The Mayor of Lagdo, former hostage held in Central African Republic with 13 other compatriots, spoke of their captivity of a year and a half. Back in Cameroon and interned with his fellow sufferers in the General Hospital of Yaounde, he gave an interview to L’Oeil du Sahel, on newsstands July 21, 2016.
Question: How do you feel a few days after your release?
Abakaï Mama: I would first like to first give praise to Allah the Merciful that protects us and guarantees our lives, our health and longevity that he gave us until our liberation. And I would like to express on behalf of my fellow ex-hostages our gratitude, honor the President of the Republic Paul Biya for this brand of humanism that he knows. He who did not skimp on resources. He set up wholesale material, financial and human resources so that we can regain our country, Cameroon. We believe these efforts demonstrate once again, the sustained commitment by the President of the Republic in relation to his population, compared to the freedom of his people, from the peace and stability of our dear and beautiful country, Cameroon. I would also say thank you to the elements of general Abdoulaye Miskine in CAR, the Democratic Front of the Central African People, who liberated us on July 8, 2016 and that took care of us until our return. And finally, I would like to say thank you to those souls of good will and to all those who, from near and far, have worked morally and spiritually for us, supporting our families. May Allah blesses.
Question: Who were the kidnappers and according to you, what did they want from you?
Mama Abakaï: In fact, since March 19, 2015, we were taken hostage. We must recognize that our captors were members of the Boko Haram branch of Aboubakar Sidiki. They posed as conditions for the release of their leader Aboubakar Sidiki and eleven of his elements. They demanded a sum of five billion CFA francs in damages from the Cameroon government with respect to all those who died in detention in prisons. That’s what they wanted.
Question: What were your conditions of detention?
Mama Abakaï: During the fifteen months and nineteen days we spent in captivity, we have not been physically tortured. They have always given us medicines when we were sick. They gave us firewood, food. But we must recognize that the conditions were terrible because we were not well fed, not well clothed and we lived in tents in the cold, despite the firewood. We had feet tied and blindfolded for eight months. We ate only once a day and we shared a liter of water between two a day. We were going to relieve ourselves with our chains. And at night, we eased ourselves locally in bottles, including the stool because we were forbidden to go out. The last moments, since June, we eat only once a day. It was fufu from cassava accompanied with beans with no other seasoning than salt. There was no onion, no oil. Even if they let us in these conditions, by dint of not having a normal diet, were to end gradually. We already saw our death approaching.
Question: What do you think of the ongoing trial in Garoua against people suspected of being accomplices of your kidnapping?
Mama Abakaï: It was hard for me to know because I was not in the country. I have always said that as a believer, everything comes from God. There can be causes of our kidnapping, but I think that it is God who wrote that I had to find myself in this situation. The day our stay was due to end, God made us free. If there are people who have been complicit in this matter, God will judge them, too, in their turn.
Question: How is your care in the hospital?
Mama Abakaï: Already, I told the Head of State thank you for the instructions given to the Minister of Health, measures passed at the Yaounde General Hospital by the Director General of the hospital as soon as we arrival to our management. All physicians are mobilized, each in his specialty, to deliver us quality care. We are served at any time. We have on site everything we need.
Question: When will you return to Lagdo?
Mama Abakaï: It depends on the state of things here at the hospital. We are now in Cameroon. We’re not worried. We spent fifteen months without being in Lagdo so it’s not making one or two months in Yaounde that will worry. We say that with God’s will, we can find our families.