deaths resulting from it. According to the State of Human Rights in the Cameroon 2017 report by the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, mob justice or lynching refers to a collective and cursory act by which a group of people inflict physical violence with the aim of killing a suspect for having committed a crime or offence, regardless of whether death results.
Upsurge in the Number of Cases
Daniel Ndakbo, the National Chairman of the Action citoyenne intègre (ACI) and Northern Regional Coordinator of the Observatoire des libertés publiques du Cameroun (Olpc) said that not a week goes by without a case of mob justice in Garoua. « I could save one in December 2022 at the Grand Marché, he was accused of stealing a motorcycle, » he added. An observation backed by Abdou Pierre, correspondent of the newspaper L’action in the North. Victims are molested or burned, some die in hospital,” he uttered.
According to the ACI survey, as Daniel Ndakbo pointed out, 80% of the discovered bodies have been victims of assault by motorcycle taxi drivers, 10% of settling of scores and 10% resulting from esoteric sects and others. » ACI intends to advocate for the reinforcement of the asset security mechanism with the defence and security forces and to sensitize on various alert systems in case of danger through the Cdhc’s 1523 hotline, » he indicated.
At the Court of First Instance of Garoua, not a single case was registered on mob justice during the month of December 2022. Charles Bogagne, a magistrate at the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Appeal in the North region, believes there is no crime known as ‘mob justice’. This phenomenon is rather a pit of violations. » Mob justice is not the only violation. It includes several infractions: destruction, violence, murder, assassination, theft, assault, mortal assault, injury, influence peddling, conditional threats, etc. » he detailed, adding that each infraction violation is separately punished by the law.
In an article published in the newspaper L’œil du Sahel October 19, 2018, about 15 alleged motorcycle thieves were murdered in Garoua by self-immolation between January and October 2018. From several reliable security sources, there were 10 deaths from burning and stoning in 2022 in Garoua. The police source noted, « It is therefore difficult to have figures. » Some injured died in their family houses, others died in health centre.
In an article published on 26 April 2022 on the website stopblablacam.com, James Mouangue Kobila, Chairperson of the Cameroon Human Rights Commission (CHRC) pointed out that from January to October 2021, the CHRC recorded 19 cases of mob justice in Cameroon, three of which were in the Centre region, five in the Littoral region, six in the North region and five in the North West region.
According to DrAbdel Nasser, a number of reasons account for this phenomenon in the North, one of which is the hot climate. « Many criminal studies conducted on human behaviour about the prevailing climate in the regions have shown that most violent infractions are carried out in hot areas; people are very nervous. But I think the main reason is because of criminal law. There is a loss of confidence in the population especially on the repressive justice of the state. They believe that justice is lax or soft on offenders, » explained the criminologist. According to him, it is impossible to legitimise this phenomenon, which is full of expedient errors and lacks proportionality, even though it participates in one way or the other in the regularisation of the society.
Dr Serge-André Batikalak, Sociologist and Lecturer at the Faculty of Education of the University of Garoua believed mob justice is a social reality related to several social phenomena. These include mob phenomenon, breakdown and anomie of the entire society, drug consumption, poverty and especially injustice. He said, » we live in a society where norms and principles are no longer respected. Such cases show the gap that exists between citizens and the law. »
To fill this gap, the criminal scientist recommends restoring population’s confidence in the judiciary system and improving working conditions for those involved. Dr. Abdel Nasser suggested, » in order to reduce the phenomenon of mob justice, we can rely on the vigilante groups to lend a hand to the judicial authorities by providing them with the necessary security equipment. »
Dr. Charles Tchouata Foudjio, Psychologist, Vice-Dean in Charge of Programming and Monitoring Academic Activities at the Faculty of Education Sciences of the University of Garoua, stresseed that from a psychological point of view, « it is so embarrassing and traumatising for those who experience this phenomenon. Besides, it creates a feeling of insecurity in the society. Any young person who learns that one can catch and kill a thief instead of taking him to the gendarmerie is not getting a good education for the development of our society.
Killed in Mob Justice Between Ramifications
In Canadi quarter, a few kilometres from Djamboutou in Garoua, Guida Guida (assumed name) felt unsafe after him and his friends have denounced two motorcycle thieves. He complained, « in October 2022, we arrested two major thieves who were snatching motorcycles and we handed them over to the competent authorities. But these thieves were later released.
A military source explained that the reaction of the population is the outcome of the State’s judicial services. According to our source, » there are many ramifications in the State’s judicial services. Sometimes, criminals are the ones who ask to be brought before the court for convenient reasons. Two weeks after their arrests, the accused are freed. They then return to those who arrested them to taunt them, but above all to show a formal version of their banditry and their impunity. This makes the population feel in danger and they then organise their personal justice. »
Elements of the Special Team for Rapid Intervention (Esir) in the North are fighting against urban crime daily in Garoua. From an officer of this police force, between May and June 2022, at least 65 people aged between 11 and 25 were arrested and transferred to the judicial and central police stations for investigation Killed in Mob Justice Between.
Between April and December 2022, a total of 164 transfers were recorded. « The hotspot is Yelwa at a place called Carrefour federal, the most dangerous corner of Garoua, » stated a source at the regional delegation of National Security in the North. According to the same source, out of 60 people transferred, 40 are from Yelwa and others are from different sub division in Garoua.
Killed in Mob Justice Between Criminality
Daniel Dakbo noted that there is a relationship between crime and mob justice. According to him, there are cases of motorcycle theft with the use of bladed weapons and assaults which end up with the death of the victim. He continued by saying that urban crime is on the rise because of the congestion in the town leading to a shortage of living space.
In a study conducted by the Central Bureau of Census and Population Studies in Cameroon (Bucreb), the population of the North region has increased from 1,687,959 inhabitants in 2010 to 2,050,229 inhabitants in 2020.
At the Garoua military court, most trials involve illegal possession of arms, munitions of war and defence, arrests and serious kidnappings. According to the Garoua military court, Bénoué has been the most criminogenic department in the region for the past four years, with an estimated rate of 67.31% in 2022, followed by Mayo-Rey with 14.14%. The department of Faro has a crime rate of 9.75% and Mayo-Louti with 8.78%.
Over the past two years, more than 25 million CFA francs has been paid to the public treasury by this court. This amount accounts for the bond fees and pecuniary sentences pronounced for the benefit of the State.
According to Battalion Commander Martin Paul Effangono, Government Commissioner at the Garoua military court, 205 criminal cases were open in 2022. The office of criminal affairs enrolled 240 cases in 2021 as against 438 enrolled in 2022 in which 294 judgments were pronounced as against 181 in 2022.
Jérôme Baïmélé in Garoua.