About 2,000 Nigerian fishermen have fled Cameroun Republic because of violence and extortion by soldiers and the local tribes in the country.
Mr. James Audi, who identifies himself as the leader of the fleeing fishermen in Cameroun, narrated their ordeal Thursday to journalists in Yola, the Adamawa State capital.
He said despite being in possession of resident‚Äôs permits, they were being subjected to constant harassment, incarceration and extortion by gendarmes who seem not to accord recognition to the residency permits in their possession.
‚ÄúWe are always been inundated with constant harassment, unjustifiable incarceration, intimidation and extortion in the hands of gendarmes.
‚ÄúOur women are worst affected by this onslaught because of the manner their fundamental rights are being abused with impunity. They are constantly being harassed, especially on market days whenever they take their wares to the market,‚Äù he said.
Audi further said apart from the constant harassment they face from security operatives, the local Banana and Musku tribes with whom they have cohabited for decades are threatening them with violence.
According to him, the attack by the locals, which started in 2004, made the locals to bar them from fishing.
‚ÄúFor close to three months, our economy has been relegated to the background following the directive given by the local tribes that we should fish no more, this has never happened to us,‚Äù he lamented.
He added that following the renewed violence, in which they were the targets, they were left with no option than to flee the area for fear of being killed.
He explained that their plight was worsened by the fact that security operatives who should have come to their rescue when they were being attacked were treating their complaints with levity.
‚ÄúWe have been living in that area for the past 70 years when our grandfathers settled in the area but we never had it so bad following the discrimination from local residents,‚Äù he added.
He said they were forced to bring their case to the public after they had reported their alleged maltreatment to the Nigerian ambassador to Cameroun and no action was taken to address the situation.
Audi said while they were fleeing, they were attacked during which one person was severely wounded.
He appealed to both the Nigerian and Cameroonian authorities to come to their rescue so that they could go back to fishing.