Buea mayor controversial even in death

*By Nzo Esther Nzo, Enongene Lerise Mbulle & Melvine Welisanes

Badmouthing says it is good riddance while those whose interests he served whether at the party or individual level, see in his demise the crumbling of an inimitable bulwark against lawlessness in the city of Buea, in particular and, the Southwest region in general.

Whatever the perspective from which it is viewed, maverick mayor of Buea, Ekema Patrick Esunge’s death last Sunday, January 27, 2019, at a Douala health facility has sent tongues wagging as to the real cause of his sudden death. While some including family members, insist even with yet to be verified evidence, on the thesis that he died of poisoning, the official verdict has pegged instead his unceremonious exit from this sinful world on a cardiac arrest.

As the shock occasioned by his abrupt exit persists, a condolence message purportedly written by the Minister of Decentralization and Local Development has heightened the controversy surrounding the deceased mayor as the date of the ministerial condolence memo ignites the possibility of advance knowledge of the eventual passing away to eternity of the mayor. The minister’s condolence message is dated October 24 while Mayor Ekema died on October 27.

Another pungent controversy is the mode of succession championed by Fako Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, Emmanuel Engamba who has allegedly upheld the late mayor’s outlaw approach to even as his unlawful exit from the council was yet to be looked into.

 Some of his controversial edicts while alive include banning of the circulation of commercial motorbikes within the Buea municipality. This he justified by claiming that armed separatists and other criminals relied on some unscrupulous riders of these commercial motorbikes to inflict loses in property and human lives on innocent citizens. Unfortunately, his supposedly well intentioned edict has instead pushed many of these riders into armed robbery and hostage taking as sources of livelihood.

Moreover his valiant attempts to induce businesses to operate during ‘ghost towns’ and lockdowns boomeranged into unprecedented arsons and banditry as houses are constantly incinerated and others broken into by men of the underworld allegedly at the behest of separatist militias as warning to “traitors.” Shops were sealed by the mayor, and only opened at his will, sometimes leading to contrary actions from his collaborators whom he accused of corrupt practices. This degenerated to the point where two of his immediate collaborators were suspended a few weeks before his death. According to our source Elvis Tome who is one of the bike riders in Sandpit (Buea) despite the banning of bike riding in Buea municipality, bike riders still continue to ply the road of Sandpit because they work only within the neighbourhood and had never been disturbed by the mayor except for some council workers, policemen and soldiers who disturb them occasionally. Nevertheless, this did not stop them from doing their job. However, in neighbourhoods like Bonduma, Checkpoint, Malingo and other places bikers are in a dilemma whether to start work or not since the ban placed on biking has not been revoked. They are upbeat that Ekema’s successor will change the policy in their favour.

On the order hand the policy to combat shutdown in Buea by sealing shops of individuals who out of fear refuse to open was welcomed with mixed feelings because some businessmen were scared of risking their lives due to fear of separatist fighters while a handful of individuals were excited because it was seen as a means to make more sales which will help them to cater for their families and other expenses.

Even after the mayor’s death, some business premises he had sealed remain padlocked till date, leaving the owners in total confusion whether their shops will be opened or not.  On Monday the October 28, few shops were seen open while a large number of businesses refused to open their shops due to the absence of the mayor and fear in their hearts since the mayor is no longer around to protect them.  Despite that few council men stepped out to ensure that the policy to combat shutdown stands but were humiliated by the public and had to retire.  Some individuals pointed out that these policies implemented by the late mayor can only be operational when another mayor re-implements them.

*UB Journalism students on internship

Buea council changes guards at eve of elections

He reportedly stayed loyal and obedient to the boss who is of late today. He stayed on track, playing second fiddle to the boss for political expediency. He is not known to have rocked the boat; not even once. Rather he worked strictly for whatever purpose the Late Patrick Ekema Esunge stood for. He did so with measured abnegation and resignation. He was Second Deputy Mayor and earlier on this year, when Motombi Emmanuel was kicked out, he was kicked up the ladder to take his place of First Deputy. He is Efande John Lyonga. Yesterday, Thursday, October 31, procedural exigencies were said to have been completed for him to occupy the rather big shoes of the late Ekema.

Barely five days earlier the Town Hall chief officer’s office was under seal, following the passing on of the former occupant who dropped dead on Sunday, October 27. We cannot say with certitude if it would be instantly reopened for Efande to safely install in it and take the current tenure to February 2020 when it is due to come to term. What we know for certain is that the sanctity of that office as it were, had to be protected, Ekema’s passing notwithstanding. That an eventual inventory would be carried out before the next occupant physically steps in, to replace the departed one.

Hiring and firing

As has been largely reported by several other media, the late Ekema was iron fisted and brooked no opposition to his authority. He had caused to be fired certain stumbling blocks of his administration, including his direct deputies and other ordinary councilors. Motomby Emmanuel was one such baobab that the portly mayor eased out of office. Yet, in principle, Motomby was still eligible to contest for the vacant seat of mayor, following Ekema’s demise. However, we learnt that when the supervisory authority summoned a council to put the records in order, Motombi didn’t seize the occasion to be there and to effectively contest to replace the very one that ousted him with ignominy months ago. Hence, Efande scraped through with relative legal, tactical ease, so to speak. And he shall remain bona fide mayor of Buea for at least three months.

We couldn’t also confirm the persistent rumour that the late mayor had eased out Motombi because political reckoning time was nigh and he wasn’t feeling too comfortable with his deputy’s “apparent” ambition and popularity. Taking Motombi out, it was being whispered, would have meant less threats of losing out. But then, Motombi himself inadvertently provided Ekema the rope with which to hang him when he was reportedly not being regular at work and he grabbed it. But was the right procedure to oust Motombi adopted or not?

Motombi reportedly stayed away from his duty post for about seven months. But, then, he didn’t skip three consecutive council sessions as to be said to have breached the regulation in force and so might have been surreptitiously and irregularly shoved out of office. Section 48 of Law N0: 2004/018 of July 22, 2004 on rules applicable to councils is pretty clear on this. It makes provision for a councilor to be deemed to have resigned from office if he fails to attend three consecutive council sessions.

What the law says…

Section 48 (1) states:

“Any member of the council duly convened, who, without just cause has failed to attend three successive sessions may, after a request by the mayor to furnish explanations be deemed upon the recommendation of the council to have resigned… by the minister in charge of regional and local authorities.

(2) The decision which shall be notified to the member concerned and to the representative of the state may be appealed before a competent court.

(3) The councilor deemed to have resigned in accordance with the provision of subsection (1) above may not run for the council by- or general council election immediately following such resignation.

 Suspension, termination of duties and replacement of the council executive (Section 94) (1):

In case of infringement of the laws and regulations in force or of serious misconduct, mayors and deputy mayors may be suspended by order of the minister in charge of regional and local authorities for a maximum period of three months after hearing them or requesting them to furnish written explanations on the acts for which they are accused. After such period they shall either be rehabilitated or dismissed.

(2) The dismissal referred to in the preceding subsection shall be by degree of the president of the republic.

(3) The suspension orders and dismissal degree shall give reasons therefore.

(4) The suspended or dismissed mayors and deputy mayors shall maintain their status as councilors.  

98(2) Where the minister in charge of regional and local authorities is informed by the representative of the state, he shall order the mayor or deputy mayor to immediately hand over service to his replacement appointed in accordance with the provision of section 103 (below) without waiting for the installation of his successor.  Where the mayor or deputy mayor refuses to resign, the minister in charge of regional and local authorities shall suspend him by order for a period determined by the said minister. His duties shall be terminated by decree of the president of the republic.

Section 106(1) the provisions of section 94 above, shall, among others, apply in case of the following malpractices:

  • Acts provided for and punishable under the law relating to the auditing of authorizing officers, managers and directors of public funds and of state enterprises.
  • Use of council funds for personal or private purposes (c) forgery as provided for under criminal laws: (d) misappropriation of public funds and corruption (e) speculation in the allocation or use of public lands and other moveable and immoveable property of the council and in the issuing of land parceling or demolition permit.   

(2) In the cases referred to above, administrative sanctions shall not bar legal proceedings to be instituted in accordance with the regulations in force.

Motombi and indeed, other deputy mayors before him and councilors are most likely to have been dismissed in clear breach of the law, if one were to go by the provisions of the legislation cited above. For example it turns out that for a mayor of deputy mayor to be said to have been effectively dismissed must be ultimately sanctioned by the president of the republic. This wasn’t the case with Motomby and others before him.

