The appointment of new officials at the head of highly-sensitive security services recently by the Head of State necessarily raised a number of questions in informed circles. Many ordinary citizens peremptorily believe that some form of relapse will be observed in the face of rising crime across the country noticed in recent times. Quite curiously, these appointments came at a time the country is registering an unprecedented rise in a new type of crime. In recent times, a new phenomenon in the wide array of crime has cropped up.
Unheard of in the not-too-distant past, kidnappings and cyber crime or scamming have become the order of the day in several parts of the country. Initially, the phenomenon was circumscribed to the northern parts of the country where numerous cases of hostage takings were reported. At that time, however, these incidents were attributed to excesses of estranged paramilitary personnel from Chad where civil war was at its peak. But the excesses were soon to find fertile ground in Cameroon where, in the face of a growing economic crisis compounded by a drop in purchasing power by ordinary citizens, the phenomenon was to start growing in leaps and bounds, to the extent that within months, the whole country was already enveloped in the infernos of sorts. Cases have not been limited to the cities, but fairly rural settings like Bangangte and Kumbo in the West and North West regions respectively have also had their own share of the ordeal. A happening that has never been in the character of Cameroonians.
In the past two weeks alone, there have been cases of kidnappings in exchange for ransoms registered in virtually all parts of the country. In Douala last week, an innocent nine-year old was mercilessly killed by her abductor because the parents could not quickly provide the ransom he had required from the parents of the girl. Just a few days ago in Garoua, a young girl of about 22 years was abducted and brutally slain because her parents could not react with the kind of celerity they had required to have the young girl’s life saved.
Without wishing to make any apology about crime, Cameroonians had seemed contented with their “ordinary” forms of crime such as burglaries or even armed attacks. But the question of kidnappings in exchange for money is, definitely, a new element in Cameroon’s crime culture and therefore needs very special measures to address the issue.
The issue might not have been specifically addressed when the new security chiefs took their new functions last week; but it is very much an issue that this new kind of criminality must be addressed squarely. And this cannot be done with traditional means because such means have shown their limits. To new situations, new strategies, one is tempted to say. It will therefore be incumbent on the new responsible officers to inscribe the resurgence of new forms of crime as one of the major priorities that will make the majority of Cameroonians have the feeling that all their security concerns are being taken care off. The season is quite propitious because in the coming weeks or months, the various government services will be making budgetary proposals. No one expects that with the scope of the threat posed by this new forms of criminality, adequate financing should not be provided in a way as to squarely address the issue and, in the process, allay fears of countless citizens who continue to feel the absence of government presence as the tide of this new crime forms continues to grow.