Anglophone Crisis: Bishops advocate speedy return to normalcy

Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon have called for immediate an immediate end to killings, restraint, and dialogue, saying urgent mediation is the only way out of the crisis stalemating the Northwest and Southwest Regions of the country. The caution of the clergymen contained in a “Cry of the Bishops” Communiqué signed by their President, Archbishop Samuel Kleda recently.
Reiterating that Cameroonians are brothers and sisters, regardless of their Regions of origin, the Bishops, pleaded that the paths of dialogue, reconciliation, justice and peace should be retraced as a matter of urgency, for a speedy return to normalcy.

The Prelates, confessed to be feeling the pinch of the socio-political crisis which has since 2016 been rocking the English speaking Regions of the country. They have stood with them reassuring the victims of violence of their spiritual support.

It should be noted that it is one of several times the Bishops are drawing attention to the irreparable damages caused by the crisis. They have repeatedly noted with dismay that the predicament jeopardizes the lives of people and property, threatens security as well as social cohesion.

Many pundits have, however, been questioning who shoulders the responsibility to initiate dialogue and who is fit or not to sit at the dialogue table.
By Claudia Nsono

Shredded Cameroon can still be recuperated – Nico Halle

Barrister Nico Halle is not a run-of-the-mill personality that can be cajoled into an interview if he perceives that long earned and nurtured reliability is on the line. The current Bar General Assembly president and international peace crusader was recently in Buea for a private function.
However, his concern for immediate return to peace and by extension social justice and equity had the better part of him, leading to acquiescence to an interview to edify Cameroonians on some very burning issues pertaining to the current crises in the country and governance as a whole.
Judging by his discourse, he eschews confrontation like a plague and sees no reason why other Cameroonians should not make it part of their personal mottos, if only as contribution to a society of enduring peace and stability.
He agrees that issues have been allowed to deteriorate to current levels because of mutual display of irreverence for the word of God that is encapsulated in love for one another and country.
Nevertheless, as gloomy as the prevailing circumstance may seem, he sees Cameroon coming out of the present doldrums fired by confidence, determination and love. The peace crusader in him makes him exude an aura of implacable optimism in the eventuality of reason prevailing over the current irrationality being exhibited by protagonists in the war of attrition pitting Government forces against alleged separatists with obeisance to a yet to be midwifed Ambazonia Republic.
As euphemistic as his pronounced modesty and training as lawyer could permit him to come across, his narrative is inexorably, suffused with a consensual and urgent need for Cameroonians to sit around a table and dialogue, akin to typical Bantu cosmogony of solving intractable issues under the shade of a tree in the village square.
As usual, it is a pot-pourri of dexterity in handling complex issues in a very readable manner that can only emanate from The Rambler stable. (See inside pages)
Cameroonis on fire.If you agree, would you want to discuss how things became this bad?
For about close to 20 months there has been tension in the two Anglophone Regions,so it is not news to anybody. You know so well as a peace crusader, spanning more than 28 years, I am saddened, disturbed, troubled and worried by the situation. Since the eruption of the crisis, everybody knows I have been on the field preaching peace, preaching harmony, preaching serenity and also praying that God almighty that created this great nation, Cameroon, should look down with pity and instruct his children, Cameroonians how they can come out of this quagmire. So that is what I have been doing and requesting also that all the stakeholders; that is, Cameroonians of various orientations should act with restraint. I have, since the beginning, condemned the killing of civilians, policemen, soldiers and gendarmes, I have condemned the destructions; all the property that is going belong to Cameroonians; those who are dying are our brothers and sisters. That is why I have been pleading with Cameroonians to go on their knees, reason better and come up with lasting solutions because nobody ever benefits from violence. People benefit from peace and I always say peace is the weapon of the strong,while violence is the weapon of the weak. In my peace crusading, I have also highlighted the importance of love, justice, equity, the rule of law, the respect for human rights and liberties, patriotism, accountability, transparency, the fear of the Lord.
These are all what we call core spiritual values which will constitute the platforms for peace to exist. That is my mantra. I stand on that and there is no problem without a solution.
You just reeled out, peace, justice, fear of the Lord and all that… The common assumption is that nature doesn’t entertain a vacuum.By the same token, if there is no justice, equity, rule of law, then nature would most likely fill up, make up foran apparent collapse of leadership so to speak…
When you talk of leadership in terms of…
Wherethere is good leadership, there would naturally be a concomitantwilling followership…
I am thinking of leadership in terms of all Cameroonians. All Cameroonians are called upon to contribute towards what we might call true leadership and it is true that there are people who might be in leadership positions starting from their homes, from schools and universities. Mayors, parliamentarians, ministers, senators, the justice system and all of these are leadership positions. If each of these groups were to perform their duties with love, justice, equity, respecting the fundamental law which is the constitution, what we have just described as a falling situation would be reduced to the barest minimum. There is no perfect system in the world but there are systems that are good.Good for me, is not perfect. So, when we talk of leadership, we should look at leadership holistically. You are a leader in your office.Youare interviewing me. I am in Buea for a thesis defencebut, I am being interviewed now because you approached me. You are the leader, the way you approached me showed that you are a leader. You were cordial, you were welcoming, you were nice and that is leadership.I am thinking of leadership in terms of people who have control over units, those small units globally now make the entire nation.
One istempted to think that in Cameroon, crass authority has taken precedence over humble leadership.Leadership is serving; it is serving the people humbly and not leading haughtily. But we are like stuck with a clique of people calledparty leaders, ministers, governors, et al, dictating to the people, breathing down their necks. We think that is the reason for the protests, the uprisings.
That is another way of looking at it and you do have the right to that approach. I am looking at leadership from a holistic point of view because itis this conceptualization that brings about passing the buck.If all the homes were being well managed… I remember when I was very active as Ntumfor, I did indicate that if each village were well managed in Cameroon, Cameroon will have no problem. But if some villages are well managed and others are not, there is trouble. So, I am looking at leadership from a macro point of view because in my house, I should be able to assume responsibility.But I should understand that my wife has a role to play, my children have role to play for serenity to reign in my house. If Nico Halle alone wants to install peace in my house, it will not work; my wife must say ‘yes, we need peace,’ the children also must be part of it, my cooks too must be part…
Which is why we think, we don’t have leadership per se; rather we are stuck with a clique that is to say the very least, assuming ownership of Cameroon.
Again, that’s the way you look at it, but another way of looking at it is informing the people that each and every one of us has a role to play for that kind of leadership that is in your mind to function because leaders cannot succeed when the people whom they are leading are not contributing their own quota.
We insist that the typical Cameroonian leaderinsists for everybody else to shiver and pander; offices must shut down, road must be blocked for hours when he is moving from one point of town to the other. It is a tin god phenomenon.
Thank you very much for that take. If it is a tradition or usage that when you must move certain arrangements must be made to enable you move because you are representing the people, if the people accept that from their will, then that is what they are practicing. The only way we can depart from that is by coming up with some other form that is better than what you are describing.
Are you in effect endorsing a situation whereby a woman in labour must postpone bringing forth her babyor that access to hospitals should be blocked for hours,because a leader is about to drive by?
No, definitely…
I don’t know any system that will…
But that is what obtains in Cameroon.
If you have taken note of that…
Yes, we have,
Then it is unfortunate but I don’t think that it is proper.
Or,that state institutions should stop functioning because a leader ismoving from pillar to post?
