Monday, 14 May 2018

Front page


Agbor Balla on RFI:
-Ambazonia Independence was precipitated, ill-timed
 -Biya created the Anglophone problem, he cannot be part of the solution

The President of the defunct Consortium of Anglophone Civil Societies, Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla, who is also the President of the Fako Lawyers Association , FAKLA and Founder/CEO of Buea-based Centre For Human Rights And Democracy in Africa, has said that the Biya regime created the Anglophone crisis, and they are incapable to find solutions to the problem. Balla says about 1000 Anglophones have been jailed since the unset of the crisis and that more and more civilians and soldiers are being killed on a daily basis as the crisis escalates. He says from every indication the Biya regime is at a loss of solutions to the crisis and only a new regime will hopefully solve the problem. The widely travelled and free-talking Vice President of the African Bar Association in charge of Central Africa, who spent eight months in jail because of his role in organizing and coordinating Anglophone protests, was guest last week, on Radio France International, RFI’s program, ‘Spotlight on Africa’. The following are excerpts of the exchange.
**Welcome Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla. What’s the latest on the jailed Anglophone leaders that were extradited from Nigeria?

Human Rights Lawyer And President of the outlawed Consortium of Anglophone Civil Societies,
Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla, said it all on RFI
--The latest is that there is no latest in the sense that we don’t have any information. So far, nobody has seen them; nobody has spoken to them be it their lawyers or their families. I have been there twice with a couple of lawyers and we were not allowed to see them.

**Aside the leaders transferred from Nigeria, do you know how many Anglophones in total are currently in custody?

--There are close to 1000 detained between two maximum security prisons in Yaounde- The Kondengui Principal Prison where I spent eight months and the Kondengui Central Prison where Bibixy Mancho, Pen Terrence and others are being kept. There are others detained at the Gendarmerie Headquarters, SED, in Yaounde. Others are at the Judicial Police Headquarters in Yaounde. Then there are about 409 in the Central Prison in Buea, SW region. Others are scattered in the Bamenda Central Prison and in other prisons in the country. These are just the ones we can identify. Some have already been tried and sentenced to various prison terms. Pen Terrence for example was given 12 years, while others had 11 years. Mancho Bibixy and Tsi Conrad were found guilty of terrorism, secession and group rebellion. Their matter has been a adjourned to the 24 of May when hopefully the verdict will be pronounced.

**Why do you think you were released from Jail last Year?

--To be sincere and honest with you, we don’t really know which criteria were used to release myself, Dr. Fontem, Justice Ayah Paul and about 51 others.

**Do you support the violence carried out by some separatist groups? They say they are defending the people against crimes carried out by the Cameroonian security forces.

--It’s a very tricky one for me. I believe in self-defense; I believe in the right for people to protect themselves and for people to protect their people. I think the right to self-defense is a fundamental right. But I don’t agree when you go beyond self-defense and you start doing things which are out of the law. That is where I have a problem with the ongoing violence. I think the whole issue of self-defense also stems from the fact that most of the people I have spoken to and who advocate an armed struggle justify their position by saying that the government arrests and kidnaps people arbitrarily and takes them to Yaounde to be detained and tried. Maybe these guys are trying to protect the people against these arbitrary actions of the government. So it is quite a tricky balance; people fighting in self-defense and committing offences at thesame time.

**The violence is quite close to your home. In fact your family house in Mamfe was attacked. How did this make you feel?

--I felt a bit sad and disappointed because I believe that for most of my adulthood I have in one way or the other contributed or fought for our people. I did not start the struggle in 2015 as most people are wont to believe. Maybe I came to the limelight only in 2015/2016. But I have been in the struggle all along, since the days of the All Anglophone Conferences when I was a young boy. So for me who went to jail because of the struggle and having my dad buried whilst I am in jail, to have our family house burnt, I don’t think it was fair. But it is not the majority of the people and that’s why I am not very worried. I believe that in any struggle you have people who disagree with you. You will always have people who do not reason or think like you do. But I caution violence, and I keep telling whoever cares to listen that we can disagree without being disagreeable. True, we have a common goal to fight; to fight for the right to self determination of our people. But we must understand that not everybody will think like you.

