Hidden Hands Suspected Behind Bamenda Food Market Fire

Goods worth million of frs CFA were destroyed in the fire

Tongues continue to wag in silence as to who could have been behind the fire disaster in Bamenda that engulfed over 40 makeshift and 10 lockup sheds in the Bamenda Food Market last Tuesday March 13, 2017.

Despite some blind arrests made the following day, the police have not been able to shed more lights about the incident, leaving several conspiracy theories to fill the already rumour festive town of Bamenda and the Northwest region. A day after the fire disaster, the police were very prompt to react to a call by some roadside sellers and informants that they were being prevented from selling by the Market Master.

Anu Kenneth the Market Master and five others were promptly rounded up by the police in a matter of minutes and transferred to the Judicial police Bamenda. When officials of the City Council secured his release and that of his assistant, leaving the four traders that he had asked to assist him clear the sellers from the Food market street, some traders from the food market quickly grouped and stormed the Judicial Police Station but were prevented from going pass the entrance of the Divisional Office located not far from the Station by heavily armed and triggered readied GSO police men.

Some of the traders feared that those arrested would be transferred to Yaoundé and framed for being those behind the arson on the food market. They tried to mustered courage to protest but were visibly dissuaded by the police presence. They left promising to seek other alternatives.

According to one of the council worker who was released from police custody, some of those arrested seems to have incriminating evidence against them. He said the police had confirmed that they had evidence against the four still under their custody.  The police would not alow even the press into the police compound blocking every channel to get their side of the story.

Despite these arrests, the general consensus is that the market was deliberately set ablaze by hoodlums and extremists who want a strict continuation and compliance by all to the calls for an effective ghost town. This school holds that the burning was a direct reaction to the  huge presence of sellers and buyers at the Food Market on Monday March 13. They justify this by the fact that other acts of vandalism and sabotage were carried out that same night at the City Chemist Roundabout, were the belongings of a roadside seller there were burned down while others at the same place were spared.

But as they days go by, others are pinning the blame on the government and its security operatives whom they accuse of trying to “give the dog a bad name and hang it” There have been text messages circulated around town that a prominent baron of the regime was in town before the incident and held a meeting with his thugs who are believed to be behind the market fire as a means to ferment disunity amongst the general population and wean interest in the ghost town that has been crippling government activities and has turn out to be the face of the civil disobedience by the Anglophone masses. Others claim it was meant to show the international community that is developing some interest in the crisis that the proponent of the strike action are using violence and violating human rights..

Reacting to the fire incident, the Government Delegate to the Bamenda City Council, Vincent Ndumu Nji in a meeting convened with the traders at the Parcour Vita on Wednesday March 15, said there were no electrical installations at this part of the market and that completely rules out a power short circuit as a possible cause of the fire, leaving open the much taunted suspicion of arson.

Whatever suspicion or conspiracy theory is advanced, the fact remains the same, that many innocent people have been caught up in this very dangerous game and as both side to the Anglophone crisis strategize to outwit the other. Dialogue has been kicked out side and intimidation, arrest, arson, disobedience and kidnapping invited into the house. What remains clear is that if this deadlock continues, many more innocent people will continue to suffer.

By Abongwa Fozo  and Niba Jerome




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