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Esu Does Not Want To Evict Danpullo – Barrister Robert Fon 

The Counsel for the Fon of Esu, HRH Albert Chi Kawzoh Kum Achuo II, has refuted allegations that Esu people want to evict business magnate Baba Danpullo. According to Barrister Robert Fon Nso, they want him to respect the limits their late Fon gave him to graze his cattle. Barrister Fon spoke to The Post in an exclusive interview after the Governor of the Northwest banned the press conference organised by the Fon of Esu on January 12, 2016. The people of Esu village have been engaged in a long-drawn dispute over land that Danpullo has appropriated for his Elba Ranch. The dispute has dragged on for close to 30 years Read on.

What transpired after the Governor stopped the Fon of Esu’s press conference on Friday, January 12, 2016?

After the Governor frustrated the press conference of the Fon of Esu the Governor’s Secretary General, Monono Absolom Woloa, invited the Fon to the office. I accompanied the Fon as his Counsel. The Secretary General received the Fon on behalf of the Governor and expressed the worries of the administration about the Fon granting a press conference over a delicate issue which could disrupt the peace of the Region and which the administration is handling.

Was the administration right to ban the press conference organised by the Fon?

Freedom of the press, communication and expression is a Constitutional right in Cameroon and freedom of the press as guaranteed by the Constitution is exercised in accordance with the provisions of Law No. 90/52 of 19 December, 1990 as amended and supplemented by Law No. 99/11 of 20 July 1999. By banning the press conference organised by the Fon of Esu, the administration deprived him of his Constitutional rights.

What is the bone of contention between the Esu community and Alhadji Baba Ahmadou Danpullo?

From documents I have, Alhadji Baba Ahmadou Danpullo on July 2, 1986, addressed an application for agricultural and grazing land to the then traditional ruler of Esu, late Fon Joseph Meh Buh II. In his application, he specified the land requested to be from the “big bridge after Esu to Ewo”. The piece of land from the big bridge after Esu to Ewo was then occupied by one Ngwa of Bafut origin, who started the planting of soya beans there.

On July 17, 1987, the Esu traditional council addressed a letter to the then Senior Divisional Officer of Menchum, signed by the late Fon and three traditional council members with subject “Grant of land to the Elba Ranch”. The SDO was informed that land located at Woundele quarter, from Alhadji Waziri Kupa to the area near Alhadji Malo along Esu-Furu Awa road, had been allocated to Alhadji Baba Ahmadou Danpullo. A well-defined piece of land was therefore allocated to Alhadji Baba for the Elba Ranch project in Esu village in July, 1987, by the late Fon.

What happened Then?

When Alhadji Baba transferred some of his cattle from Ndawara to Esu village, the first person to be evicted was Mr. Ngwa, followed by his immediate neighbours Alhadji Waziri Kupa and Alhadji Malo.

On the October 10,1987, just three months after the traditional council of Esu wrote to the SDO of Menchum that they had allocated a well-defined piece of land to the Elba Ranch project, some Esu children addressed a petition to the Northwest Governor with subject; “Petition with regards to the allocation of land to Alhadji Baba”.

The 2nd paragraph of the petition reads thus: “We emphatically state that we are not against the arrival and settlement of Alhadji Baba in Esu, but against two points; (1) The way and manner he has acquired this land and (2) his abusive use and violation of the limits shown to him.”

Immediately the land was allocated to Alhadji, he embarked on an expansionist policy. Initially, the situation was not very bad as it is presently. When he transformed the Elba Ranch in Ndawara to a tea farm in violation of the terms of the grant he had over the land in Ndawara, he had to transfer more than 50,000 cattle from Ndawara to Esu and no jangali tax is paid to the council in Wum. Presently, Alhadji Baba occupies 75 percent of Esu land and the Esu population has nowhere to farm. The Esu population drinks water from streams.

The cattle in the Elba Ranch pollutes these streams and the dips where the cattle are disinfected are emptied into these streams, and after drinking polluted water, the population become sick on regular bases. There is a list of 135 family heads who have been evicted from their ancestral land with their wives, children and animals by Alhadji Baba who has no legal document to occupy land.

The Esu population does not want to evict him from Esu, but needs some of the land presently occupied by him for farming. The Esu population will only think of eviction when they cannot have some of the land back.

We learnt the matter is in court in Wum. Can you throw more light on that?

It is professionally wrong for me to comment on matters that are pending determination in court. However, suffice it to state here that Alhadji Baba instituted suit No WHC/13M/2014, in the High Court of Menchum in Wum and obtained an order in the absence of the Fon of Esu, the Esu Cultural and Development Association and the Esu Youths Development Association, who were respondents in the matter, restraining them from entering or interfering with the quiet enjoyment of Alhadji Baba’s land and property popularly known as Elba Ranch.

The court order further prohibited the respondents from carrying out all acts which may jeopardize the security and safety of the personnel and property of Elba Ranch. The court order stated that failure to comply with order 1 and 2 above will tantamount to contempt of court.

On the strength of the above expert ruling of the court, Alhadji Baba caused four Esu youths to be arrested and detained in Wum. I represented the Esu community and caused the orders of the court to be set aside and for the matter to be heard on notice.

I also instituted suit No WHC/5/2015 for the High court of Menchum to determine whether Alhadji Baba had ever been issued a Temporary Ground over land in Esu village with well-defined limits and in the absence of a grant, the court should rule that Alhadji Baba’s occupation of land in Esu is predicated on the allocation of a grazing land in Woundele quarter to him by the late traditional ruler of Esu, late Fon Buh II.

On the 12th day of October 2015, the High Court of Wum entertained the matter instituted by Alhadji Baba to restrain the Esu community from entering into his land in Esu and ruling was fixed for the 9th of November 2015. Since then, the ruling has been adjourned three times and would come up on January 27, 2016. The matter instituted by me has not been heard and it is also coming up on the same day.

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