Cocoa Dealer’s Wife Dies In Custody As Search For Husband Intensifies

Jul 5, 2022

Kebi Paul, still at large after yet to be explained death of wife in custody

By Danjuma Mongfu Bongi
The death has been reported, of the wife of a wanted cocoa dealer, Kebi Paul who has, for several months, been wanted by the police and government soldiers on allegations that he is collaborating and enabling activities of separatist fighters in in some villages of Cameroon’s Southwest region where he carries out his cocoa buying business.
Kebi Nangieh Blanche, the wife of the wanted Kebi Paul was pronounced dead at the Great Soppo Integrated Health Centre, in Buea, on June 29, 2022 where sources say she was rushed to, in bad shape, from one of the detention centres in Buea where several suspects on cases related to the ongoing Anglophone crisis are detained.
“They brought her to the hospital when she was barely conscious, she had bruises all over her body and was bleeding, the doctor hurried in quickly, but it seems it was already late, after examining her, I saw the doctors shaking his head and murmuring to his colleague, the officers who brought her were still around then. After a few hours, it seems her situation only got worse. She was on drips, but the doctor later rushed in again and then her bed was covered with blinds, the nurse told us she had died. That was when the officers left the room and she was later carried away”, a source narrated to The Post.
According to some family sources, she had been arrested months back at the Buea Central Police station, where she had gone to visit her mother in-law who was detained at the centre. The mother in-law, going by family sources, had been arrested at Ekona from her sons shop, when soldiers came searching for Kebi Paul on accusations that he was enabling separatist activities through his cocoa business. Failing to see or arrest Kebi Paul, his mother was instead taken, reportedly as a ploy to lure him in.
It remains unclear whether the mother of the suspect was released after her daughter in-law was taken into custody, given that she is an aged person.
According to sources familiar with the story, Kebi Paul has been in the cocoa business for long, buying from interior villages and communities like Mamfe, Muyenge, Ekona, Muyuka, Bafia, and other surrounding villages around Kumba where most of Cameroon’s cocoa is produced. From there he retails to big buyers in Douala.
Of recent, cocoa dealers like Kebi have been having a tough time, not only from separatist fighters who demand ‘taxes’ from the dealers, but also government soldiers who like separatists fighters, have started demanding huge sums from buyers. A dealer who spoke to The Post say the soldiers knowing fully well that buyers “settle” (bribe) separatist fighters in their control posts, have decided that the buyers will also have to pay them much more than they pay to separatists. “When you decide not to pay, or find ways to escape their control points, they start hunting you and accusing you of sponsoring Amba fighters. But if you pay them regularly, they won’t accuse or hurt you. When they start coming after you, they don’t stop, and if they arrest you and you don’t pay the money they demand, they will send you to Yaounde and you will be charged with sponsoring terrorism. That is what we deal with, some of us have paid millions to avoid going to Kondengui prison, but not everyone can afford that, so the only option for some people, is to run,” he recounted.
On the case of Kebi paul, sources close to him say he disappeared after a tipoff and has since not been heard from or seen. While others say he might have been caught and probably killed, other colleagues say he must have gone far, given that his wife was continually detained for no crime of hers, other than that she is his wife. Kebi’s wife is the latest casualty of such cases that have become too common as spouses, and relatives of those wanted in relation to the Anglophone Crisis have become a soft target for government troops.