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These Other Forms Of Insecurity…

Across the entire nation, there is a noticeable new shift in attitudes with regard to security.

This is obviously in response to the new environment of insecurity engendered by the growing insurgency imposed by the Boko Haram repugnant sect, manifested by untimely killings, maiming and the installation of terror in the minds of ordinary citizens. This new posture is best manifested by the understanding exhibited by ordinary citizens to new security measures, many of which necessarily cause vexations in numerous cases. These are marked by surprise controls before access into any public facility involving the presence of several people such as shopping malls and even churches.

In fact just last Sunday, the Parish Priest of the Mvog-Ada Anglophone Catholic community in Yaounde was urging his parishioners to gear up for new stringent security measures to be observed henceforth. For example, access to mass will be subjected to a control to ensure that Christians do not come into the service with metallic objects on them.

Even in Church, a place of worship! Yes, indeed! But this new posture being accepted by virtually all citizens and even in the most unsuspecting areas or places dissembles other forms of insecurity which, if unattended to, can negate all the efforts being promoted by the public authorities to diminish the fear instilled into many people with the presence of Boko Haram.

An incident recorded in Yaounde a few days ago best tells the story of the impending danger of other unattended sources of trouble and how helpless citizens can be exposed to these new forms of insecurity. The Yaounde city council authorities are currently on a city-wide campaign to tear down unauthorized sheds and other extensions made on public buildings and which often get too close to streets, reducing the space reserved for traffic and consequently exposing many pedestrians to traffic accidents.

An aggrieved owner of such a structure that had just been pulled down at the Mokolo neighbourhood tried to physically resist the exercise and, observing that the municipal police were overpowering him, detached himself from the grip of the policemen and as he ran off, he noticed an itinerant seller of machetes just around the corner. He quickly seized one from the seller and with it threatened anyone who would come near him. Passersby ran for their dear lives as the trader threatened anyone who dared to come close to him.

The worst was eventually averted; but the threat of the free sales of machetes remains. It is a common sight in Yaounde and other big urban agglomerations in Cameroon to see hawkers moving freely around with cutlasses and other harmful objects such as sharp kitchen knives for sale. Many sales transactions are done in bar and other places where high levels of alcohol are consumed; and with the fears of the dangers linked to high alcohol consumption, one can imagine the dangers lurking in the event of any misunderstanding.

A deadly arm as a machete or a knife can very easily be used in an eventual scuffle or brawl. There are definitely many other areas requiring the intervention of the security agencies, especially in open places, for, all too often, various strategies have been very highly focused on areas of heavy human concentration whereas security, in the present context, should be unlimited.

The public authorities ought to take advantage of this favourable receptive attitude in the face of the new measures in all public places, to promote the cultivation of a culture of security nation-wide. And all this begins with addressing every issue that can be at the origin of harm and learning to be each other’s keeper.

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