It is not also clear if the dismissed officials were first queried and suspended before letting the final act of dismissal to fall on them. It is not also not clear if the dismissed officials were first suspended for three months before their sack. More still, it is still hazy why none of the victims ever sought the protection of the law courts as prescribed in the texts quoted above.

What is imminent is that the dismissing party must have taken refuge under the same legislation under which the council budget could bypass the supervisory authority’s visa. The council budget is deemed to have been approved if after 15 days of its submission the supervisory authority stays mute. It is possible that Motomby and co may have been dismissed when the SDO failed to reply to the council’s application to so do after 15 days which is most likely to be out of sync with appropriate texts.     

Good wine needs no bush’

By Ngouadjio Rosita

Good wine needs no bush is a common English expression which simply translates to the fact that a good product is self advertizing. Saparatists have been waging a rather brutal war that targets certain goods perceived by them to be produced by “foreign enemy” interests. Naturally, one would have expected the producers of the said goods to throw out the scores of Anglophone staff this multinational employs in every echelon and close down its facilities in the two Regions. But no! On the contrary, every single one of them has been taken off harm’s way, transferred to safer territory with their salaries and other emoluments maintained.

One would have thought that other multinational companies in the same business would take advantage of the “shortfall” and do brisk business. But no! What one sees are substandard substitutes being shipped in from a neighbouring country and dumped in the two regions.  These products are as dirt cheap as they are dubious in quality. A bottle or can of what is imported sells for less than half of what the “banned drinks” sell for. Yet, a kind of “intra smuggling” is currently going on because faithful consumers of the “banned” products are determined to break difficult barriers to drink what they have known to be qualitative for many decades. And they do so despite the prohibitive costs and dangers involved.

Ironically, it is the “unbanned” producers that are retrenching and selling their separatist favoured products with lots of difficulties. And this “fight” is by no means related to the fight of the cokes in America and other Western countries. Far from it. Recently, the saparatists’ destruction capabilities have been weakened as they themselves secretly go for quality. Hence the gradual easing of the gaseous version of the “banned” products into the open market.

The snag however, is that the company that should have grabbed the market advantage is virtually at sea. In Buea for example, their piled up products are shunned, the negative propaganda notwithstanding, in preference for the people’s “banned choice.”  

  By the way, gaseous drinks have constituted the economy of Cameroon for a very long period now. Youths enjoy taking them either for fun, leisure, pleasure or for pride. The gaseous drinks produced before the 21st centuries were mostly conserved in a glass form and they were so good that it was consumed by infants, youths and the aged. A keen example is the emergence of Les Brasseries du Cameroon’s “Top” products in the country with a variety of flavours including, Top Ananas, Top Orange, Top Grenadine, Top Pamplemouse and a lot more whose qualities were breathtaking. For decades they have been consumed and sold successfully with practically no complaints.

The two main brewery industries in the country which produce soft, gaseous drinks for years now are Les Brasseries du Cameroun as mentioned above, and lately ‘Source du Paye. ‘Source du Paye’ has as main drink the mineral water it produces, ‘Supermont’, which at some point in time along with Tangui monopolized the mineral water market.  

Furthermore, keeping these aside, let’s take a close look at what ‘Source du Paye’ produces as gaseous and energetic drinks. Examples abound but suffice to mention the well known ‘Planet’, ‘American cola’, ‘Bubble Up,’ ‘Reacktor’ and ‘Super Jus’ as non gaseous drinks and many more. For more than five years now these drinks have been consumed with no complaints too as one may say. But let’s talk about planet’s new brand, the ‘Geant bottles’.

These same gaseous drinks are being produced, processed and sold by ‘Sources du Paye.’ Upon production, it made massive sales as one may say, because it was far bigger (1.25l), than the other 1l drinks produced but, surprisingly sold at the same price with the others. Isn’t that just so amazing? For a period of almost more than a year or two now it has been consumed but the sweetness and ‘gombo’ or ‘njor’ that accompanies it is kind of turning heads one way or the other. Surprisingly the same drink ‘Sources du Paye produces using its own very popular mineral water is as heavily consumed as is Tangui.

 A close investigation especially around Buea proves that many denizens are falling head over toes for the Top brands despite the “ban.”They talk of both the imported drinks and other gaseous products as being highly toxic whatever that means. Controversially still, others refer to them as just a mixture of water, colour and added sugar.  They want a rethink by those banning and unbanning products so that they can have their money and palate worth of drinks.

As earlier hinted, millions of bottles of the imported stuff and others considered not in good taste or quality are stocked in stores around Molyko, Bonduma, and Sandpit and are not being bought perhaps because of the doubtful quality with which the products are attributed. Some say: “I cannot drink this and will never permit my kids to drink this because it is no drink but poison. It is just coloured water; a mixture of water, flavour and sugar. These drinks are practically not being consumed over here. Some sellers after they are bought again exclaim “oh, finally you have been bought again”. Some sellers use the said drinks to quench their thirst when they feel thirsty because they all claim they may not be bought if they don’t do so.

UB JOURNALISM STUDENT ON INTERNSHIP

Patrick Ekema: ‘Ambitious patriot’, burst bubble and fighting the dead

By Charlie Ndi Chia

Thomas Woodrow Wilson, 28th American president (1913-1921) is famous for stating that there is no higher religion than human service and that to work for the common good is the greatest creed. Admirers of Patrick Esunge Ekema, saw the late mayor of the Buea council as a patriot, ready to lay down his life for his people and country. Ekema acted foul and fair, to stamp his mayoral authority on Buea and enter regime good books. He was brash. He openly dared the head of state to toy with his Buea jurisdiction at one point.

Ekema once told off the Buea Divisional Officer, DO, in public, reminding him of his inherent powers as elected mayor, defender of ‘aboriginal rights’ and the indivisibility of Cameroon. Ordinarily, serving one’s country in any capacity is tantamount to serving humanity. It is a pleasant privilege. But such service ought to be sincere, radiating from the heart and soul. And it must seek basically to build and not to bleed those being purportedly served. This could have been late Ekema’s mission, why not?

However, Ekema’s modus operandi raised quite some worrying questions about his intensions. Was he a problem solver or a problem multiplier? Did he have an alternative to anger, poverty or even death? Going by the crass methods he employed did we see tangible results except on paper and through the propaganda machinery of rented media?

Ekema was rightly or wrongly accused of zipping the mouths of certain supervisory “hyenas” whose lifestyles were woven around taking undue advantage of the late man’s “inordinate ambition” to steal state money and expropriate native Fako land. The tourniquet around the bleeding spots he was purportedly healing or stopping is still loose, seeping out the odious fluid of corruption into the pockets of those who either flattered or duped him outright. Amba kidnappings, mutilations and ghost towns still exist; military summary executions and arson are still there.

With all the taunted facts of the Ekema era, with all the rented media propaganda and wrestling with demented ‘Amba’ generated terrorism and clumsy lockdowns, insecurity and attendant poverty and premature death still dwell in the Northwest and Southwest Regions. And as long as the turpitude continues to pour its rain of tears on these two beleaguered regions, young girls with beautiful futures will continue to join the ranks of prostitutes. Young men will remain entrenched in armed robbery, sadistic amputations and kidnapping for ransom. Young Cameroonians will gloat over signing up in Libya, Kuwait and Mexico with no desire to return home. Older men and women will be shamelessly recidivistic; singing for their supper on radio and television and hailing the old emperor’s stark nakedness. And Cameroon as a corporate entity will remain in a hoity-toity stranglehold, with or without the likes of Ekema. The Lord Mayor is back to the ultimate eternal Mayor. We could do with learning bitter lessons, not fighting ambition that is dead and buried…        

Curious matters arising from the ‘national dialogue’

The much parroted Major National Dialogue has come and gone. But its reverberations are still making the rounds throughout the country. This is not so much because of its much acclaimed success as to the fact that it has set even as much confusion as it set out to relinquish. While it is true that no one can gainsay the passion and “espirit de corps” that was brought to bear on the event, the fact that the organizers were reading from answer to question was very evident. For example, while participants would have preferred that team leaders of the various commissions be elected, they were instead faced with ready-made lists from the government bench. However, this can easily be countered by the zest and fervour that was brought to bear on the debates in the various commissions. The question that readily comes to mind is whether that take-away from the Major National Dialogue which is “special status” for the two Anglophone regions is the magic wand to infuse the much elusive peace into Cameroon’s governance apparatus.