Again, I get back to what I said.How did we get to that? If it has been in vogue, how did we get to it and why must we not depart from it because we are moving modern. Why can we not depart from it? Can we depart from it? These are the questions…
Ok, we love that and we hasten to ask you; how did Uganda get to the stage of inventing an Idi Amin? It is either Ugandans were heckled or suppressed to a stage where they couldn’t do their own thinking or, they became such sycophants, that they couldn’t point out to Amin that he was naked; they might have been cheering him all along until he inevitably stepped on a banana peeling and kismet decided his fate. The same could be said of Romania’s NicolaeCeausescu, Slobodan Milosevic of Bosnia Herzegovina and the like.The dustbin of history is full of such impulsive tyrants.
Well, you have a mastery of…
Not exactly;What we are indicating here is thatCameroonians have cultivatedthis cringing culture of deifying ordinary mortals who should be their humble servants.
We don’t mean to flatter you, Barrister Halle, but you radiate humility, your social status notwithstanding.Candidly, to get rid of the collective suicide that Cameroonians are steadily committing, we think that something has to give sway somewhere and that is a clear cut moral, leadership restructuring. It is our honestview,Sir.
Yeah it is your observation
This question may have been addressed above, but maybe for emphasis, how, do you think, the arson that has so far been visited on some 70 Anglophone Cameroonian villageswith hundreds of people murdered be checked?
I don’t know. I am not privy to those statistics but I said and continue to say that there is no problem in the world without a solution. I just think we have to take our destinies into our hands, to be honest to ourselves, get together and chart way of getting out of this situation which you have just described. Of course, this problem which you have described could have been taken care of if we had love, justice, equity; if we loved this nation, you and me and all those who have gone down to say this cannot happen. But I am sure you know so well that there are people who are not happy when there is peace because they exploit this kind of situation for political or financial gains. I really ask myself where these kinds of people are coming from. People who don’t espouse peace, who don’t promote peace, who are comfortable in violence, who are comfortable in conflict, in quarrels, in misunderstandings; they can create chaos in order to take advantage and pull fast ones. With all of that, it accounts for what we have just described. So, it is possible that we can bank on what is done.Scales have fallen off our eyes, the masks have fallen too.Let us sit down.It is the moment for us to tell ourselves that we love each other; we are our neighbor’s keeper, we doesn’t deserve what is happening; that people are being killed, there are burnings, there are destructions, refugee migration problem.It is only sordid; it should not happen to a blessed nation like ours.
Barrister Nico Halle, this is a very pointed question.It is assumed that forces of law andorder are trained to be exceptionally disciplined and more methodical that the ordinary civilian. But when at the drop of a hat, they loot, rape, kill and burn villages it is dangerous for the polity, don’t you think?
No, nobody would say it’s normal. Nobody in their right senses would say it is normal so…
Would you then advise someone in distress to run to a gendarme, soldier or policeman for protection? That would be tantamount to nursing suicidal instincts, right?
I think I have said earlier on, that situations like this are exploited.Either way, the gendarmes are dying, the police and the army; the civilians are also dying in their numbers from what…
Unfortunately, hundreds ofinnocent, hapless, unarmedcivilians are being slaughtered like chickens;not the ragtag army that is said to be fanning the embers of secession.Note that those who are fighting the bush war hardly have houses anywhere.They are in the bush fromwhere they sporadically attack…
What I am saying is that the situation is very painful. I have said that whether a gendarme, a police, an army or a civilianis dying, they are all our brothers and sisters, who should notdie. They are burning property, whether private or public.It is our property, so, we are taking ourselves many years back. When people are displaced, it usually very difficult to…
By the same token you are stating that nobody should kill.
You can be sure. Nobody has the right to take the life of any person.
And the forces of law and order, how do we bring them back to start playing their constitutional role of protecting that life and property?
I have condemned this from Day One,that whether it is the forces of law and order or the civilians, nobody has the right to take another person’s life. You don’t deserve to die. I have said this across the board. So I look at it globally; I don’t go into specifics. I will tell you that for the past 13months, I don’t sleep.Anybody who goes to bed and sleeps in the face of this situation lacks love because when I watch certain images my heart bleeds.I am one person who is empathetic and sympathetic. I am compassionate; I don’t like to see a drop of blood. I don’t want to see a corpse; a corpse of natural death, fine, but when it comes from bullets, when it comes from rough handling and all of these, that tells me… and if you have noticed,I look emaciated. I do not sleep. It is not just because I am a Cameroonian but because of my role as a peace crusader. As a peace crusader, I am asking myself questions; why can all of us in Cameroon not be converted into peace crusaders?
Are we agreed that one or two institutions, whether traditional or corporate of our country have failed in their mission, in their assigned mission to Cameroonians, which is why people are being shot at, people are not listening, people are getting into the bushes, some people are burning down others’ homes?
Unless and until our mindset is changed and unless I start looking at you as my brother with love; I am not talking about brother from the same Region, no!Brother from the same nation, we are all brothers. That is how I look at it. Now, some people like I said when they go to bed they can sleep, they can eat, I lose appetite. When I just hear that there is burning in this part, no appetite and my day is shattered, my week is shattered. And that justifies why I am permanently on the field. Last time up to including December, I used to go… but I was advised, ‘take note Nico Halle, you are doing a great job, people are appreciating what you are doing but not everybody is happy that you want this situation to stop because of what they are benefiting from it. Please don’t announce your goings and your comings, just go.’ So now, I just target groups and I go, they don’t know where I am going.
Have your interventions and preachments paid off?
They have paid off. You know if I were not peace crusading, you shouldn’t even ask that. If I have reconciled journalists, families, traditional rulers, politicians, pastors, lawyers that you know, then you can imagine. If I were not on the field,… I am not blowing my trumpet, but maybe the situation would have escalated; it might have been worse. So, it is paying off and I thank God for that. I am sure that the fact that people appreciate what I am doing because they know the impact that my peace crusading has had in all of these.
Would you say the present imbrogliohas stainedwhat ought to be the immaculate canvas of legality in Cameroon? We are asking this based on the fact that security forces are on record as having beaten up Lawyers seized their wigs and gowns, muddied them; in short, desecrated the judiciary?Has this pristine act of the khaki boys compromised the third estate of the realm role of the judiciary in this country?
I did condemn that act very cogently,
We are asking if it has watered down legal prestige.
I am saying that these were people; these were lawyers who were asking for what is good for the nation. When you saw the grievances of the lawyers there was no trifling item in their grievances; they were asking for the OHADA Law to be in both languages…
And something else
And a few other things, ok, and then for them to have been vandalized, rough handled… I came out with communiqués condemning that and I still consider that that was not proper because nowhere in the world are lawyers treated that way. I think that things have escalated beyond just the lawyers and the teachers grievances to other proportions which God alone knows and so, to be very honest with you, I have not ceased condemning in the hardest of terms the behaviour of some of our Cameroonians; be they in the civil, in the army, in the forces of law and order, I have condemned that. It is on record that I have been very constant as far as that is concerned.
You have this antecedent of checking, attending to moral, social and why not, political values;ensuring that they are on course. In crusading for peace and changing mindsets, have you approached those who referred to other Cameroonians as ‘rats and cockroaches’ that ought to be exterminated and the local authority that repeatedly referred to a cultural entity in Cameroon as ‘dogs.’Have you reached out to change the hearts of those who assembled at the Buea Mountain Hotel and preached Rwanda-type xenophobia? Remember some of the xenophobes were rewarded with appointments to top national offices.

