IPI condemns the killing of Cameroon journalist Jean Jacques Ola Bebe in early February and demands authorities investigate this incident, ensure justice, and address the deteriorating situation of the safety of journalists and press freedom in the country.

The killing occurred less than two weeks after the murder of journalist Martinez Zogo, the director of radio Amplitude, and host of the radio program ‘’Embouteillage’’, where he used his platform to denounce cronyism, corruption, and poor governance.

According to reports, on February 3, 2023, the body of Ola Bebe was found close to his home in Mimboman, a suburb of Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon. Ola Bebe was a priest and journalist who worked with several media houses in Yaounde. 

He was considered close to the slain journalist Martinez Zogo. IPI previously reported about the assassination of Zogo by unknown individuals on the alleged order of powerful public figures. Authorities have recently made apparent progress in the murder investigation, including arresting high-ranking security officials.

It is not yet clear what the motive behind the assassination of Ola Bebe was. It is still also not yet clear whether or not the killing of Ola Bebe is connected to the murder of Zogo and if authorities have launched an investigation into the murder of Ola Bebe.

Ola Bebe was known for his forthright and outspoken attitude on radio broadcasts as well as his denunciation of corruption. 

According to reports, before his death, Ola Bebe told Cameroon’s Galaxy FM Radio he was receiving regular death threats that he suspected were from authorities. The journalist also reportedly told his wife that he was concerned about his safety and security after being followed by unknown individuals.

“Attacking the life of a journalist is an intolerable attack on the principle of freedom of expression and thus consecrates the regression in Cameroon of a cardinal principle of democracy of which the country was proud”, said Alex Koko A Dang, president of the National Union of Independent Journalists of Cameroon (SYNAJIC),”SYNAJIC condemns with the last energy the odious crime against Martinez Zogo and Jean Jacques Ola Bebe, and asks that justice be done.”

In recent years Cameroon has seen several brutal attacks on journalists, as well as the arrest and jailing of journalists under the regime of President Paul Biya, who has ruled the country for more than four decades. 

The atmosphere of insecurity for journalists has led to increased self-censorship out of fear of reprisal. Those who do dare speak truth to power, or denounce cronyism and corruption like Martinez Zogo, face great risks.

“Authorities in Cameroon must act efficiently to guarantee a safe and secure environment for journalists to do their work without fear of reprisals”, IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “As in the case of Martinez Zogo, Cameroon must carry out a swift, transparent, and credible investigation into the murder of Jean Jacques Ola Bebe and hold the perpetrators to account.”