Addressing administrative and security officials at a closed-door security meeting in Bamenda Tuesday, Atanga Nji sent a message to Ambazonia fighters, urging them to surrender in their own interest.
"If you are afraid to hand your weapons at the Divisional Officer's office or to gendarmes, police, and/or soldiers, go to the bishops, priests, pastors, or traditional rulers. Take the guns to them and they will facilitate your movement to the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, DDR, centers,” said Atanga Nji.
“If you are in a group, and are afraid, take your weapons with you, raise a white handkerchief in your left hands and a peace plant in your right hands to show that you have surrendered. Cameroon has a very professional army. When they see you coming with hands raised, they will protect you and take you to the DDR centers as instructed by President Paul Biya,” the minister furthered.
He told parents and guardians to stop playing double games and advise their children to leave the bushes in their own interest.
Atanga Nji said claims that some fighters want to leave the bushes but do not know how to go about it are unfounded.
Reacting to claims that the DDR centers are punishment facilities, Atanga Nji clarified that DDR centers are vocational training facilities that prepare the repentant fighters to better embrace life.
Hear Atanga Nji: “Those who are headstrong and think they will continue to take up arms against the State are mistaken because only the State has the monopoly of violence. Only the state has absolute legitimacy over violence. It should be well understood. That is why the Head of State has offered other possibilities for the ex-fighters and terrorists to hand over their weapons. They have to drop their weapons unconditionally and they will benefit from direct protection. In addition, it should be said that those who wilfully drop their weapons and other dangerous instruments will not go to jail. Those are instructions from the Head of State, President Paul Biya.
“When they abandon the dangerous adventure, they know what to do. When they say they should drop their arms, they should drop everything, including the charms and items used. If you think going to the administrative authorities is difficult, go to traditional and religious authorities.
“The DDR centers are vocational training centers. There is too much talk about the DDR centers. Most of the ex-combatants do not have basic knowledge in professional life. When you leave the DDR centers, you can go on your own and start a new life.”
The Minister said some ex-fighters told him that they have gained invaluable skills at the DDR centers and the government will give them financial support to start their businesses.
“Don’t wait for the military to come looking for you. The government is helping you to lay down your arms,” Atanga Nji said in a message to armed fighters still hiding in the bushes.