All of that is unacceptable. You will agree that it is decadence.
Have you been to them?
I don’t …
Let’s be blunt. We are talking about the ranking Regional administrator who kept calling people of a particular cultural expression dogs.
Did I need to go to the administrator? When I condemn a situation, when I condemn the violence and disproportionate words used, I don’t need to call… if the cap suits you, wear it. If I must name, then it is unfortunate. But you know what I have been doing and that is non-negotiable. I don’t compromise when it comes to the crime decadence. You know me and you have been following up and so, it is not about names.
But we thought if you don’t confront them, face to face, it would be like tacklingdisease symptoms and not the disease itself.
If I were to indicate that all of that including others is unacceptable, do I need to come to tell you that the words you used were inflammatory, were out of proportion? Otherwise, then I must visit every Cameroonian who has made a statement.
No, symbolically you might visit one or two persons, I think Jesus did it.
But do you know that I have visited people in Cameroon? When they talk of peace crusading, it means meeting people, meeting groups of people; using papers, interviews, making pronouncements on television and on radio. Once, you do that, you reach out to so many people and they understand my take on this whole thing. I think there is hardly any Cameroonian who up to, and including now has not known Nico Halle’s position.
We are also saying that interpersonal communication can only reinforce mass communication; if you came to me directly and said, ‘what you said go back and unsay it,’ you would have touched a heart.
You see, that is your own approach. I am Nico Halle and having my own approach. My approach is not confrontational. Peace crusading is not confrontational, that is the difference between Nico Halle and others. They will go confrontational, but Nico Halle is peaceful. There is no day you will hear me insulting anybody or promoting violence and it starts from my house, it starts from my office, it starts from wherever. I know that the fact that my stand for the truth is unbendable, uncompromising causes people to smear me, persecute me and blackmail me and each time I see that, I am happy, it means that I am doing something.
Would you die ready for it, if you died crusading for peace?
I am sure you know that in November, December 2017 when it was bad on the ground and I was out for two weeks in the Northwest and Southwest, I went to Mamfe; that was the boiling period.Just the day before, they had killed two gendarmes. I went to where the killings took place against all counsel. I went to all the military bases and I spoke with them. I told them that we need to respect our human rights. I prayed with them and I asked that the Lord should enable them do work for the nation. I went around; I met politicians in the Northwest, met some in Southwest and these are the two Regions that are greatly affected.
If you were to ask me if I will die, if I left Bamenda and everybody who heard I was going to Mamfe said don’t go. In any case I told them I will die eventually, if I die communing, fellowshipping with my people of the Southwest, I will not care. But I went and met the people; they embraced me and that impacted. The fact that somebody had showed concern at that time… I could have been shot if they wanted to, but to be very honest with you, they embraced me in the Northwest and the Southwest Regions where I went to.
Have the authorities recognized and appreciated what you are doing,whichothers could only set out to dowith blaring sirens in tow and for mouth watering per diems?
I want to let you know that, across the board, I have been appreciated and that is what for me is the motto; that is what motivates me to do more, because I have been appreciated for what I have been doing for peace to reign in this nation; not only in the Northwest and Southwest. My peace crusading is not limited to the Northwest and Southwest. You are aware that of recent, I had an international award for peace crusading not just in Cameroon, Africa but the entire world. It means that the ripples of what I have been doing are worldwide.
And has that included perhaps reaching out to the Diaspora Cameroonians who are like fanning the embers of the separatism?
When you preach peace, you are preaching peace for all. You don’t say this peace or what I am preaching should go for this people and this should go for the other people. You preach peace for all, because peace is good for everybody and that is my take on that. I am preaching peace and I will continue to preach until peace returns.If peace does not return, I will continue to preach. I am praying and I know sooner or later, peace will return to this nation. It is a beautiful nation blessed by God. God cannot allow Cameroon to be shredded and the state at which it is, it, can still be recuperated. I think that we just need to be confident, determined, and love and have confidence in each other, we will come out of this situation. I am very optimistic and positive.
On that comforting note, Barrister Nico Halle, we want to thank you for accepting to talk to us.
Thank you very much, may God bless you and bless The Rambler.
Interviewed by Nester Asonganyi & Charlie Ndi Chia

