JOHN Kohtem, Balikumbat SDF District Chairman, was August 20, beaten to death allegedly on instructions from Doh Gah Gwanyin, Fon, MP and Mayor of Balikumbat. But Fon Doh told The Post yesterday that incensed villagers lynched Kohtem.
The incident, which reportedly occurred at the Balikumbat Small Market Square, at 5 pm, followed a meeting between Northwest Governor, Koumpa Issa, and stakeholders in the ongoing electoral process. Kohtem’s family members told The Post in Balikumbat that For Doh personally took part in the beating and killing of their son, for humiliating him during the meeting with the Governor. According to Chiysanthus Buma, younger brother to the Kohtem hired a bendskin (commercial motor cycle) after the meeting with the Governor and was on his way to Balikumbat when the machine broke down. The rider and Kohtem, Buma said, continued the journey on foot till they arrived at the Balikumbat Small Market Square. A few minutes after, according to Buma, Fon Doh, accompanied by his guards, arrived. Buma said The Fon ordered Kohtem who, The Post learnt, was sitting on a bench waiting for the motorcycle to be repaired, to approach him [Fon Doh]. Kohtem reportedly obliged. Buma stated that the Fon ordered his guards and children to get Kohtem well beaten. Buma said when they failed to properly carry out the task; Fon Doh himself came out and kicked Kohtem in the chest and head until he died. One Godfrey Duma, who pleaded that Kohtem’s life be spared, was reportedly tortured and only escaped lynching, thanks to the swiftness of his feet. Linus Buma, a brother to the deceased, said he was at home when the message reached him that his brother had been killed at the Small Market Square. He said he left immediately for the scene where he found his brother’s corpse abandoned in the middle of the road. He said he conveyed it to the Bamenda Provincial Hospital mortuary. Other Balikumbat indigenes told The Post that Fon Doh’s henchmen fired shots in the air to discourage anybody who might have the guts to retaliate. They named some suspects, among them Dipollo Dongo, Sama Sikod Henry Galabe and one Peter popularly called “Pierro”. SDF’s Reaction Angered by the brutal murder of their Chairman, over200 Balikumbat SDF militants converged at the scene and erected a barricade across the road. They also called on Fon Doh’s militiamen to come and eliminate them. But there was no response. In a briefing with The Post later corroborated by a press release by Richard Taminang, Ndop SDF District Chairman, Emmanuel Yoyo, MP for Ngoketunjia, traced the incident back to a row, which had taken place between Fon Doh and Kohtem during the meeting with the Governor. The MP recalled that during the question and answer session, Kohtem challenged a report presented by the DO of Balikumbat. The report gave the impression that 12,000 people had already registered in Balikumbat and that everything was moving smoothly. Kohtem in his reaction complained of double registration of voters in different polling stations in Balikumbat. In place of a commission comprising various political parties, the SDF District Chairman said the DO had appointed secretaries and quarter heads to handle the registration process. Kohtem, Hon. Yoyo explained, also complained that a reign of terror persisted in Balikumbat where tradition supervises the laws in all domains. The applause, which followed Kohtem’s speech, reportedly angered Fon Doh. When Fon Doh stood to speak, he described himself as a lion; “once a lion is attacked or disturbed in his den, he is forced to react brutally and in any manner he deems necessary” the Fon is quoted to have said. He is also said to have declared that he would never tolerate any opposition in the name of democracy as his tradition must be respected whether it is within the law or not. Fon Doh is also said to have recounted what he termed “barbaric acts of the SDF in Balikumbat.” He reportedly criticised the SDF National Chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi, whom he said, invaded his village on the eve of the June 30 polls and beat up his subjects. Hon. Yoyo said he too, was threatened, but he told the Fon that the Balikumbat “lion” would never intimidate him [Yoyo]. What, however, disturbed him most Hon. Yoyo said, was the threat on Kohtem’s life by Fon Doh who, he said, openly vowed to teach the District Chairman an unforgettable lesson. Both Kohtem and Hon. Yoyo reportedly drew the Governor’s attention to the threats, but to their disappointment, Koumpa Issa is said to have simply dismissed everything as mere ranting by politicians with opposing points of views. Fon Doh’s Version Contacted, Fon Doh dismissed the allegations against him, saying SDF barons had concocted them to discredit him. He, however, admitted that there had been a disagreement between Kohtem and himself during the meeting, but denied threatening the SDF District Chairman. Fon Doh said he remained in Ndop drinking with some Fons up to 8pm after the meeting. As for the lynching of the District Chairman, Fon Doh said concerned Balikumbat indigenes, who were angered by the insults Kohtem had directed at him during the meeting, returned in haste to the village and informed the population. The villagers, said the Fon, were so incensed with Kohtem that they converged at the Balikumbat Small Market Square and lynched him. Doh Gah Gwanyin also claimed that Kohtem had sponsored newspaper articles to ridicule Balikumbat. He said the late District Chairman attempted several times to eliminate him: “Despite these contemplated revenge against the deceased, the Fon said he was embarrassed by the news of his death. “Fortunately, investigations are going on and I recommend exemplary sanctions for those who perpetrated this criminal act,” he said. The Fon laughed off stories circulating that he left and fled to Yaounde the day after Kohtem’s death. “I am talking to you right now, seated on my throne in Balikumbat palace,” he said. Fon Doh also dismissed allegations of enslaving Balikumbat people or extorting money from them, which many claim is the source of the frequent clashes between “I am talking to you right now, seated on my throne in Ba1ikumbat palace,” he said. Fon Doh also dismissed allegations of enslaving Balikumbat people or extorting money from them, which many claim is the source of the frequent clashes between himself and the dead SDF District Chairman. At press time, Northwest SDF militants, led by Henry Kum, the Provincial Chairman, were mobilising for a massive demonstration on Monday, August 23, to protest the murder of Kohtem. Koumpa Issa and the Northwest Attorney General were reported to be in Balikumbat by press time, to acquaint themselves with the facts of the murder.