True, the special status may be a herald of good tidings like John the Baptist before Jesus Christ. In the circumstance can one be anticipating a new Cameroon modeled along the lines of Canada where minority Quebec is on the same footing with the rest of the country? The answer to this question reposes on what Dr. Simon Munzu referred to as the ‘content of the Special Status.’ According to him, the success of the Major National Dialogue will be judged by the content of the special status accorded the Anglophone regions in the final resolutions of the decentralization commission. What are the ingredients of this newfound mantra? If the special status will not take Cameroon to where officials from president through governor to municipal councilors are elected for specified periods then taxpayers’ money would have been wasted. And talking about taxpayers’ money brings one to where some people feel aggrieved. Did we need to spend all the money flying people from abroad and making Yaounde hotel owners richer only to end up with ‘Article 62’ that was already enshrined in the Constitution?

Another sore point is why the President had to wait for the Dialogue to end before releasing potential resource persons like Christian Penda Ekoka. Worse still, is the fact that the presidential clemency did not extend to Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe and the Nera Hotel abductees from Nigeria currently languishing in Kondengui. Their continuous stay in detention certainly bodes rough times for those traveling on the axis between Kumba/Mamfe and Mamfe Bamenda axis as well as Kumba/Mundemba. They are the ones to feel the pinch. Government may be consoling herself with the possibility of an all out invasion of the strongholds of the separatist forces but that will certainly not be the solution as piecemeal solutions are completely out of place in this circumstance. Acute and chronic problems require drastic and all encompassing solutions, not the half measures embedded in the current resolutions of the much acclaimed Major National Dialogue.

Below is what people expected from the Dialogue after consultations at regional level and the Prime Minister’s. Whether their hopes were taken on board remains a moot point but what is certain is that it is a cocktail of variegated opinions that certainly make interesting reading. Exclusively from the Rambler stable…

Mrs. Njomo Omam Esther:

 We did serious mapping of who the key stakeholders are if we want the crisis to come to an end. We concluded that women are one of the key stakeholders with the power to reckon with. The Southwest and Northwest women task force was created in 2018 with the objective of seeing how the ongoing crisis in the regions can be addressed for a possible end through a peaceful dialogue.

Acha Rita Agum, for ‘People with disabilities’:

We the people with disabilities think that it is but indispensable for our preoccupations to be taken into consideration because we are not represented in any decision-making sphere at the national level be it at the Senate, National Assembly or at the level of municipal councils. We think that it can start by bearing reasonable accommodation by applying all the legal texts that are related to the promotion and protection of people with disabilities; mainstreaming disability in all state departments, in all ministries and let it not be just an issue of the ministry of social affairs  but really to have policies and programmes taking in to consideration people with disabilities in all stages

It is indispensable for people with disabilities to be part of the consultation meetings in relation to the upcoming national dialogue. This is because we represent 15 percent of the people living in the Cameroonian society. The number of people with disabilities is on the rise because of the Boko Haram crisis in the Far North region and the Anglophone crisis.

Akere Muna: ‘Dion Ngute can negotiate dialogue if given the right tools’

Dion Ngute can do the job if given the right tools. I met with the Prime Minister whom I know very well, open and frank. I think that given the right tools, he can negotiate this call in our country. …the Prime Minister is part of the dialogue and cannot be the judge of a case which he is a party to.

This is pre-dialogue and if you want to know, we are bringing to the dialogue, then come to the conference center if we are invited. So far, I don’t know if we are invited or not.

The dialogue depends on many mistakes which have to be seriously looked into, to ensure that the dialogue is successful. It is a serious matter, to my understanding; the dialogue is intended to produce results and therefore it is important that before it starts, everybody should know what it is all about. Personally, I don’t have a clear vision of where we are heading to.

Barrister Agbor Balla Nkongho Felix:

It was a very frank and interesting discussion with the Prime Minister. We did appreciate the fact that he was open to receive us. We talked about the number of persons who are supposed to attend. The Prime Minister assured and re-assured us that out of about three hundred delegates, two hundred will be Anglophones. It is something which is very assuring because if you follow the social media, there is a perception, and most people believe that francophones will outnumber Anglophones during the dialogue.

We also talked about the fact that the human rights violations that have been committed by either parties, should induce a measure of accountability into such action because we don’t want a situation where such a thing will happen again in this country.

We equally talked about the issue of amnesty taking, into consideration the fact that it might be too little too late to have amnesty for the time being but that during the dialogue, the participants should raise the issue. We also asked the Prime Minister to ensure that those who are coming from the diaspora, those whose view is separation be guaranteed, that when they come, they will not be arrested. In the African tradition, you don’t invite somebody to your house and you arrest the person afterwards. These are things that were assuring because some of us are in the frontline. We talk to our friends who are in the separatist movement, to those who believe in federation and we talk to those who have appetite with regards to the process so that we can be able to explain to them. To be honest, I think we should give dialogue a chance. It will never be perfect. It will have shortcomings but I think those of us in particular in the Northwest and Southwest, we have gone through hell for three years. Kids not going to school, the economy has been destroyed; CDC is not functioning, business is no longer working. There is general insecurity in those two regions and so it is high time that all of us put our heads together and find a solution. I know people argue that it is not just about peace but it is also about justice. But I think that one step at a time because if we don’t have peace we cannot be talking about justice.

Eric Chinje: former CRTV staff and development consultant.

In the meeting with the Prime Minister, we talked about a number of things. First of all and most importantly, we talked about the upcoming dialogue. What is the purpose of this dialogue? I think we need to have a full understanding of what it is. My take is, the purpose of this dialogue is to determine the price of peace in Cameroon. The purpose of this dialogue is to determine what needs to change and how are we going to deal with the change. Are Cameroonians, 25 million and more of us willing to accept change in every one? We need to know. Ask and answer this question. What will it take? How do I need to change and in what ways do I need to change for the greater good. I think Cameroonians sometimes feel change has to come from Yaoundé. That change has to come from the President; change has to come from some government officials. It is far more individual than that. The police officer who is taking bribe from people, does he know that he is taking bribe from people who pay his salary? The minister who is misusing and embezzling public funds, does he know that he is taking money from the same people who are paying him for doing the job of minister? Every single one of us has to know what it needs and takes to change.

I had a meeting with the Director of the World Bank and he told me he is about to complete a 1.3 billion dollars in funds that go to Angloa. And I said why? Cameroon should have double that…but we cannot with the current system.

The dialogue is about the Cameroon we want. The question now is what is the Cameroon we want? Everyone one of us should ask and answer that question. What Cameroon do we want? And when you ask yourself imagining that you were part of the Cameroon and didn’t make things happen.

Also we talked about how we can define the success of this dialogue. The fact is, I was telling the Prime Minister that this is a historic moment akin to the Foumban Constitutional Conference of 1961. It is a historic moment and when we come out of this, and the historic changes that took place at the Foumban Conference, people cannot sense that something momentous as that has taken place, then we might have missed the goal.

 Bello BoubaMaigari: President of UNDP

Our party is coming in the spirit of solidarity. First of all, we are here as the majority population of this country totally committed to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation. But this national dialogue that has been convened by the President of the Republic, to succeed must be inclusive and to achieve this, our party came with the proposal that the most active and articulate groups be invited to attend and express their worries during the national dialogue. They must be assured and re-assured that they can come and depart freely. Our party has always put forth decentralization. We have been proposing decentralization but the most extensive decentralization be organized in such a way that the elected representatives of our decentralized communities be responsible and answerable to the people who elected them. And this action must not be impeded by an extensive hand of administration.

Cameroon Cooperative Credit Union, Camccul President, Musa SheyNfor:

The first thing we brought was to remind the Prime Minister about our status as the largest network of microfinance, credit unions created in 1968 and by this more than 53 percent of all the financing of the population of these two regions is carried out by our structures which means, we are actually very historic and nostalgic. By that, we focused our proposals on economic and financial recovery because we know that through this, they will be able to handle things like education, agriculture and all other things.

We took advantage to also present to the Prime Minister, the already devastating economic impact of the crisis as a result of this. And now, be reminded that we are structures that do not only focus on the finances that we get but are very concerned about the loss of lives. And therefore, we are very concerned about anything that can make peace return to the NW and SW regions so that we don’t only do economy and money but above all, our very dear lives that we have the opportunity to contributing in protecting. And in all, we gave a very concrete proposal on recovery, reconstruction, stabilization and sustainability because anything that is put in place now, let it have a bit of what makes it sustainable for the entire population. We also brought with us part of the micro finance sector even though it was a Camccul delegation, a delegation of credit unions.