Palm oil drinkers

We cannot stop noticing that ours is a country of born politicians whose speeches cackle with a dry biting wit; but although they may be impeccable on theory, they are nothing to write home about on practicalities. The political scene is replete with slogan daubers and armchair nationalists, many of whom are guilty of endless furtiveness and mind-numbing drabness.
As someone would say, lunatics are in charge and the wise have fallen from favour in the eyes of the king. People are desperately in need of a better life, so they look on to the politicians to figure out ways of moving out of this maze of hair-raising circumstances. But, what do they get? Slogans! The propaganda machine has been churning out high sounding, sometimes confusing slogans: “light at the end of the tunnel”, “Big debate”, “Achievement point”, “Great Ambition”, “Vast construction site”, “Emerging Economy by the year 2035”
These are slogans, probably born out of good intentions, but the smart people, though they may appear to be docile have noticed that so very much has been said, but so very little has been done.
Men and people have taken up arms, though many are said to be primitive weapons, and are charging against the state and striking at their fellow countrymen. What is going on? We really are in the native land of the hypocrite, where it is natural to tell lies. Every man is struggling to get across his lie with the hope that all will agree that this lie is in actuality the truth. We tell lies through smiling fangs, if not in the social media networks or print or broadcast media. Whose lie is more convincing now, yours or mine?
Corruption is rife, injustice, the order of the day; here, the legalized bullying of the small man by the rich and powerful is common place. In such a country, the honest man is guilty; yet, if we change our mental altitude, we can change our lives.
So, I, the Bohemian of Abakwa born on the last day of the month in the land of the proud people by the shores of the Atlantic this day question; how can a multitude be pushed into believing that lake Awing had exploded and then they go about boozing palm oil, believing that it could act as an antidote? Who started such a rumour in the wee hours of Saturday, May 19, 2018?
Those who did not have palm oil knocked at the doors of neighbours even the ones with whom no love was lost. Babies, toddlers, teenagers, adults, senior citizens, dogs, cats, and probably goats were given the free vaccine against Lake Site gas explosions; palm oil. The Bohemian has heard that victims of gas explosions die from suffocation, so palm oil cannot be used as first aid in such a situation. Well, when I analyze the stench, it makes some sense. We are all palm oil drinkers in this grand pit toilet, so why blame the maggots for digesting the s**t? Let’s drink palm oil; it is said to soothe our pain.
By Winston Lebga

