On Sunday 22nd January 2023, at Obogo near Soa, situated 21,4km from Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, a lifeless body of an unknown person was found in a most horrific bodily state. No one could imagine that this discovery was Martinez Zogo, a prominent journalist who was kidnapped a few days ago and transported to an unknown destination.
All this started a few years ago when Arsene Salomon Mbani Zogo, frequently called Martinez Zogo, had the firm conviction that he could use his position as journalist and animator in a popular radio station called “Amplitude FM” to denounce and fight against the mismanagement of public funds.
Authorities took advantage of their positions to embezzle massive amounts of money. Martinez Zogo went further on the radio show “Embouteillage” that he is not afraid to mention names of individuals who had ruined the lives of millions of Cameroonians.
The extent of poverty is considerable, and the prices in the market are increasing on a daily basis. For those reasons mentioned above, he was threatened and constantly received death threats.
On January 17th, 2023, around 8 PM, while he was returning home, he was suddenly kidnapped by unidentified men who transported him in a luxurious vehicle. A few hours later, his companion noticed his phone was no longer online. She knew something was wrong, and she contacted the gendarmerie to report the missing case of Martinez Zogo.
The news went viral, but unfortunately, five days later, Cameroonian radio and TV stations and some media houses abroad announced the killing of Martinez Zogo and the discovery of his corpse at Obogo.
The autopsy revealed that Martinez Zogo was brutally assassinated, and the body was covered with irregularities, a declaration which the medical examiner later confirmed at the mortuary.
The Cameroonian Government, through the Minister of Communication Rene Sadi, signed a press release to condemn the tragedy. He said:
“Active searches are continuing as part of the investigation opened to find and bring to justice the perpetrators of the heinous, unspeakable, and unaccepted crime which cannot be justified under any circumstances.
The government condemns in the strongest terms this attack directed against a media man and reaffirms that Cameroon is a state of law where freedoms are guaranteed, including press freedom “no one can substitute himself to a competent jurisdiction to render justice.”
The statement seems very promising, but in 2011 a journalist called Jules Koum Koum died in a car accident when he was about to reveal the conclusion of an investigation carried out on the embezzlement of an authority.
In 2019, the journalist Samuel Wazizi was kidnapped, tortured, and killed in custody while no judgment was rendered on him. He was accused of having a connection with separatist fighters, and other journalists are victims of bad treatment. They are often arrested and tortured but mainly released.
It is obvious that in Cameroon, there are laws that allow the government to take action against journalists who speak out false statements or give false evidence.
It is very unfortunate that journalists are persecuted and cannot go on trial; instead, they have been killed in the most brutal manner because of their opinions.
The matter is very serious because all journalists in Cameroon are under pressure. They are no longer safe to do their jobs in a free and transparent manner without being afraid. It is not an understatement to say journalists in Cameroon no longer have a choice.
By Lilian Neg, Africa Correspondent for NewsVoice