Dr Peter Louis Ndifor, Deputy Secretary General of the Cameroon Medical Council:

We are here representing the arm of the Cameroon Medical Council, platform of medical orders of Cameroon medical doctors, pharmacists, nurses and dental surgeons. One of the main reasons we are here is to table our problems and challenges faced by health professionals in this very difficult setting of the Northwest and Southwest regions. All of you know that the other professionals; teachers and lawyers have complained but medical professionals have concurred to continue providing help because of our oaths and the Geneva Convention that says we don’t take sides in any conflict situation. Given this, most medical professionals have actually paid the big price. Some of them have died, most of them have been victimized for taking care of wounded people from either side. Some of them have actually been traumatized, assaulted and kidnapped. These are the challenges that medical professionals face practicing in these very difficult conditions.

One of the other effects of the crisis in these areas of Northwest and Southwest regions is the difficulty in providing private healthcare services. For example, the follow-up of systemic medication. Those who are displaced in the bushes, how do they receive their vaccination? How do the primary healthcare activities occur?

Apart from this, there are other challenges that we face within this regions. Most of us have mentioned the fact that there is the absence of career pecks and profile.

The other one is the poor financial package that they get at the end of their profession. By the time they compare their salaries with others, it is a bit small amid the risk they take in providing services in these conflict zones. Also, the other problem is the absence of referral hospitals in the Northwest and Southwest regions. The absence of Teaching Hospitals too, came up for discussion. We actually applaud the creation of the Faculties of Medicine in the University of Buea and the University of Bamenda. They should also follow this up with the creation of Teaching Hospitals. You know a Teaching Hospital is where students actually learn, gain knowledge to be able to practice and where their teachers teach them at the bed side of the patient.

Professor Abangma James Arrey, President of SYNES University of Buea:

There is something I want to say. Most of the opinions on what is going on places the state on a very high platform and then the accused persons on a very low platform which is why we feel that the state cannot commit errors and that only the opponent can commit errors. We need to go back to the roots of things; how violence started. We realized many people have distorted views on how violence started and got to this level but we are living witnesses, from people marching with leaves before we found helicopters shooting from the air and all of that.

We are saying the highhandedness of the state must be checked because some people prefer to die when you feel only force can solve a problem. They too feel that they better die than give up. We have to put all these things in to consideration.

It is that governance that dictates the arrogance of doing things. The arrogance of some state actors has to be checked and it is that arrogance that has brought us to this level. So, the current public governance system has to be done with. And it is the idea of it is our time, this is our time and all of that. Something has to be done for some people to feel that it is their time and must do what they want to do. For us teachers, we feel that the two systems of education have to be preserved and none has to be tempered with. So far, for many years now, there have been moves to distort the Anglophone system of education but has met with resistance from the people.

Christian Cardinal Tumi:

I summarize it as this: We are aiming at peace. That is our goal and for that to take place, we think that we should all know that it is God who governs us and the world, and everyone of us will render account of his or her actions. We are convinced that during this dialogue, the truth should prevail. By the truth I mean that whatever everybody will be saying should be in agreement with what he or she is thinking. That is truth. If you are telling somebody, something that does not correspond to your thoughts, then you are lying. So, we must be open to one another. What I have to say is, whatever we have to say as far as the political life of our country is concerned is we should have opinions. Opinion is an affirmation that one holds with the fear that the opponent or contradictor’s opinion might be the right thing to accept but we should come into this dialogue with what I call intellectual honesty; when you are convinced that what the other person is saying is good for our country, you have to bow down.

 We handed over two documents to the PM. We sent out a questionnaire and about a thousand people reacted all over the world and we summarized it so to say. It is in a book. The book has about 400 pages but that book is summarized for those who are lazy to read it fully so that they can go through it and have an idea on what is elaborated in the book. So we have given all these documents to the PM. It is left for them to exploit it. We have been invited to the meeting and we accepted. We are praying now as religious leaders that our country should return to the peace it enjoyed before because hundreds of thousands of our people are dying and suffering in the bushes. Some are dying of hunger and some are dying of sicknesses. These should not continue.

Compiled by Beng Humphrey Fang

PM TOLD: ‘Free Kamto, others, clean up electoral code or no dialogue’

By Beng Humphrey Fang

The stage was set by the Secretary General of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM, Barrister Christopher Ndong, in a memo presented to the Prime Minister following President Biya’s decision for there to be a national dialogue in relation to the raging war being fought in Anglophone Cameroon.

While Ndong was hard, rather uncompromising about his party’s stance on Present day national issues, other party leaders like Garga Haman Adji, Serge Matomba and Libi Cabral were like ready to meet Biya’s CPDM on middle turf.

However, what stood out sharper than the rest of the preconditions for Biya’s announced dialogue to eventually see the light of day was CRM’s demand that Kamto and other political detainees be first released, unconditionally…(

“We met the prime minister with a memorandum in which we declared our position and we said we cannot go to dialogue when Maurice Kamto is still in prison. As we know he has to lead a delegation to the dialogue table and we don’t know why he is locked up. He has been locked up for no reason. They should release him before we can proceed to the dialogue.

“Also, we said the government should release all other political prisoners. That is, grant general amnesty to the political prisoners so that there can be meaningful dialogue.

That an international body or person of respectable standard should be a mediator in the dialogue because we cannot say the PM is mediator when he is part of the dialogue. So you cannot be a party and judge. In that dialogue we said we shall be talking about; the Anglophone crisis, bringing all the options on table, the political crisis after the presidential elections and then seeing into other national major issues/problems.

“We raised the issue on the electoral code which barely by nature is a bad code.  Those are the conditions we gave them without which we cannot take part in that dialogue because it will not be a dialogue but it will be a monologue because there are facial attempts to exclude the major actors. Then whom do they want to dialogue with if the separatist leaders are in prison. They have not been released. Who do they want to dialogue with? If Kamto is in prison with his party leaders and militants, who do they want to dialogue with? So, that is the memorandum we gave the PM and told him that dialogue will only be possible if those conditions are met. We are not saying that anything out of that will still fail. It can happen but we will not take part and it has far reaching consequences. You cannot be convening a dialogue and informing us that military people will be part of the dialogue. Where on earth have you ever seen a dialogue with military people part of it? It is the political institution represented by ministers that go and talk on behalf of the military. How can military people come and be part of the dialogue?

“And then if you look at the configuration, parliament is one sided. Senate is one sided and most of the people spearheading the dialogue process are all CPDMs for some. We have seen from all the compositions they have made from the president’s speech that it is a monologue. If Kamto and his coalition cannot be there, if the Ambazonians cannot be there, it should be noted that the conflict that lead to the dialogue are two. The Major conflict; Anglophone Crisis and if their leaders are not there or coming, how do we bring dialogue?

“Secondly, the post electoral crisis. If Kamto and his coalition have been locked because of that and a dialogue is organised in their absence, who are you dialoguing with? And we know that as a body, when you cut off the head, the body cannot work. If we are coming to dialogue without our head, how do you expect us to talk? So that is it. It is just but reasonable that they should release them through a “nolle-prosequi” and for the other Anglophone leaders, they should be granted general amnesty and then bring an international body for the dialogue to hold.

The CRM delegation was led by Madam Silvian Noa, second vice president, Barrister Emmanuel Sim 3rd Vice National President, Barrister Ndong Christopher Secreatary General, Okala Ebude assistant treasurer, Dr Sipot Sipot communication secretary, Niboun Nissack Kamto’s spokesperson and other party officials.

Cabral Libi of the PCRN party

“We salute the initiative taken by the head of state organising this Grand National dialogue. We have presented a document to the PM in preview of the Grand National Dialogue. We have made proposals on the form of the state; Regionalism and communal federalism. We also talked about electoral process, the reconstruction of conflict zones for the displaced persons and refugees to return. We are waiting if we will be united to the great debate. Equally we talked about national integration. Finally, we called on the government to release all people arrested and detained within the context of the Anglophone crisis because the dialogue to hold is to reconstruct.”

Garga Haman Hadji of the ADD party

“What we think should be the aim of the national dialogue is the resolution of a serious problem, the Anglophone crisis. This problem is serious because there is a part of our brothers and sisters that want to quit the country not geographically but to separate us. It is unacceptable / inadmissible sentimentally and constitutionally notably the president of the Republic who has as duty, to put it better, has as obligation to maintain the country united from colonial influences British or French.

“The constitution of 1986 put in place decentralisation. When someone says he wants federalism, it is a form of decentralisation. I maintain that the problem ass already solved and we are waiting for results. I indicated that in my report to the president who sent me earlier on to these two regions. So, the goal we have to reach is to convince our people, brothers and sisters who are in the bush. And we can do that because what they need is not to leave the country but to solve a certain number of problems and this is not a difficult matter. We need them to discuss with them and to give them our conditions to discuss what is possible.”