CONAROAD evaluates preparedness for 2019 AFCON

Road contracting companies without categorization certificates will lose the privilege to tender files for the award of contracts. The information was disclosed by the Prime Minister and Head of Government, Philemon Yang, in his capacity as Chairperson of the National Road Board, CONAROAD. He was speaking in Yaounde, Thursday, May 24, 2018, at the start of the 22nd session of the board which converged members on the main building of the Prime Ministry in Yaounde.
Prime Minister Yang seized the session billed to evaluate the preparedness of road infrastructure ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations to be proudly hosted by Cameroon, to announce the launch of categorization of actors in the road construction and rehabilitation sector. He added that it is one of the pipeline projects whose realization will soon see the light of day.
The innovation whose implementation will qualify actors into five categories, ranging from A-D, is programmed to begin in 2019. It is believed this will help regularize the road construction sector which stakeholders opine has been in an unexcused disarray.

Some of the participants at the board session boasted to have covered about 80% of work this far. Andrew Motanga Monjimba, Government Delegate to the Limbe City Council which hosts one of the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON 2019 play sites, noted that, “as far as the town I manage is concerned regarding preparations for AFCON 2019, about 80 percent of work expected has been done. Access roads have been created, you can move from any part of the town to the stadium with ease. Much has been done but the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has programmed other works to be done between now and the start of the game.”

For his part, the Permanent Secretary General of the Board, rejoiced that following the Prime Minister’s revelation, prospective companies will not forward files requesting to be awarded road contracts, without categorization certificates, beginning 2019. He went on to say it will cause a turnaround in the road transport sector, which he insinuated had been invaded by the corruption cankerworms.

The consultative body, CONAROAD, is charged with coordinating operations, projects, programs and policies in the road sector.

Meantime, this council session comes at a time when the National Union of Road Transporters is quaking with in-house fighting. The union is reportedly itchy to impede its National President, Simé Pierre , and get an interim President to replace him. Reports say they met in Yaounde last week to get an acting President and the meeting was aborted by elements of the Forces of Law and Order.

This 22nd CONAROAD meeting comes on the heels of appeals from different parts of the country for the Government to help their road networks which they say are begging for rehabilitation. As recurrent accidents have metamorphosed the road networks within the country into death traps, observers hope that the board members will not converge for allowances, but, will in deed strategize for better and safer roads.
By Claudia Nsono

May 20 boycott hits new high

One more May 20 mock celebration. One more opportunity missed for Paul Biya to speak to the soul of the nation he claims to lead. One more proof that his “one and indivisible” Cameroon was intended to include former Southern Cameroonians not as citizens whose lives count and whose feelings and aspirations matter, but as slaves or captives. One more demonstration of his “get-lost” attitude towards anyone who expects him to streamline his lifestyle to the state of the country.
This year’s commemoration came in the wake of a fiendishly bloody war he declared on them.
Biya sailed imperially into and out of the ceremonial grounds in his new-fangled toy – a bullet-proof Sentinel Range Rover jeep valued at upwards of half a billion CFA, a state-of-the-art limousine first seen worldwide at this year’s auto fair in Geneva.
Even the habitually obsequious “other-language” papers could not pull their punches at his revolting flamboyance in the midst of his country’s wrenching penury.
They published elaborate pictures of the car alongside taps spouting muddy water, buses stuck on impassable roads and soldiers grounded for want of transport. For Southern Cameroonians, however, this seems to have become a neighbour’s cup of tea. They appear to have flipped the page on Biya’s antics and to Francophones used to grumbling in their armpits.
To both groups, however, Biya’s core message seems to be, “Get lost!” The bloke appears to live his life in a bubble, totally impervious to the feelings of his detractors and loyalists alike.
There he was at the May 20 Boulevard, basking in the glamour of his high office, mindless of the fact that thousands of former Southern Cameroonians have been spending weeks in the forests fleeing from the soldiers that should be protecting them; mindless of the thousands now homeless after over 70 of their villages have been reduced to ashes by the same soldiers; even mindless of the gory pictures that the whole world has been seeing lately – pictures of the most unsightly ways in which his troops are killing, torturing and abusing unarmed civilians in this embattled area.
Despite all this, his vassals on the ground have been at pains to force the surviving members of these families, still mortified by the loss of their loved ones, homes and property, to come out and march to celebrate May 20. In fact the regime seems to have been so desperate to have people march that local administrators instructed Churches to close Pentecost Sunday services before 8 a.m. Behind this order, the population was quick to detect a plan by the regime to swoop on Christians during or after Church services, and force them to the parade grounds. It turned out they had accurately read the Government’s mind, for that is precisely what happened in Buea and other places – all of this in a bid to hoodwink the world that this was a happy, united nation in celebration.
Well, only a world of morons would be taken in by such window dressing, flooded as it is with videos of the carnage being visited on the same people by the same regime. And it has to be the very sickest level of sadism to require young widows and orphans to bottle up their grief and go marching for the pleasure of those who ordered the killing of their husbands and fathers. However, the story of this year’s May 20 boycott defies all window dressing. Many even see the Sunday evening accident on the Tiko-Douala road as divine visitation to hired marchers who were returning from their mission in the Southwest.
Meanwhile, driving back home in his roaring motorcade, Biya cut the picture of a man pathetically insulated from the country he claims to lead. A normal human being would have understood that enough has happened to turn May 20 into a day of national mourning. Even God, the Almighty Creator, can afford to say to erring humans, “my people, come, let’s reason together.” And in a transport of remorse after destroying the world with the flood in Noah’s time, God took an oath, materialised by the rainbow, never to repeat what He had just done. With the spirit of God so manifestly absent in Mr. Biya’s leadership, no wonder many consider all his actions inspired by none but the prince of the abyss himself.
That is a most scary threshold for any people to cross – to be convinced that the devil holds the helm of their country. From that moment you can expect evil in any form.
The most disturbing twist to all this is that very few rumours of the regime’s macabre designs against former Southern Cameroonians have turned out completely unfounded. That should explain the recent palm oil fever. Rumour had spread that a device had been exploded in Lake Awing with purpose to gas the surrounding population to death. Since the population could not put this regime beyond such wickedness, they took to massive consumption of palm oil, believing it would neutralise the toxic effect of any gas.
A visit to the lake by the Fon of Awing eventually reassured the population that nothing of the sort had happened. However, there being no smoke without fire, grapevine maintains that the alarm was triggered by leaked Intel about a gas attack planned for later. One can only hope and pray, that even if this demonic plan were actually in the works, it would be aborted now that its cover is blown.
Last weekend, the gorgon reared another head in Mile 16, Buea. An SOS from a weeping young man in hiding took us back to the Old Testament when the Egyptians sought to depopulate the Israelites by killing their male children from age 13. This story appeared to signal the implementation of another leaked plan which we dare hope regime intelligence will debunk, or expose and foil.
This is to say nothing about the blood letting on the so-called national day itself. Soldiers of the regime are paid to do the bidding of their commander-in-chief. In so doing they put their lives on the line. Young former Southern Cameroonians radicalized by the unjustifiable killing of their loved ones, have taken up arms to defend their kith and kin, driven by the desire to be in a country where their lives, opinions and aspirations are respected. Armed clashes between these two sides are an unfortunate but logical unfolding, because when you take up arms you are ready to kill or be killed. But if Mr. Biya were a normal human president one would ask him why all those unarmed civilians deserve to die, and for how long he intends this to go on. Is he aware that the more blood he sheds the more remote the prospects of reconciliation? This thing is the ultimate test of his mettle as a leader and it is only human, when you fail, to step aside.

