The press freedom in Cameroon !

Cameroon Journalists call for justice after the brutal abduction and assassination of popular journalist and Whistleblower, Martinez Zogo.


Cameroonian Journalists are calling for justice to take its course after well-known journalist and Whistleblower Martinez Zogo’s dead body was found in Soa, a neighborhood of Cameroon’s political headquarters Yaounde. Zogo earlier announced he could one day be killed because he was investigating cases of corruption and embezzlement of public funds involving government officials. The regular abduction and torture of journalists in Cameroon is not rare. Almost all media organizations in Cameroon have condemned the killing of Zogo, whom they describe as a courageous reporter who always fought against government officials who have never ceased mismanaging state funds.

Speaking on « Radio Balafon », a radio station based in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital reporter and human rights activist Xavier Messe said, « Zogo was closely monitored, abducted and brutally assassinated by people… It’s rather unfortunate that journalists have become targets especially by politicians and people who think that journalists should not exercise their duties as they are supposed to do. They expect these journalists to first enquire with the politicians before publishing any report linked to corruption and mismanagement of public funds”.

Martinez Zogo was the director of Amplitude FM, a private radio station in Yaounde and ran a daily program that looked into social issues and held talks on topics related to good governance. Zogo always claimed that he had documents to prove that some senior state officials have been robbing the state of several billions of francs CFA Since 2013. He said he forwarded the proof of what he called « a high wave of corruption and embezzlement » involving a local media to Cameroon’s president Paul Biya. Zogo then cried out he was receiving death threats daily. In one of his programs on Amplitude FM, Zogo said he knew that he wasn’t far from death and that he was ready for it but that his killers will live to pay for their malicious acts. According to him, corruption and embezzlement of public funds by government officials are rife and president Paul Biya has been giving deaf ears.

According to Radio France Internationale (RFI), the proof sent to president Paul Biya would have been intercepted mid-way and those involved decided to pay him back in his own coin. Many Cameroonian writers, Journalists and human rights activists, like Calixte Behyala, Mimi Mefo, J. Poing and Rémy Ngono, say the killing of Zogo is clear proof that there is no Press Freedom in Cameroon. Zogo was wrong to have believed in the government’s protection. Zogo’s killing has confirmed to the World that Cameroon is a brutal state managed by people who operate mafia groups.

Human rights groups and the world have joined their voices to those of Journalists, calling for an independent investigation to find Zogo’s killers. The Cameroon Journalists Trade Union (CJTU) known by its French acronym as SNJC (Syndicat national des journalistes du Cameroun), has called on all pressmen to be careful but encouraged them to continue the coverage of corruption and embezzlement of public funds and shed light on undemocratic practices they say are rampant.

A government spokesperson and minister of Communication, René Emmanuel Sadi, issued a press release where he said that early investigations were being done to indicate that Zogo was indeed tortured by his killers and reassured everyone that an autopsy report will be done. The autopsy report came back and confirmed that Zogo was sodomised and electrocuted to death.

This, however, is not the first case of torture inflicted on a Cameroonian journalist:

  • In the early 2000s Founder of « le messager » newspaper and « Freedom FM radio », Pius Njawe, was tortured, detained and later on released and assassinated in the USA because he regularly denounced undemocratic practices in Cameroon.
  • In 2010, Bibi Ngota, publisher of Cameroon Express died in the Yaounde -Kondengui central prison after he was arrested with three other reporters as they were all accused of forgery.
  • In 2019, Paul Chouta another Journalist was tortured and stabbed by unknown attackers.
  • In the same year, the military arrested Journalist Samuel Wazizi for allegedly supporting separatists in Cameroon’s two English speaking regions (Northwest and Southwest). He was tortured to death by military officers and his dead body released in 2020.
  • Mimi Mefo journalist by then at Équinoxe radio and TV today on exile in Europe, was allegedly arrested and detained at the Newbell Central prison in Douala Cameroon’s economic capital for denouncing the military’s torture of the population in the ongoing Anglophone crisis in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon respectively.

Many like J. Poing Rémy Ngono escaped assassination and flew to Europe where they are presently on exile. There are many of such cases pending and it’s hoped that the brutal abduction and assassination of Martinez Zogo will hopefully be the last stroke on the Camel’s back.

By Yomkil Kana


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