Panic Grips K’ba as ‘Amba Boys’ Signal their Presence

For close to two weeks now the villages of Kake I, Kake II and Dika in Kumba I Sub-Division, Mbalangi and Ediki in Mbonge Sub-Division and some areas in Konye Sub-Division, all in Meme of the Southwest Region have been grounded by the ongoing Anglophone crisis with cases of constant gunshots, kidnappings, burnings, lootings and constant fleeing of villagers into bushes; swelling up the number of internally displaced persons in this part of the country.
By Doh Bertrand Nua in Kumba
Amba boys signal their presence in Kumba with all-night gunshots
Constant gun battles between Cameroons defense and security forces and soldiers of the ‘Ambazonia’ deense forces have left inhabitants of Kumba, chief town of Meme Division in a constant state of fear and alert to escape to safer zones of the town when need be.
            For close to two weeks now, Kumba city dwellers have lived with the thundering sound of gunshots from the nearby villages of Kake I, Kake II and Diffa all in Kumba I sub-division. These inhabitants go to bed to the frightening sound of the thousand gunshots and wake up with the urgent blast of bullets that sound like bombs. This leaves many sleepless. For the past five days, the frightful sounds of gunshots has been in intervals of about 45 minutes seemingly approaching like a hurricane as described by a Kumba city dweller.
            As the population begin becoming use to the daily sounds of gunshots few metres from their homes, more displaced families from villages like Kake I, Kake II, Diffa, Ediki, Mbalangi and other villages in Kumba I and Mbonge sub-divisions respectively have been trooping into Kumba. This evident in the faces of aged mothers running barefooted into streets in Kumba with bags of cloths at the sound of approaching gunshots and military vehicles. 
            The fear is also very noticeably painted on the faces of youths hawking boiled groundnuts, as they eye the approaching fleet of masked military men brandishing massive guns, seated behind trucks, staring with cerise eyes send children fleeing for their dear lives, dropping their trays until they reach safer areas. Those who can’t make it to Kumba are crowded all over bushes with reports of heavily pregnant women, old mothers, new born babies and children.

Elections Will not Hold in Mbonge until….

-Mbonge councilors tell Meme SDO 
Councilors of Mbonge council have noted that elections cannot be held in the sub-division with the ongoing Anglophone crisis. The councilors are urging the President to call for a ceasefire in the war which he declared on the people. They also condemned the burning down of villages and destruction of property by the army.
By Doh Bertrand Nua in Kumba
Mayor Daniel Matta Mokambe of Mbonge council
The Senior Divisional Officer of Meme Chamberlin Ntou’ou Ndong has urged municipal councilors of Mbonge council to return to their respective villages and carry out sensitization towards a return to normalcy and stability in the Sub-Division. The SDO urged the councilors to free their populations from the grip of Ambazonians and to sensitize them to register their names on the electoral registers.
            The SDO was speaking through his second assistant, Hermia Njonje, on Friday May 11, 2018 at the Kumba city hall. It was in her address at the first ordinary session of the Mbonge council aimed to examine and adopt the 2017 management and stores accounts of the council. 
            “Councilors are representatives of the population who are at the same time their children. I have been asked by my boss to use this opportunity to mandate you to go back and hold strong sensitization talks with your children, for them to turn away from detractors who have nothing good to offer but deception,” Mrs Njonje said, noting that it has gone down in history that due to insecurity in the sub-division, Mbonge council was forced to hold its council session in far away Kumba. The crisis that has seen youths engaging themselves in useless battles with the state, has led to many youths finding themselves in early graves.
            The ASDO however hailed the Mbonge Mayor and his staff for the 74% realization despite the staggering economic climate in Mbonge. Though the ASDO hailed improvements in infrastructural development, provision of benches, chairs and didactic materials, he at once frowned at the ineffective resumption of schools which he blamed on the crisis.
She called on the Mayor to work with the DO and local chiefs to improve on the hygiene and sanitation of the council area. 
            While addressing the councilors, the Mayor of Mbong, Chief Daniel Matta Mokambe praised the courage of councilors who braved the odds to travel to Kumba to attend the council session despite the crisis that has hampered revenue collection by the council.
            On his achievements despite the odds, Mokambe revealed that the council constructed an office and toilets for the motor park, carried out road maintenance, constructed classrooms, paid workers salaries, constructed a block of nursery school at Bakundu, a pit latrine at Marumba Mboa, equipped public schools with didactic materials, gave support to livestock rearers amongst others.
            Mayor Mokambe noted that the session was not only aimed to examine the accounts but to look for ways to surmount challenges with the view to changing the lives of the population of Mbonge. He reminded councilors on the need to take part in the development of the municipality, urging them to embrace team spirit so as to maintain and improve on the growth of the municipality.
            The Mayor revealed that out of the over one billion budgeted for the council in 2017, the sum of over FCFA 893 million was effectively collected as revenue, while over FCFA 832 million was spent with an excess of FCFA 60 million.