Interview with Serge Espoir Matomba PURS PARTY        

“We have brought some proposals concerning the crisis. First of all, we have started from what we have been since 2016. We have enumerated some of the solutions that will bring our country never to face this type of problem anymore. One of them is to see how we have been caught before, because what we believe is that we regained a colonial system and regions have just been divided without taking into account family institutions and anthropological or social decisions and considerations. So they have just divided the country.

“We believe that if we can start a good division of our country, many things will go well. The second proposal was the harmonisation of the educational system. Today we have two sub systems and I think we need to have one. Also we proposed the harmonisation of the judicial system.

       “Out of that, we have language problem. Today we are fighting over English Language or French Language. We believe in our party that when French speaking Cameroonians go to the French embassy that they are French, they will not be allowed to enter or go to France. They will not take you as French. You are Cameroonian. Same if English speaking Cameroonians go to the British/English embassy and say we want to reach London or England, they will not say you are from England. They will say you are a Cameroonian. So we have to question ourselves, who are we? What is our identity? So we have to resolve that in a language because what we need is Cultural Revolution.

“We need a language which we will speak anywhere in the public and private sector or in our everyday life. Also, we proposed as a solution, the right to land. You cannot say children who have been born in Yaounde and just because the father is from Bamenda means that they (children) are from Bamenda. He has been born in Yaounde, he has lived and grown in Yaounde and he is from Yaounde. These are some of the reforms we have to see into and implement so that our Country will not face this type of problem for the next 50 years.”

Afro-phobia blights South Africa

By *Akateh Prudencia, Nana Marinette, Nji Ruth, Akoh Maxsmile & Ngouanjio Rosita Asonganyi

Africa has been a continent plagued by several crisis rooted in misrule.This explains why the neocolonialism mantra seems to be increasingly losing traction as the days go by with incontrovertible evidence cropping up to indict the African’s inability to be the brothers’ keepers. From North, South, East and West, wars embedded in opaque governance have wasted lives and resources that would have made Africa particularly, Black Africa the envy of the entire world.

In the circumstance, politicians who would rather foist themselves on their compatriots even when prevailing trends point to the necessity for them to give way have always leaned on distractions like foreigners being responsible for their economic woes. Because of greed and glaring incompetence they mortgage their consciences and sell the collective wealth of their countries to foreigners or a few individuals who funnel the wealth meant to improve on the general welfare of their compatriots into private accounts.

This is exactly the case of the recent conflagration in South Africa that has been derisively referred to as xenophobia. Fortunately, there are a few good people like Honourable Julius Malema who can still delineate between circus shows emergent from political buffoonery and real issues militating against the developmental priorities of their country.

Xenophobia in simple understanding is the hate or prejudice of citizens in a country against foreigners. Xenophobia, or better still Afrophobia in South Africa started in the early 1990s, when immigrants from other countries faced discrimination and violence in the newly liberated South Africa. Between 2000 and March 2008 at least 67people died in what were identified as Xenophobic attacks. But most of the victims were fellow black Africans from other parts of the continent.

Today, African youths from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Rwanda, Congo and many others tend to migrate to South Africa in search for greener pastures. It has come to notice that most African youths move from their countries to other countries in search of better economic and social facilities which they consider to be limited in their home countries. It is however, illuminating to note that political factors play a great role too.

These may include war, insecurity, and tyranny by their respective governments, marginalization and inequality like is the case in Cameroon, causing the people to “vote with their feet” to where they imagine, respect for human dignity and good governance is better practised. A keen example is that of Cameroon’s biting socio-political crisis which has induced many Cameroonians to migrate to South Africa, Nigeria and other neighbouring countries for both economic and socio-political safety. Cameroonians, Nigerians and other Africans especially in recent years have tended to flee their countries due to poor leadership, corruption, bad governance, ineptitude, hardship and inertia which could be attributed to the absence of true democracy.

As a result of these, xenophobia/Afro-phobia returned to South African communities as they began feeling congested and discriminated against by the so called foreigners (immigrants). The feeling of being choked in their businesses, educational and financial sector has tended to intensity the hatred surprisingly by South Africans for foreigners/black Africans. This hatred has been manifested in various forms such as burning down of stores, beating, killing and kidnapping of immigrant populations as a means of expressing their anger or rage. Victims are forced to migrate back to their home countries. For instance about 400-640 Nigerians were recently evacuated out of South Africa to their home country as a result of mass looting, burning and destruction.

This has in turn pushed Nigerians and Zimbabwe for instance, to carry out reprisal acts by picketing South African state symbols like their High Commission in Abuja and business conglomerates like MTN, one of the biggest communication service providers in the country with South African majority share capital.

 All these play down on Africa because not only South Africans and Nigerians are affected but Africa as a whole. This gives the typically greedy whites more reasons to refer to Africaas the “Whiteman’s grave” since nothing good comes from war.

As remedy to prevent migration which provokes war African leaders should revisit their economic policies and political systems. They should be more understanding and less hostile. More job opportunities should be provided to reduce the unemployment rate and migration for greener pastures.

In the instant case, South Africa should reconsider current land tenure statutes that leave room for a very insignificant proportion of the country to own most of the arable land, as well as wealth that has been in the hands of a few cheating and racist whites that do not constitute even one percent of that country’s population. These are the issues requiring urgent corrective measures instead of brother against brother violence. The African Union too must be more aggressive in its drive towards political and economic integration to facilitate movement and residence of Africans in any country of their choice.

*UB Students on internship

Chaining the ghost of power abuse

In a country with scant regard for separation of powers, clearly delineating the extents to which the executive, legislature and judiciary can encroach into each other’s sphere of influence without occasioning turmoil in the polity, cacophony becomes very obvious in any attempt to establish a conversation between justice and equity on the one hand and justice as per the highest bidder on the other. This seems to be the case with Cameroon where disregard for the principle of judicial sanctity has overridden the much acclaimed credo of “equal rights and justice” for all a la Robert Nester Marley, aka Bob Marley.

In the circumstance, some unscrupulous government functionaries have immersed themselves deep into illegalities that make mincemeat of the rule of law or due process, evoking in their wake an atomistic society perpetually at war with itself. Breakdown in law and order has become customary, with the executive arm of government pocketing a legislature complicit in relegating the judiciary to a pun on the chessboard of a towering oligarchy. Local administrators instead of sworn men of law call the shots on purely legal issues.

Matters that are supposed to be heard in originating and appellate courts are surreptitiously transferred to military tribunals. In the event, sentences that have no basis in law are sometimes passed on innocent citizens with little or no prospect of appeal. Such capricious indulgence has its root in obnoxious ego pampering, intended to attract the attention of a deified individual who, ironically, is the head of the judiciary.

As if the situation had not aroused enough drudgery for the ordinary Cameroonian, the now ubiquitous crisis pitting separatist militias against the Biya regime has intensified the situation by the agency of a free-for-all that has attracted disingenuous approaches to pandering to the whims of the maestro of the classical orchestra called Cameroon. Apart from being an all comers affair, it has elicited commentaries of variegated leanings depending on which side of the contending factions they emanate.

Such is the case with a municipality that seems to have been atrophied by the shenanigans of its incidentally upturned Mayor, Ekema Patrick Esunge. Leaning on the vagaries of the crisis, the Mayor has gone into overdrive, oppressing the very denizens whose wellbeing is supposed to be his primordial concern. With pistols reminiscent of American Wild West he struts the streets of Buea accompanied by heavily armed goons, ready to crush any opposition. Boutiques and other business premises are vandalized all in the name of fighting ghost towns.

The legality of his actions remains a moot point as only a court order can authorize the closure of business premises according to current legislation. However, in a system that doesn’t clearly lay claim to respect for the rule of law or due process, Ekema deludes himself in pyrrhic victories, forgetting that the crisis like any other incident on planet earth is amenable to the law of mutability that should end sooner or later.

To edify readers on the ramifications of such apparent deviousness as represented in the malfeasance of the careworn mayor, Barrister Eta Besong Junior, a legal luminary and onetime President of the Cameroon Bar Association consented to an exclusive interview. The inflections of legal implications raised by the legal chieftain leave no one in doubt as to the lawlessness that the Mayor’s actions evoke and the unpalatable consequences that ought to accompany such gung-ho approach to managing public affairs particularly for someone who was elected to protect the very persons he is now hurting.

As always, it is a reader’s delight from The Rambler stable to be savoured with relish.

Read on:

What is your opinion on the legitimacy or otherwise of persistent recourse by the Mayor of Buea to sealing shops within this municipality?

Firstly, the mayor sealing people’s business premises even for a day, one hour, one minute, one year or any length of time is illegal. Every businessman has the right to carry out his business unperturbed, so long as it complies with the regulations to carry out the business. For a mayor to seal stores in the guise of fighting the socio-political unrest reveals a poor appreciation of his role as guarantor of the welfare of citizens within his jurisdiction.

Why is it illegal?

 It is illegal in the sense that, in Cameroon there are laws which govern things like that and penalties for infringement of the law must be applied. You don’t provide a penalty which the law has not itself provided. It is not for anybody… not even the Governor, President of the Republic has the right to provide a sanction which is not provided by law. So the law does not give the mayor the right to do what he is doing.  We have what is called principal penalties, accessory penalties or preventive measures. It is clear they must be provided by law. Once they are not provided by law, you cannot carry them out and even questions of seizure, confiscations are issues which must be determined by a court of law. That is to say there must be a court decision ordering a closure of an establishment, the sealing of an establishment, the confistication of any material in any establishment; it must come by way of a court decision. So, if there is no court decision, nobody has the right to do that type of stuff.  Sometimes they might say the mayor is acting as a municipal authority, but the council is not the mayor. The mayor is one of the executive members of the council but he is not the council, and the municipal decisions and orders are taken by the council in session. The council must sit and take a decision. If that decision is for execution by the mayor, he can only execute it, but when a council decision interferes with public rights, it must have the visa of the supervisory authority.  Now the supervisory authority is the Ministry of Decentralization. If the council takes the decision, it must have the visa if it affects the general public interest for it to have a force of execution.  But there is no council decision to the best of my knowledge which empowers the Mayor under which he can pretend to go around sealing business premises and destroying people’s properties.

Can the mayor be sued since as you put it, what he is doing is illegal? Better still, can he be criminality charged for his actions?

Yes he can. The answer is that every illegal act can be prosecuted in court criminally because if you look at Section 1 of our penal code, the 2016 law which says all persons are equal before the law and are subject to criminal law. Not only in the Cameroon criminal law courts but also subjected to international treaties and conventions wherein Cameroon has ratified. So he can be sued. If you look at the Penal Code Section 34 which talks about closure of an establishment or business places.  The closure of a business is an accessory penalty but which must come after a court decision. If the court has not decided, you cannot execute what is not allowed by law; so if he goes and does that, he can be prosecuted because for one thing he has abused his functions. In law, we say he is acting ultra-vires; that is acting outside the powers the law gives him. Any act that is outside and in contravention of private interest can be prosecuted.

In this case, who can or should initiate criminal prosecution?

In this case the persons whose rights have been infringed can initiate criminal proceedings. It can be initiated by making a complaint to the police or the Gendarmes with a declaration that you are going to claim damages.  The authorities are supposed to take a statement from you as a complainant. Then they are supposed to get witnesses who were present during the infringement; they will now get statements from the person you are complaining against. The Mayor in this case, is called the suspect so they will get a statement from the suspect; he will have to come and explain his actions. They will tell him what the complaint is about, the possible criminal charges against him in accordance with the penal code and ask him to make a statement.

But how would the aggrieved be required or expected to complain to the same police, gendarmes or soldiers with whom the mayor goes around breaking and destroying?

You see, the unfortunate thing for these policemen and gendarmes who are accompanying the mayor is that they are ignorant of the law. The position of the law on this is that, ignorance of the law is not an excuse. So since they are   committing criminal offences, both the mayor and his council workers, the policemen, gendarmes, soldiers who are accompanying him are co-offenders or assessors. So, all of them can be prosecuted. You would sue them in their personal names but you see, they requisition these military people or these forces of law and order and they follow him blindly in executing an illegality.

The law provides for that, if you look at sections 95, 96, and 97 of the penal code, they are assessors, they are co-offenders and they can be charged for conspiracy.

These people who go about perpetrating this with the Mayor often commit assault and battery in the process of arresting people who supposedly broke seals or who simply failed to open their business premises. Sometimes they are arrested and detained until they pay up. Where does such money go to?

First of all, let us look at what they have done, whether it is legal or illegal. The sealing of a man’s business place is illegal and therefore, that businessman has the legitimate right to break the seal. This is what the common man does not know. You have a right to forestall illegality. Self-help is a remedy, so the law says the sealing must be in conformity with legal orders. So if there are no legal orders, the sealing must be lawful. If the sealing is unlawful, you have the right to destroy it. He had sealed this office once, and I destroyed it and I wrote to him, the Procureur General, and since he came with the military I wrote to the military and police to tell them that they were committing an illegality. The business owner has the right to break the seal because the seal is put there unlawfully.

 How about in the case when they commit assault and battery?

It is illegal to assault, even to arrest. If you look at section 291 of the penal code it talks about false arrest. In fact, they are very lucky. It is just that they carry guns and the common man hasn’t got weapons. The common man has a right… if they physically attack you, you have a right to retaliate. There you will be acting on what we call lawful defense. The law provides for lawful defense. Section 34 of the penal code talks about lawful defense and if they come and they are carrying out all those their illegal acts, the person who is now reacting, the businessman, has been provoked so he has another defense of provocation. But the only thing in provocation is that your reaction must be proportionate to the offense, such as, if you are given a blow, don’t kill the man. You know, it must be proportionate. But the one of lawful defense… you have no criminal responsibility if you are acting under lawful defense.

Then what happens to the money that is paid before the seal is removed?

The money is paid illegally. The people are not supposed to pay. I have said that you don’t pay. You cannot promote illegality by falling into illegality. They are paying it from ignorance. The remedy for the person is to break the seal. He puts a piece of paper which he calls a seal and then writes that any breakage is contrary to “section this, this of the penal code…”

Does he conform?

No, that is a vain threat because he cannot prosecute you under that section. The law will not prosecute you.  The law will first of all want to find out whether that seal was lawfully carried out and since there is illegality you cannot be prosecuted for going contrary to an illegality.

What about more apparently serious cases in which he breaks business premises because they did not open especially on the so- called ghost town days?

That is destruction. Section 316 of the penal code talks about destruction. So, if he breaks a man’s place, and has destroyed the door, that’s an offence. All these offences are called disturbance of quiet enjoyment and intruding into privacy. His interference with the man’s business even is illegal and under the law… if you look at Section 89 of the penal code… Being a public servant who he is, doesn’t mean he must work in the civil service.  He is a public servant distinguishable from a civil servant, and according to Section 89 of the penal code there is aggravated circumstance. His act as a public servant, doing what he is doing is aggravating. The quality of his public service aggravates his offense.

Can claims be made?

Yes of course, I mean anyone who suffers an infringement of his right has the right to claim against the offender; that is the person who has infringed his right. That is why under the criminal procedure codes in Cameroon now the criminal case can go along side, if you look at section 61 of the procedure code.  The criminal case can go alongside the civil case. That is once the criminal claim is over it can be put to run on currently.  The legal department might be hesitant to introduce the criminal case. That is another problem which the common man might face but the law permits any individual to carry out what is called private prosecution. If you feel that the legal department will not, you can carry out private prosecution. If you feel that the legal department would not, you draft your charges, passing through extra judicial means. That is to say you get a lawyer or a bailiff to draft it for you and you file it in court. 

Can someone else do that on behalf of another party?

No, you cannot do that. That only person who can act for that party is a lawyer. 

If for instance, the mayor criminally breaks and enters, and as a concerned citizen who shops where he has sealed… Does this not indirectly infringe on one’s right to purchase from a preferred place at a particular time, price and convenience and in a particular manner? If I am concerned that by kicking down the door the mayor has exposed my choice shop to thieves why won’t I sue?

You see, the point is that the real victim of that offense is the owner of the business place because as a purchaser, you have other places you can go and purchase.

What if it is a monopoly?

If it is a monopoly, you are bound to suffer because your rights have been interfered, you have the right to sue. But the question now is, is it a criminal offence? No, there is no criminal offence in your regard. With regard to the person who has the business, there is a criminal offence of the destruction but for you, you can bring a civil action but you will plead that this was a monopoly,  so that was the place you were supposed to purchase from and it has affected.

For instance if he seals a pharmacy for not opening…

But there is not just a single pharmacy in Buea. There are several.

Yes but not all pharmacies stock every drug. If he seals a single pharmacy which stocks a particular drug which is useful to me and my health, and I think it would affect my health or even lead to precipitated death. And even if every other pharmacy is open and I see that I was going to buy a particular drug which is only found there at a cost affordable to me…

That is what I am saying. In case you have a particular place which has that drug. But you know, he might mitigate it to have a defence by saying, “I know that this drug is sold but didn’t go there.” So that is it Hmmm! As I said, any use of force on a person is an offence and that person has the right to sue you if he uses force and interferes with the man’s property.

For example, if the man was ill in the house and couldn’t open on that day or had traveled and not necessarily because he or she was respecting “ghost town?”

Now the problem is this, the man whose business premises has been broken into or has been sealed does not need to justify to Ekema why he didn’t open. A business is a private enterprise and the man has the freedom to open or not. He is not working under any regulation which says you must open. There is no compulsion on a private business man to open. So if you come and say that the man did not open because he was respecting ghost town, the onus is on you to establish that. You the man alleging because in the law he who alleges must prove. And in that case Ekema will be bringing that as a defence. If he is prosecuted and he says the guy did not respect ghost town, that is why I sealed his place, he must have established  first all that there is a rule or some law or regulation authorizing him to seal for not respecting ghost town. Secondly, he must come and show just cause for doing and did you find out why the guy did not open his place? All of those will be for him, it will not be for the man to justify. So this thing of people running to him, explaining to him ‘I locked my place because I went to Douala to buy goods…’ A private businessman is free and has the latitude to open when he has to or not. If he or she is using premises which are regulated.Take for example; beer parlors, off licenses have regulation as to when to open and to close. A man who owns a private business, selling in his store hasn’t got those regulations. There is nothing which says that the man operating a provision store must open at 8:00am or should close at 10:00pm, or a radio station. There is no regulation as to that. You cannot come and say the man was respecting ghost town that’s why he did not open. You see, that will be completely illegal and it is a sort of torture out of illegality as a matter of common sense. What should Ekema do if he must achieve his goal for stalling ghost town? He has nothing to do vis-a-vis the business people.

Sometimes they claim to be taking orders from above. Would you want to imagine that because of the prevailing lawlessness accruing from a collapse of governance, Ekema could just be a pliant tool in the hands of a hidden parochial interest? As such would he not be immune to the laws of the land on which you seem to place so much premium?

You see, it is good that people should know certain things like that. If you stand in court and you say that you acted because you were complying with authority, that is not enough. You must show that the orders of that authority were lawful orders. If the orders are unlawful, your obedience to those orders give room for your prosecution. You are not supposed to obey unlawful orders. So all those who will come and say well, that is why I said his workers, the police, the gendarmes and the soldiers accompanying him can together be prosecuted as co-offenders, assessors or whatever. You are accessory to the whole thing. So they can be prosecuted because what orders he has given them are unlawful.

We are asking this against a backlog of a situation we have in Cameroon today, whereby an old woman and the daughter have been arrested on a simple ground that she gave birth to a certain Chris Anu who is considered as an enemy of the state? 

That is an illegal infringement on her liberty. I agree but who is going to prosecute that woman?

She may be held in custody for a very long while…

Fine, now let me tell you she has a right to bring an action for illegal arrest and imprisonment.  That is false imprisonment.

Against who now?

She goes to the court.

But the system has seemingly buckled under, crashed under a chief magistrate?

The system has crashed in Cameroon but the point is that, Cameroon has ratified many treaties and conventions. The unfortunate thing is that you cannot in most cases go to the international tribunals when you have not exhausted domestic avenues. So you exhaust the domestic avenues knowing that, the domestic avenues will not give the remedies you require but once you have exhausted them, now you seize the international tribunals against Cameroon.

Like the case of Albert Mukong?

Like Mukong did. You seize the international tribunals and there you would have a remedy against Cameroon and Cameroon cannot appeal.

Are sovereign states bound by the decisions of these international tribunals?

Yes Cameroon is bound by their decisions.

Are their decisions not as nonbinding as those of the Hague?

Well, but I think that Cameroon would respect it; they respected it in the case of Albert Mukong.

But they did not respect it in the case of Hamidou Yaya Marafa…

Well, the point is, had Marafa exhausted all the local avenues? I don’t know. I have not seen that judgment so I can’t give a value appraisal of it. But once you have exhausted local avenues and now you seize the international tribunal and you have a judgment, it will be executed. You don’t need to execute it only in Cameroon.  It can be executed anywhere that the state of Cameroon has property. Anywhere that Cameroon has properties; it can be executed because that one is an international jurisdiction. Execution is not limited to the national territory.

We interviewed someone who said the only way that the mayor can get him work on a Monday would be signing an undertaking that if anything should happen to him or that in the event of his shop being attacked, he (mayor) would pay for the eventual damages?

That one is talking like someone who does not know the law. Because first of all Ekema cannot. That type of talk I heard it before that Ekema can’t guarantee the unforeseeable, you cannot guarantee that. At least Ekema is not an insurance company to insure risks; he can’t. His action amounts to torture and torture doesn’t necessarily have to be physical; it can even be mental or emotional. Those are all criminal matters. It is covered by section 132 of our penal code. Any public servant who acts like that creates torture to an individual physically, mentally, physiologically, all of that. It is against section 132 of our penal code.  “Any public servant who uses force to any person shall be punished.” You should look at section 140 which deals with oppression of the penal code. I am talking about the penal code.

Is it morally and logically acceptable what the regime is doing with tax payers’ money? As we talk, assignees of the regime are going around, carrying out propaganda with large chunks of cash and man hours for schools to resume in the heat of the raging war?  

Hmm! let me make this one clear…

Not necessarily legally…

But it must be legal. As of now if you go to the military tribunal, you know that some military personnel have absconded, run away from their posts, gone into hiding and things like that. Some of them are being prosecuted in the military tribunal. But go and see the charges. They are prosecuting them for absconding in times of peace. I am not saying it is time of war. I have brought this because you see, the government does not look at this socio political crisis in the Northwest and Southwest as a time of war. No, they are looking it as unrest, a civil unrest created by some people but not as war. Even though they are all out in war with these people but they look at it as …..

Is it for them to define convenient nomenclature, and act on it or for one to effectively see and believe the evidence one’s own eyes?

No, it is the evidence of your eyes, yes. But times of war or times of peace are defined by statutes. So now, they are saying it is a time of peace. You know it is also good that we know certain things. Has a parent the right to stop a child from going to school? The right to education is a universally declared human right okay! So a child has a right to education.

Just as a child has the right to life?

Yes, just like that…

Just as the right to self preservation

Exactly!

So between life and school, which do you choose in this case? And should you choose school, would that be simply because it is enshrined in legal statutes?

No, if a man put himself in a position of risk. If you voluntarily exposed yourself to a known risk… In law we say that you are “volent” (volenti non fit injuria.) That is the Latin expression. If you expose yourself to a risk, you can’t complain of it. It is not an actionable thing when you expose yourself to a risk, provided what happened is within the law. That is why I brought the case of not going to school. Can the government prosecute every parent who refuses to allow their child to go to school? The penal code provides that any parent who has the means and does not send the child to school commits a criminal offence, which means that if the parent hasn’t got the means the parent does not commit a criminal offence. It also means that since the parent has a right to protect the child against physical harm, if the parent prevents the child because he sees the danger, threat, you have the right not only to protect yourself against threats from somebody to your person; you have a right to protect somebody else against physical threat.

You have the responsibility and a duty as well?

Yes, you have. So if they are going to prosecute you, you will have a defense, that you were preventing a greater risk. Going to school and facing death which is a greater risk? It is facing death. So you are helping to prevent the guy from that eminent danger; you have a defense.

Which is easier to achieve, peace or war? In this case you have thousands of Cameroonians, homo sapiens in the bushes running from state coercion, soldiers, who are killing them, who have burnt their houses and schools in some cases and the same government is asking and has undertaken propaganda for children to be sent to school without as much as providing a foolproof wherewithal for them. Where are they going to go to school? Even if they come back out of the bushes, where do they stay and school? Under trees?

Yes, that is a very tricky question because the first thing is that you will have to know the government will never accept that they burnt houses, burnt schools or killed anybody. You know what happened in the prisons recently; of course people died. Even here in Buea, but the government is saying that nobody died. The government is saying that the military acted professionally. What do they call professional? Because even this penal code punishes the use of live ammunition in cases like that to quell a riot like that where the other people do not have ammunition. You can use it if the other people are armed but if they are not armed the code penalizes everybody who uses it. You can use batons, teargas, but not live ammunition. Even using it and shooting into the air is an infringement of the law. But do you think this country or the government can accept? The government cannot. Since you are the one going to allege that the government through its agents like the military burnt your house, burnt the school, shot people, you will now have the onus to prove and you can’t prove that.

It is not like one is preaching against the back to school propaganda. Far from that. But if you say go to school, I say yes but where is the school? Show us the virtual school?