Fake Certificates Saga: Ekema backpedals, withdraws legal suit

Pundits perceive Esunge Patrick Ekema’s withdrawal of a legal suit in which the Buea mayor was praying the court to inter alia; perpetually restrain the University of Buea, UB, from interfering with academic degrees awarded him by the institution as strategically foxy.
They imagine that he might have literally placed a banana peeling, expecting that his opponents would step on it and tumble, legally. He would then be in pole position to play a strong, hidden joker should “The Place to Be,” proceed to effectively revoke his certificates.
The court granted Ekema’s request on Thursday, May 24, against frantic efforts by the defendants to have the matter entertained all the way, preferably by a collegiate bench of three judges. This action at the behest of Ekema is what lends even stronger credence to the belief that the mayor has thrown in the towel (“with intent”) and is now ready to see his academic certificates which he purportedly acquired fraudulently withdrawn.
That notwithstanding, in upholding Ekema’s right to withdraw his own claims against UB and the State of Cameroon as First and Second Defendants respectively, His Lordship Mr. Justice Ako Kenneth noted that the legal history of the suit was enriched when on May, 7, the First Defendant filed a motion on notice soliciting as follows:
That the suit be heard by a collegiate bench of three judges and that they would be seeking to establish that the prayers sought by the plaintiff, are outside the competence of “this High Court and within the jurisdiction of a competent administrative tribunal.”
The Judge recalled that on May, 16, the Plaintiff filed a motion of discontinuance, praying the court to note that their intention to discontinue against all the defendants was hinged on Suit N0: HCF/015/WOS/2018, as well as their motion on notice that was hinging on that suit. Counsel for the First Defendant, Barrister Eta Besong Jr. would have none of this. He did not see what the court was adjourning to rule, for, according to him, he has only brought information before the court and not any application. Before then, the Barrister had reiterated the legal principle that in law, a substantive suit cannot be attended to before an interlocutory application.
The Judge consulted ‘Black’s Law Dictionary’ which defines discontinuation as “the termination of a law suit by the plaintiff.”
Citing Order 44 of the Supreme Court (Civil Procedure) Rules Cap 211 of the Laws of Nigeria Revised Edition 1948, the Judge noted that Volume X enacts that if before the date fixed for a hearing, the plaintiff decides to discontinue any suit against all or any defendants or to withdraw any part of his claim, he must give notice in writing of discontinuance or withdrawal to the Registrar and to every defendant with or from whom he desires to discontinue or withdraw. He said that according to the Learned author, Akinola Aguda in “Principles of Practise and Procedure” the effect of discontinuance is that the suit ceases to exist.
The Judge further invoked several other judicial precedents before noting that once an application for discontinuance is made, the things to be considered by a trial court is the stage the application was made.
According to Mr. Justice Ako, it was crystal clear that with a notice of discontinuance such as the one before his court, which is discontinuance before the hearing on the merits, “this suit is automatically terminated.”
He said further: “The operative word here is ‘a matter be heard.’ This presupposes a situation at the onset of the hearing of the suit. I do not believe that it should be interpreted to mean that the matter being heard already by a single judicial officer shall at a later stage be transformed into a hearing of a collegiate bench.
“This question must be addressed and resolved at the onset of the hearing of the suit. One suit cannot at the same time be commenced by a single judge and later be entertained on the same issues by a by a collegiate bench again…
“Thus, the application appointment of a collegiate team to hear a suit is a rule that does not overcome the discontinuance of the suit. That suit is terminated automatically as we have taken time to demonstrate especially as in the case if it is done before the date fixed for hearing.
“No suit still exists here and so too, all the pending interlocutory applications there also collapsed with the notice of discontinuance having been filed at the appropriate time…”
Origin of legal battle
When news of the fake certificate saga involving the Buea mayor first broke, it spread like wildfire. UB that initially put to question the mayor’s requisite qualifications did not ask that criminal charges be pressed on him for the purported fraud. Rather, it was Ekema, who, through his lawyer, Barrister Emmanuel Nkea approached the court, seeking to halt the university from releasing further information about his academic history to the public.

Then he backpedaled and on Thursday, May 24, after a spirited legal battle the court ruled in his favour.
Unlike the previous court session on May 17 when the plaintiff was “unjustifiably absent,” this time, he gave power of attorney for someone to represent him. Even though counsel for the defendant raised an objection on grounds that under the provision of section 117 of the Evidence Ordinance, the document granting power of attorney ought to be executed by the law before a notary court and authenticated by a notary court. Barrister Eta Besong Jr. argued that the document tendered did not state that it was executed before a notary court; neither did it state that it has been authenticated by the notary court.
He pointed out that Law No 90/059 is what governs practice at the Bar and does not deal with power of attorney. He concluded that the word ‘seal’was different from ‘executed before’ and ‘authenticated by’ and so, the document was inadmissible under section 117 of the Evidence Ordinance and should be rejected.
Barrister Nkea, counsel for the plaintiff reminded the court that according to law, advocates practising in the Northwest and Southwest can perform the functions of notary court. Therefore, if he had sealed the document as notary, it is acceptable; otherwise there would be nothing that makes them notaries in this part of the country. He said his opponent’s arguments were dilatory in nature and should be discarded. “The document before you is duly signed. There is this notion of form which my learned friend has brought up and it is a technical issue that should not stand before the execution of justice,” Nkea stated.
The presiding judge held that the rules of the court relating to forms are rules and the duty of the court is not to adhere to such forms but to do substantial justice and prevent undue appearance to technicalities. He said what is important is that the document was done before a notary court, and so, whether it was sealed or not, the significant issue is that both ways lead to Rome and the mission is to get to Rome. As such, he said the document granted power of attorney to the plaintiff and is admitted.
By Nester Asonganyi

Internal frictions at ELECAM may jeopardize elections

A rift between a faction loyal to the Board Chair and another firmly behind the Director General could plunge the electoral board in confusion ahead of crucial elections later this year.
The tussle had been boiling within the corridors of ELECAM for the past months but came to the limelight at the weekend when board members held a meeting in Yaounde to pass a vote of no confidence on the Director General Abdoulaye Babale, accusing him of mismanaging human and financial resources.
According to a communiqué signed by the board chair of ELECAM Enow Abrams Egbe, the Director General has been found wanting amongst others, repeated failure to attend statutory sessions aimed at harmonization ahead of the upcoming elections.
According to the communiqué, Mr. Babale’s comportment has de-motivated ELECAM staff, inflicting a serious dent on the body’s image on the eve of elections.
However, the Board could only fall short by establishing the gross misconduct charge on Abdoulaye Babalaye with the decision to fire him resting on the Head of State who was at the time reported to be in Mvomeka’a for the burial of his nephew who perished in a military accident in Limbe a couple of weeks ago.
Babale’s fight back
Abdoulaye Babale had already read the handwriting on the wall even before Friday’s event and in an attempt to win part of the ELECAM staff to his side, organized a seminar for all ELECAM staff nationwide between the 22-24 May in Douala, Garoua and Yaounde.
According to an ELECAM insider, they were all placed on mission allowances and financial benefits which was the first time such was happening under Abdoulaye Babale.
During the three-day seminar aimed at training ELECAM workers on handling elections in a democratic setting, Abdoulaye Babale announced that 253,000 news voters had been registered on the electoral lists as of May 10.
He used the opportunity to distribute 720 new electoral kits to ELECAM Regional heads which would in turn be distributed at the various Divisional and Sub-Divisional levels.
Babale also addressed the status of several ELECAM staffers that were set to go on strike either because of their status within the organisation of their financial benefits. He blamed the situation on administrative bottlenecks and hitches which he inherited from his predecessor but promised them their situation would be normalized before the elections.
While Babale was giving assurances to ELECAM staff on May 24, the Board was thus meeting to charge him with gross misconduct.
Analysts hold that this tussle between the Board Chair and the Director General might seriously jeopardize the organization of elections in the country given that it has created two camps within the institution.
This is not the first time ELECAM is witnessing a tussle at the helm with Samuel Fonkam Azu’u and Mohaman Sani Tanimou swept aside from the organisation after they failed to settle their differences.
Many have since been suspecting that Babale would be swept away from the house following his publication of first figures of Senatorial results on the night of the polls only to be pressured into publish contradicting figures less than 24 hours later.
Whoever comes out on top in this latest soap at ELECAM, the real battle however lies on the field, especially in the two English-speaking Regions where violence could pose a big threat to the conduct of the elections.
By Francis Ajumane

