Erratic mayor grounds business in Buea

Lawlessness is certainly not the preserve of notorious criminals or jailbirds. This assertion has recently been ascribed credence by Buea Mayor Ekema Patrick Esunge, who has decided that the wrath from his inability to wrestle Ambazonian separatists to a standstill on the issue of suffocating ghost-towns, has to fall on businessmen and cab drivers.

To the extent that indiscriminate shutting down of business premises and seizure of driving licenses and vehicle documents from township taxi drivers as a means to force them defy ghost town edicts has become customary, highly placed government functionaries and masters of the law have begun trading legal punches in regard to the desirability or otherwise for Mayor Ekema to unilaterally seal business premises without regard to governing statutes.

Pundits aver that his malignant display of insensitivity to the plight of the residents of Buea municipality infringes onSection 19 sub A of the Cameroon penal code, which gives only the court powers to hand down such decisions and eventual enforcement.

Mayor Ekema on his part holds fast to his draconian measures, claiming to be politically correct, in a bid to battle with the ghost of intransigence.

According to Chief Barrister Eta Besong Jr., who broke the seal placed on the doors of his chambers, the actions of the mayor are illegal, untenable and bad. “The first thing we have to find out is whether what is being done is in accordance with the law, or it is in violation of the law. I believe what is going on now, is in total violation of the law. The constitution says that everybody has inalienable and sacred rights, and if these rights are violated and swept under the carpet, you don’t expect the people to say Amen! Draconian measures have never solved any problem in the world. Draconian measures create only resistance,” he noted.

 He further explains that, “the constitution says no person may be compelled to do what the law does not prescribe, the same constitution says no person may be punished except by virtue of a law enacted and published, again the constitution says no person shall be harassed on grounds of his beliefs,” he stated in a local television programme.

In accordance with the law, if a business operator believes that it is not in his interest to open on Mondays, you cannot punish him, otherwise you would be going against the constitution. He explained that “leadership is abiding by the rules and regulations of a country. There is a distinction between what the mayor says and what a municipality says. The mayor is not the municipality; municipal decisions are taken during council sessions and must be forwarded to the supervisory authorities for a visa.”

What the mayor is doing is both criminally liable and civilly liable because he is acting in contravention of the laws. You cannot be legally wrong and say you are politically correct. Is closure of establishments and impounding of taxis a solution?

“I am asking the Mayor to read section 19 sub A of the penal code, which talks about the closure of establishments. That is an accessory penalty, it says that, that measure cannot be taken except by a decision of a court and it is only enforceable by a court decision. The mayor has no court decision and is acting outside of the law. The mayor has to be told enough is enough and end this wild goose chase that would never lead to legality.”

Monday morning saw Bonduma to Great Soppo sealed, while cab drivers flocked to the Buea council, demanding the release of some 200 taxis confiscated the previous night by council thugs, aided by security forces at the behest of the Mayor. According to field reports, they were offered bribes and other cajolements like gallons of petrol, to work on Mondays. These drivers stood their grounds saying, they would only operate on Mondays if there is maximum security and if passengers would be available, which was very uncertain.

Tuesday saw council thugs and heavily armed policemen, picking up some business owners and sealing their shops, on grounds that, they did not operate on Monday. Sealing continued from Checkpoint down to the Total gas filling station in Molyko. It is also important to note that, some business operators along the major highway revealed that, some of them squeeze in some money into the hands of the thugs, before their businesses can be spared from sealing.

This reporter carried a tour and met many of these business people, who described the mayor’s actions as inhuman, because of the fact that, even people’s makeshift businesses along the road side, were sadistically destroyed. All of them revealed that, they cannot operate on Mondays because of a high the level of insecurity, which some of them noted even the military cannot give them assurance.

In recent times, many business premises have been burnt down by unidentified men for operating on Mondays, taxis set on fire, businessmen and cab drivers threatened.

Nathaly Mojoko,  a makeshift business owner along the roadside says “the mayor walks with the world’s security, which even follow him to his house and guard him 24\7. What about poor people like us? My brother who works with the CDC is almost useless now after his hands were chopped off by separatists. I would only operate on Mondays if only I see the mayor walking alone on Mondays. I cannot be deceived, my life is more important,”she ended.

By Atembeh Ngewung Lordfred

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