On November 28, the United States of America arrested and charged three Cameroonian-born U.S citizens for their activities that aid the violence going on in Cameroon.
The three people indicted were named as Claude Chi, 40, of Lee’s Summit, Missouri; Francis Chenyi, 49, of St. Paul, Minnesota; and Lah Nestor Langmi, 46, of Buffalo, New York, according to justice department statement.
The federal indictment alleges that Chi, Chenyi and Langmi have supported and raised funds for separatist fighters in Cameroon since Jan. 1, 2018.
As alleged, they each held senior level positions within an organization that supported and directed the militant separatist group known as the Ambazonian Restoration Forces and other separatist fighters in Cameroon’s Northwest Region.
Cameroon’s government has for years been urging the U.S. and Europe to crack down on separatists operating outside the country. Government forces have been battling separatist groups for five years.
Chi, Chenyi and Langmi allegedly solicited and raised funds for equipment, supplies, weapons and explosive materials to be used in attacks against Cameroonian government personnel, security forces and property, along with other civilians believed to be enabling the government.
These funds were raised through online chat applications and payment platforms from individuals located in the United States and abroad.
The funds were then transferred from various financial and cryptocurrency accounts controlled by the defendants through intermediaries to the separatist fighters to support attacks in Cameroon.
John Billy Eko, inspector general in Cameroon’s External Relations Ministry, said the arrest of the three Cameroonian-born U.S. citizens indicates the U.S. has come to understand that some people who sponsor the separatist conflict live in America.
“We remain cautious and vigilant because the indictment is perhaps only the first phase of a judicial process which began with our government’s persistence in convincing American authorities to take action [against separatist sponsors],” he said. “So, we await trial and sentencing. There are many, many more unindicted co-conspirators and accomplices in the United States and elsewhere who were not cited in this indictment.”
Cameroonian lawyers in the U.S. say they have filed complaints against 200 Cameroonians and American citizens of Cameroon origin in the U.S. who are suspected accomplices to separatist violence.
Chi, Chenyi and Langmi are also charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources intended to be used to carry out a conspiracy to kill, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country and one count of providing material support or resources intended to be used to carry out a conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States.
They are additionally charged with one count of receiving money from a ransom demand and one count of participating in a money laundering conspiracy.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of up to 15 years in prison for the material support charges, up to three years in prison for the receiving money from a ransom demand charge and up to 20 years in prison for the money laundering conspiracy charge.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur