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Detained Anglophone Leaders, 25 Others To Face Common Case 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

The ruling of the Yaounde Military Tribunal delivered on Friday April 7 indicates that Barrister Agbor Balla, Dr. Fontem Neba, Mancho Bibixy and 25 other Anglophones detained in Yaounde would be tried in one case.

The ruling lays to rest all legal quarrels between the prosecution and the defence as to whether the trial of Anglophone leaders should be separated from that of the 25 people arrested in connection with the ongoing crisis in the Northwest and Southwest Regions or not.

During an earlier court session on March 23, the prosecution said the detainees should be tried in one case because their offences are similar and inter-related.

The defence lawyers, led by Barrister Ben Muna, had taken exception to the motion. Although they argued that the two groups of detainees could not be tried in one case because their offences not only varied, but are alleged to have been committed on different dates, time and places, the tribunal ruled in favour of the prosecution.

Many of the defence lawyers rejected the ruling as a flagrant disregard of the law. Barrister Muna, however, told The Post that they wouldn’t appeal against the ruling.

He said they are ready to defend the accused persons when the substantive matter begins on April 27.

The accused persons, who have been in pre-trial detention for many months, are accused of secession, terrorism, violence and terrorism against the State.

Agbor Balla and his colleagues appeared in court last Friday in high spirits while Mancho still sang liberation songs as he alighted from the prison van.

Many Anglophones who are vocal on the issue of Federation are being targeted for arrest by security operatives. Some of them who were arrested recently include one SDF militant in Yaounde Celest Atanga.

Meanwhile, the three Anglophone journalists – Tilarious Atia Azonyhwi of the Sun Newspaper, Amos Fofung of The Guardian Post Newspaper and one Mofor Ndong – arrested on February 9 in Buea and detained at the Judicial Police in Yaounde were transferred to Kondengui on Wednesday April 5.

According to one of the defence lawyers, Barrister Christopher Ndong, the three journalists were simply transferred to await trial in prison. It is not yet known when they will be called up at the Yaounde Military Tribunal for trial.

Police arrested Atia and Fofung after they allegedly found tracks calling for the re-enforcement of the ghost town operation in the Northwest and Southwest Regions in Mofor Ndong’s bag.

The police did not budge when the two journalists said they did not know the contents of their colleague’s bag. Even Mofor testified that his two colleagues did not know what was in the bag, but the police did not leave them off their hook.

Meantime, the trial of the Anglophone leaders and the 25 detainees will take an accelerating twist on April 27, when the prosecution presents its witness to the court.

Trauma

Since the crisis took a dramatic twist last December, family members have been in pains, taking care of loved ones detained in Yaounde.

The arrest of some family heads has triggered untold hardship and misery in such families.

Prayers in almost all the Churches are focused on the need for the Anglophone crisis to be quickly brought to a peaceful end through dialogue. Sermon upon sermon has called on the authorities to tamper justice with mercy for the sake of peace, dialogue, unity and national reconciliation.

Calls on Government to release the leaders and discuss with them, have continued to flow from many different opinion leaders.

           

 

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