Evaluation of Road Projects:

Works Minister Cowardly Cancels Visit to K’ba
By Doh Bertrand Nua in Kumba
Ministry of Public Works Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi
Threats from ‘Ambazonia’ separatist fighters compelled the Minister of Public Works to cancel a visit to some road construction sites in Kumba, Meme division last week.
            The Secretary of State in the Ministry of Public Works cancelled his visit abruptly fearing that his convoy might be ambushed by the ‘Ambazonia’ defense forces.
            The visit had to take the Secretary of State to the remaining portions of the Kumba-Mamfe road. According a copy of the program that we procured, the visit was initially slated for Tuesday 8 May 2018, but was postponed to Wednesday 9 May.
            Upon arriving at Buea Wednesday and after taking breakfast at the Buea Mountain Hotel, the visit was annuled despite assurances of military protection along the Buea-Kumba-Mamfe road.
            The minister cancelled his visit even though the Meme SDO had prepared some seven military vehicles full with armed-to-the-teeth security men to welcome him at the entrance into Meme.
            After waiting at the SDO’s office for close to three hours the military guys were asked to return to their various posts. The DO’s, Mayors, Divisional Delegates and journalists who were to accompany the Minster were all asked to return home.

Yaounde Military Tribunal:

A to Z of Mancho BBC’s Dramatic Trial
By Innocent Kum in Yaounde
Mancho Bibixy took the Yaounde Military Court by storm
It was a field day on May 8 at the Yaounde Military Tribunal when the case pitting the state of Cameroon against Anglophone activists including Coffin revolutionist, Mancho Bibixy came up for the umpteenth time.
            At exactly 9.15 am on that day, Mancho Bibixy and the six others arrived at the court in a white police van (Hiace bus).
            They are then led into the courtroom to sit and wait for their turn as 31 different cases were on schedule. Mancho and Co had to sit and watch all through these cases as the President of the court passed judgments or adjournments. Most of the cases were not linked to the Anglophone crisis.
            However, when the case related to the Anglophone crisis first came up, it was the case between the State of Cameroon against Abeng Gerald Ndam, Tamina Terence, Chongong Kelly and Stecy Ngwe.
            Their own case was immediately adjourned to June 5 because the prosecution had not notified the defence formally of the opening of legal proceedings.
            Another case of Anglophone detainees that followed was that between the state against Ade Kenneth Chi, Anyangwei Lelly Anyangwei and Fonyuy Terence.
            As was with the others, the matter was immediately adjourned to 6 June. It should be noted that this was the 18th time the case was adjourned without any proper hearing. Several other cases were heard before the court went into recess at 5.00pm

Enter Mancho Bibixy case
            At about 6.53pm, after a long wait, the Presiding judge of the Military Tribunal, Col. Abega Mbezoa epse Eko Eko finally made her way into the courtroom for proceedings to start.
            She lifted her voice asking why there was much noise in the hall. Thomas Awah Junior, one of the detainees immediately retorts, telling the Judge that they keep adding new charges after each passing hearing without justification or evidence. He tells the magistrate that he hopes she will not add noise-making as another charge.
            Angry and furious, the magistrate orders the prison guards to handcuff Thomas Awah out of the hall, which order was immediately executed.
            In return, Mancho and the five others remaining in the box, attempt to stage a walk out in protest to the decision to evict Thomas Awah out of the courtroom but they are immediately blocked at the door by the State Prosecutor (Commissaire du Gouvernement), Engono Thadée, with the help of other prison guards.
            The magistrate then calls for more reinforcements from the military which is immediately done. She yells at the detainees for about two minutes before one of them decides to take the floor. Tsi Conrad expressed his bitterness at the treatment they receive from the court as they are brought in early in the morning and kept to wait the whole day only for proceedings to begin late at night and then being postponed. He prayed the court to equally respect their time in that aspect.

UN to Review Cameroon’s Human Rights Record

By Innocent Kum in Yaounde
Cameroon’s human rights record will be examined by the United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday, 16 May 2018, according to a statement issued in Geneva.
             Cameroon is one of the 14 States to be reviewed by the Working Group during its upcoming session taking place from 7 to 18 May, the communiqué stated. It will be the third time the body is reviewing Cameroon’s human rights record.
            “The documents on which the reviews are based include national report - information provided by the State under review, information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities and information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights institutions, regional organizations and civil society groups” the statement issued May 11 explained.
The UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.