Journalists rally to bid fallen colleague farewell

Following the tragic demise of Elah Geofrey Mbong, journalist, editor and layout person of the Sun Newspaper, journalists in the Southwest Region are making necessary preparations to give their colleague a befitting burial.
Elaborate arrangements are underway for Geofrey’s funeral slated for Friday, June 1. It shall begin with the corpse removal and viewing at Limbe Regional Hospital Chapel has been scheduled at 2pm. At 5:30 pm on the same day, the corpse will be returned to the morgue making way for a wake service at his ‘Mile One’ residence from 6pm.
The funeral continues on the following day, Saturday, June 2, at 6am with the removal of his mortal remains and departure for Bangem, Southwest Region. Burial shall be on the same day.
Geoffrey died in the early hours of Friday, May 18, in Limbe after being knocked down by biker said to have been escaping from police control without his headlights on.
Late Elah Geofrey Mbong was a fine journalist with a sharp pen, an outstanding editor of the Sun Newspaper who was also in charge of the Layout of his paper and other papers as many ran to him because of his professionalism, humility and intelligence. He was an outgoing person, very social and could work with anyone hitch free.
Late Elah Geofrey Mbong, aka Nyari leaves behind two kids, a fiancé, family, colleagues, and many other loved ones to mourn him.
By Relindise Ebune

GCE exams take off in relative calm

Despite threats from yet to be identified individuals under the canopy of ‘Ambazonia Freedom Fighters to rubbish this year’s GCE examination and counter threats of retaliation by Government, the exercise has begun hitch free in some centres in the Southwest and Northwest Regions.
Like in the 2016/2017 academic year when threats from the same sources to stymie its conduct had abounded, the atmosphere has not been very different in the 2017/2018 session. Even though there is a remarkable drop in the number of candidates registered in the two Anglophone Regions, the general figures nationwide are still encouraging.
It is worthy of note that the Ministry of secondary Education had infused fresh impetus to the examination process by extending the closing date for registration to the end of March, following the appointment of Pauline Nalova Lyonga, as Minister of Education.
Government has been hard put to project the perception that despite the acrimonious tinge that characterizes its relationship with former West Cameroonians, all is well as business is moving on unperturbed despite the overwhelming disparity between this view and reality in most schools in all of the 13 Divisions that constitute the Northwest and Southwest Regions.
It would be recalled that as part of the threats, two principals of Government High schools in Mile 16, Bolifamba and Muyka all in Fako Division were kidnapped for being ardent supporters of the anti no school slogan championed by separatists.
It is the hope of many parents and their wards that as the writing session has begun on a good footing in the restive Northwest and Southwest Regions; it will sail on smoothly to the end.
By Nester Asonganyi

Military Court hands panic sentences to Anglo detainees

It took the court 16 months to finally pass sentences on Mancho Bibixy and six other Anglophones detained in Kondengui but the sentences did not reflect the attitude the court had put on for all these months.
Mancho Bibixy, the coffin revolution activist was thus slammed a 15-year jail term by the Yaounde military court after he was found guilty of acts of terrorism, secession amongst other charges.
The military court also handed out jail sentences to six other accused Anglophones, ranging from 11 years to fifteen years and a collective fine of 268 million francs CFA; 64 million as damages requested by the civil party and 204 million as damages requested by the State.
They have 10 days to file an appeal from the day of the judgment, the presiding magistrate Col. Abega Mbezoa said as she reeled out the sentences.
Like Mancho Bibixy, Tsi Conrad was slammed a 15-year jail term, Tamngwa Malvin Tamngwa, Tha Emile Agwe, and Aselecha Martin were handed 13-year jail terms each.
Journalist Thomas Awah Junior was slammed an 11-year jail term while Guingah Valentine got the least of terms as he got 10 years.
They will each have to pay the sum of Four million Five Hundred and Twenty Thousand, Seven Hundred and Fifty Francs CFA as fines or spend additional two years in jail, the presiding magistrate decided.
For all the threats of life imprisonment to death sentences, the military court seemed to have panicked or better still bowed to pressure from the defense lawyers as well the detainees who had warned the judge on the consequences of a heavy sentence on the two English-speaking Regions.
In a previous session on Thursday, Mancho Bibixy warned the court that the situation in the Anglophone Regions was not getting any better since their arrest and any attempt at passing a heavy sentence on them could provoke the situation even further.
A warning that was not taken lightly as the court before passing the sentences the next day, seized all phones in court to avoid communication with the outside world and only handed them back when the sentences had been passed and the detainees taken away.
However, the sentences were received by Mancho Bibixy and co in a rather lighter mood as they sang their way back into the van which took them to their prison cells.
Despite the sentences, it does not look like the matter would be ending any time soon as the defense counsel have vowed to challenge the decision.
“We are going to challenge the [court’s] decision. You saw that there were no particular proofs to back the claims of the civil party, so we are very surprised with the court’s judgment,” Barrister Claude Assira one of the defense counsel said.
“After the court declared them guilty, we knew that it [their sentences] will not be more than 10 years but we couldn’t imagine that they will add one day on it because the charges were so weak because the court was unable to show any proofs during almost two years of hearing. The court has missed a golden opportunity to serve justice to Cameroonians and send a positive message,” he added.
By Francis Ajumane