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Cameroon Journalists Blast Government Silence on Case of Missing Colleague

Cameroonian journalist Samuel Wazizi is seen in an undated photo from social media.

Journalists in Cameroon have marched to government offices to demand an account of their missing colleague, Samuel Wazizi, after local media this week reported he was died in military custody.

Isidore Abah of the Cameroon Association of English-Speaking Journalists’ (CAMASEJ) says he led scores of reporters Thursday in a march to government offices in the southwestern town of Buea.

Abah, who spoke from Buea via a messaging app, said journalists are demanding authorities tell them what happened to their colleague.

"We are disenchanted because we got news that our colleague is no more, so we have come here today to express our grief and to tell the governor that journalists are not armed robbers, journalists are not supposed to be treated with disdain. We have a right, so we have come to express our grief," he said.

Abah said among the government offices they visited was that of Southwest Region Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai.

According to Abah, Bilai said only the central government in the capital Yaounde could tell them what happened to Wazizi.

Wazizi, whose legal name is Samuel Ajiekah Abuwe, worked for Chillen Music Television.

He was arrested Aug. 2, 2019, for allegedly supporting separatists in Cameroon’s English-speaking northwest and southwest regions by hosting fighters on his farm.

The military transferred Wazizi from Buea to Yaounde, where he had no access to lawyers or family and has not been seen since.

On Wednesday, Cameroon media reported that Wazizi died in military detention in Yaounde. Neither Cameroon’s military nor government have so far commented on the reports.

Journalists in the French-speaking town of Douala staged a similar protest march Thursday to government offices.

Press groups threatened to extend their protests to towns all over Cameroon if the government on Thursday fails to issue a statement.