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Bafia Bishop Disappears: Suicide, Murder Or Abduction? 

By Etienne Mainimo Mengnjo & Sylvester Atemnkeng

The Bishop of Bafia in the Mbam & Inoubou Division in the Centre Region, Mgr. Jean-Marie Benoît Balla, is reported dead.

News of his passing away on May 31 rocked Yaounde and its environs like a hurricane.

While some observers are of the opinion that he committed suicide, others are afraid that he might have been murdered or abducted.

That notwithstanding, information that first appeared on the social media at around 4.00pm, indicated that: “Mgr. Balla, Bishop of Bafia, is missing, feared dead.” It was recounted that the Bishop carefully parked his car with number plate CE 9503 V on the River Sanaga Bridge around Ebebda and reportedly jumped into the river.

A note apparently left by him alongside all the car documents, simply read: “Je suis dans l’eau,” (loosely translated as “I am in the water).

The Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, of Mbam & Inoubou is quoted to have confirmed the information about the incident in a telephone chat. He said they are no witnesses, yet, concerning the incident.

He admitted that the car was well parked along the River Sanaga Bridge with a written note indicating that he (Bishop Balla) is in the water. He called for calm, indicating that public authorities have opened up investigations into the incident.

The Post gathered from another source that the car was seen parked early in the morning of that May 31 by some fishermen returning from routine activities. They reportedly recognised the car as belonging to the Bishop of Bafia and in it was a written note alongside the car documents.

Some travellers who used that stretch of the highway also confirmed that the said car was seen along the bridge from the early hours of the morning, but nobody paid any attention, considering that they least suspected such an incident had occurred.

While a search to recover the body was ongoing, by press time, some observers feared that his presumed captors might have taken him to an unknown destination. The incident hampered the smooth flow of traffic on the bridge, orchestrating a serious traffic jam.

Bishop Jean-Marie Benoit Balla was born on May 10, 1959 in Oweng. After his primary and secondary education, he got into the seminary and was ordained as Priest on June 20, 1987, in Yaounde by late Archbishop Jean Zoa. He was appointed Bishop of Bafia on May 3, 2003, and became the ordained bishop of the same diocese on July 12 of the same year.

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