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The State has no case against Barrister Agbor Nkongho and Co. -Barrister ACHU Julius NGU, CPDM Militant



The State has no case against Barrister Agbor Nkongho and Co.
-Barrister ACHU Julius NGU, CPDM Militant

Cameroon and the two English speaking regions are experiencing a tense socio political and economic climate since the teachers and lawyers trade unions called up strikes on issues regarding their respective profession. Due to laxity and a snobby approaches adopted by the stakeholders, the strike has taken a different twist from being just a professional strike to what is now called the “Anglophone crisis or problem”. The immediate consequences to this crisis are the prolonged closure of schools and suspension of court hearings in both the South West and the North West regions.

After a series of stale negotiations, which ended up in multiple arrests including the arrest of the syndicate leaders causing others to go in hiding or on the run, there is a lot of uncertainty on the academic calendar in these two Anglophone regions. Beside these arrests, the state has also proceeded in shutting down internet in these two regions since January 21st as a measure to control the flow of information and the call of civil disobedience called by the consortium leaders now in the Diaspora after the state have manned and caution private media houses on how they cover the events. These measures have rendered life and the business climate in these two regions very difficult.

At these crossroads and amidst multiple calls from the state for school resumptions and from those leaders in their Diaspora for strike to continue and periodic ghost town as a pacific way to resist what they call government unwillingness to dialogue with the people and call to release all the arrested, there is a dark cloud hovering over the sky of the educational sector in Cameroon as a whole.

It is in this line that the SUN talked to Barrister ACHU Julius, a barrister in the Cameroon Bar Association and fervent militant of the ruling CPDM party. He weighed in on the arrests of Anglophone leaders, internet shutdown in Anglophone regions and more. He talked to The Sun’s Douala correspondent, Ashu Martin Akepe. Excerpts;

The strike which started as the teachers’ and lawyers’ strike is now considered “the Peoples strike” what is your take on this?

It is still a teachers’ and lawyers’ strike. Nothing has changed despite the fact that other issues have been raised which to me does not change the initial course of the strike. What we actually want is a good educational system for our kids and a judicial system which will permit the practice of our bi-jurial legal system without anyone trampling or over riding the other.

As regard federalism or cessation, they aren’t things that can be gotten by writing or just talking. Federalism which I strongly believe in, I think is a process that needs a political will and can only come through a referendum; which only the president can call for or 2/3 of the parliament . At a point when the president doesn’t approve of it and he has the majority in both houses of the parliament, I don’t see is sailing through.
About secession, it is not given but taken. There is no political will that can cede to this except people take up arms, something I don’t support and consider impossible. As a lawyer and politician, I don’t like impossibility. The spices to all these problems is the absence of bilingualism and the abject marginalization of Anglophones.

Reports have it that people are being arrested and taken to unknown destinations, is this correct in a state of law like Cameroon?

It is wrong. It sends out very wrong signal about the state of law in Cameroon. Most of these people are being arrested because they make their opinion known with respect to the situation at hand. To me, there is no problem giving your opinion on a problem. At this point it leaves us with the impression that Cameroonians are no longer free to give their opinion on issues concerning the life of the state.

The administrators are doing all what they are doing today because they are hanging over the law on terrorism and state security which is contained in the New Penal Code. This law has given civil and military men the power to arrest persons on mere allegations. In a state of law this should not happen. It is the correct moment when the bar association could have used to challenge the legality and the validity of this law which is anti freedom, but the bar association is dormant. Since this law has to do with issues involving state security and issues here afferent are taken care of only by the military tribunal. This explains why all those arrested in relations to this problem are being ferried to Yaoundé, the seat of the tribunal. That not withstanding, this attitude of the government is not acceptable. It portrays a contrary image of the democratic society which the head of state is preaching. If we have to continue like this when people are arrested because they give their views openly, then I’m afraid to say that we are going back to the days of one party system.

How legal is the document signed by some trade unionist calling off the strike when we know that all of them didn’t sign?

It is difficult to give a direct answer to this question since we all knew all those who signed the first document which called the strike and now we see different persons signing for them. At this point when some other individuals signed in the legal leaders, it casts a lot of doubts on the credibility of the document presented. It seems in this country that manipulation has become official. Instead of solving a problem, the government is instead fanning it by abusively arresting people. If kids are not going to school it is because of the trauma and fear of brutality from the men in uniform. No parent would want their kids to subdue what the University of Buea students experienced last year. Come to think of the numerous arrests in the quarters, does it encourage the parents or frighten them?

Let all those who are advocating for kids to go back to school, like the governors, ministers and elites send their kids to school first in those zones.

MINPOSTEL threatens people with imprisonment for the propagation of unconfirmed information, is it her role?

There is a lot of cacophony in the whole issue as regard communication during crisis moment like this. There was supposed to be a cabinet meeting where the government will come out with her communication and stance. But what do we have, it is everybody who is saying anything. The ministers on their side, the elites, the governors and the confussion continue and situation keeps decaying as the days go bye.

It is clear that the PM has no power to even control his minister so in a system like ours ,it is only the president who have the final say to this problem since him alone can sanction. It here that I strongly believe that the national bilingualism commission created by him shall come to play a major role in quailing some of the salient problems raise so far on the condition that not the same people are appointed.

Looking at the charges weighing on barrister BALLA and co ranging from terrorism to treason, do you think the state has a case?

It is easy to lay accusation against someone, but the major challenge is to bring forth prove to justify your accusations. At this point it is the government which is accusing them so it is left for them to bring forth the proofs. I wonder if the government will ever have a case against this people except there is something else that we don’t know or still the executive arm will use its heavy influence unto the judges to influence their judgment. Since the boko haram terrorist have been attacking and killing in the northern regions, no one has heard the government opening up a case against them and now they are painting some individuals as terrorist simply because they raise their voices openly.

What is your take on the arrest of chief justice ayah Paul ABINE?

It is a very big scandal to see an Assistant Attorney General To The Supreme Court of Cameroon being arrested by mere judicial police officer like a common criminal. The shocking thing is that, his colleagues are doing absolutely nothing. They are giving us the impression that they are afraid. If the judiciary cannot defend its right, will they be able to render justice to the common man in the street? This simply shows that the judicial system in Cameroon has failed. It seems we are in a military state where officers can do whatever they like. More so for magistrate like justice Ayah to be arrested, it takes a procedure and he can only be summoned and interrogated by magistrate of his rank or his superior not mere judicial police officers as is the case.

What is your take on the internet shut down in the South West and North West regions?

It is saddening and this is because most of our ministers are civil servant and civil administrators trained in ENAM. They only know how to execute and receive orders from hierarchy. They don’t way the consequences of their decisions before taking them. This will have a big blow on the economy of the country as a whole as almost all major economic activities are in a stand still due to the absence of connectivity. At this point even the security of the state at the frontiers is at stake. How will the customs monitor frontier trade and send repots to hierarchy?

Barrister, can a civilian obtain equal and faire judgment in a military court?
It is possible. Don’t forget that the judges who seat in these courts besides being soldiers they are trained magistrates. The only different is that they are soldiers and are tougher in decision taking than in the civil courts. They have the law and their consciences to render justice.

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