If there is no school then you cannot be compelled to go to school. You cannot go to a place which does not exist. You cannot ask a man to give you what he hasn’t got or you cannot ask a man to go and seek what is nonexistent. That’s why I wanted to answer your question which is easier to achieve, peace or war? The achievement of peace is a subsequent act.

This is what it is, it is derivative. It is subsequent because it is derived from your act. You do an initial act and derive peace. It is a derivative or a subsequent act. It is difficult to ask for a subsequent factor like that because peace is supposed to be antecedent. Peace should be a sine qua non, existing at all times. So if the state wants to achieve peace then the state is in other words saying that peace does not exist. If you want to achieve war then you are saying peace is what is reigning now and war is a subsequent commodity.

So is the state trying to be smart or it is in a ‘Catch 22’ situation?

Talking about trying to achieve peace is to say there’s no peace as of now. If there is peace, you would not want to achieve peace because it is already within you. You don’t achieve what you already have.

But they say, albeit inadvertently, from time to time that they want and are working for a return to peace?

The catch phrase is “return to.” A “return to peace” means peace had existed, it no more exists and you want to get it again.

And what is the direct opposite of peace? It could be trouble or war, don’t you think?

Yes but now it is multifaceted. It is not just war. The absence of peace is not just war. It might be unrest, “peacelessness” and war.

But war is relative?

That’s what I’m saying. So if they want peace they would they would not…. for you to say that they want peace because there is war is to limit absence of –peace to war, which is a very tricky issue…

But when there is an open confrontation during which one side is shooting and the other is shooting back with resultant heavy casualties, what do you call that? Just a game played with Christmas toys?

The point is that these are factual issues which are definitely difficult to prove. Because by the time you are going to court, you are saying that ‘they shot.’ The question the state counsel or the defense lawyer will ask is ‘who shot who or who shot?’ You know that you don’t see the names of the soldiers by the time they are shooting. If they came here to shoot us, they will not shoot and leave anybody to go and testify. They will kill everybody who is a possible witness.

But sometimes they inadvertently leave traces?

Yes but you know inadvertently. This inadvertence does not tell you who was the perpetrator of the shooting. So you’ll just go and say soldiers were shooting. You have alleged, so you prove; can you give the names of the people, can you describe them, can you show them?

If a shooter got in here, opened fire and wrongly assumed that I had died, whereas I did recognize the soldier and I can identify him subsequently. If, for example, there were CCTV cameras without the knowledge of the shooters…

It is the CCTV camera and your knowledge of the man. The CCTV cameras will do what the law will call corroboration. It corroborates your evidence and that man can never escape criminal procedure; because your evidence is corroborated by the CCTV camera. So there is no doubt. But if it is just your word against the man’s word, there’s doubt. At first in Cameroon, they said the accused will be discharged and acquitted if there was reasonable doubt. But the law in Cameroon now has taken away the word reasonable doubt. Now even if the doubt is just an iota of doubt, there is doubt. In this case it should be acquitted.

Beyond CCTV cameras, there could be forensics. For instance shooters sometimes can leave incriminating traces behind them, especially drugged, callous executors?

But you know for sure forensic evidence in Cameroon is wanting. We used to have in West Cameroon where they used to send policemen to go to London; to go and do forensic investigation. So they can come here and just by touching this book, you think that you are gone and nothing is there but they would have gotten your finger prints. That even the finger prints must have finger print indexes. We have it in the law but which is not applied. Otherwise nobody should have two, three, four ID cards. But you see, we copy laws, but to put them in application, there is a vacuum. Just cobwebs

Interviewed by  Charlie Ndi Chia, *Takie Esther Ajougho,

Sengue Carine Koke, Pauline Enanga Etonge, Anu Alice Azemchap (UB journalism students on internship)

ORBITUARY Mr. Justice Frederick Alobwede Ebong

The Ebong, Alobwede, Ntoko and Nzegge families announce with profound regret, the death of their Father, Brother, Uncle and Pillar, Retired Justice Frederick Alobwede Ebong on Friday, the 24th of May, at Medstar Georgetown Hospital, Washington DC at 1:45 pm after a brief illness.

Justice Ebong was born in Small Soppo Buea on the 8th of September 1945 to Adolf Alobwede Ebong, and Regina Ebane Ebong. He was married to Mrs. Julie Ebude Ebong nee Ntoko Ebong of Blessed Memory. They both had four children. Ebong Emmanuel Enongene, Emmanuella Emade, Princewill-Albert, Ebong Christy Ebane and Ebong Sylvia Mesame, with five grandchildren and a host of family, friends, and political affiliates to mourn him.

He attended RCM School Small Soppo Buea, from 1953 to 1961, and Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria, from 1961-1965. He later left Cameroon to attend University Preparatory School in Moscow State University from 1965-1966 and progressed into Russian Kiev State University Faculty of Law where he obtained a Degree of Law from 1966-1970.

He served the government of Judicial Ministry of Cameroon for 29 years where he progressed to the highest rank as justice of the High Court.

After obtaining a Law Degree from Kiev State University, in 1970, he was employed by the West Cameroon Public Service in Buea as an Executive Officer on April 28th 1971, and worked with the Secretary of State for Urban Development-Victoria. In June 1971 he became the First Assistant Divisional Officer in Mundemba. He was later posted to Mezam Divisional Office as Assistant Divisional Officer in March 1972, where he worked until November 1973.

He gained admission into the Cameroon School of Magistracy,Yaoundé (ENAM) where he studied Magistracy up to August 1975 and was posted as Legal Officer in the Procureur General’s Chambers. In July 1976 he was integrated as a Magistrate of Cameroon. In August 1976 he was posted to Kumba as presiding Magistrate to work with Justice Anyangwe of Blessed Memory.  In August 1977 he was posted to Ndian Division as presiding Magistrate where he worked for a year until August 1978.

After working as an Attaché in the Procureur General’s office in Bamenda Northwest Province in 1980, he was posted as First Resident Magistrate in Menchum Division. In July 1982 he was promoted as Grade 2 Magistrate and in October 1983 he was posted as Presiding Magistrate in Bamenda Central.

In August 1985 he was posted to Nso, Bui Division, as a Crown Counsel also known as known as Procureur de la Republique, and in August 1988 he was promoted as Grade 3 Presiding Magistrate in Limbe where he worked until November 1991. He was posted to Mbengwi as a Justice of the High Court and Magistrate’s Court after being promoted as Grade 4 Magistrate. In July 1995 he was posted as one of the Vice Presidents of the Court of Appeal in Buea and in 1998 he was posted as a Sub-Director of Judicial Co-operation in the Ministry of Justice in Yaoundé.

He was very active in the Southern Cameroons Movement for Independence and declared the Restoration of the Independence of the Southern Cameroons with other members of the SCNC at midnight on December 31st 1999, breaking the year 2000. The love for equality, freedom and justice for all triggered his commitment in the Southern Cameroons Movement for Independence and drove him towards this declaration.

In 2000, he retired from the public service in Cameroon and left Cameroon for Nigeria, seeking refuge with his entire family. In 2006, he was resettled by the UNHCR to the United States with his family. He became a citizen of the United States of American in 2011 and lived in Washington DC until his death. 

He was a loving husband and dad, a gentle soul inside out.

He will be greatly missed by his children, grandchildren, relatives and friends.

Funeral arrangements for his Home coming.

Friday, July 12th 2019 – Viewing, Wake and Celebration of life in Washington DC

Saturday, July 13th Funeral Mass and Burial and Repast in Washington DC

Sunday, July 14th Thanksgiving Service and Celebration of life by Family in Washington DC

More details of the program will soon be made public.

                                                                                                                 June 6th, 2019

Condolence Message for Ma

Bernice Westerman

Following the peaceful passing in Kansas, U.S.A. of Miss Bernice Westerman, pioneer principal of Saker Baptist College, Limbe on Tuesday, 21st May 2019, the ladies of the Sakerettes Transglobal Alliance (STA) wish to express their solidarity and heartfelt condolences to the entire community of Sakerettes, past and present, those of the Baptist Boys Secondary School in Buea as well as the  former Baptist Teacher Training Colleges in Soppo, and Ndu and to those all over Cameroon, particularly in Mbingo,Mbem, Belo and Kumba, whose lives she so meaningfully touched in the course of her long and devoted labour of love for the development of the young people of this Country, (Cameroon).

As a delegation of the Sakerettes Transglobal Alliance gets ready to give her the most befitting tribute at her funeral in Sioux Falls, South Dakota this weekend, we join everyone who is touched by her passing on, in praying to our Lord, Jesus Christ to grant her soul eternal rest and peace.

2033 West McDermott Drive Suite 320-150, Allen, Texas 75013