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Lawyers, SCNC Activists Unit To End Arbitrary Arrest Of Anglophones 

By Isidore Abah & Andrew Nsoseka

Lawyers after court session

Lawyers after court session

Scores of Common Law Lawyers from the Northwest and Southwest Regions and hundreds of activists of the Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, August 25, stormed the Buea Magistrate Court to end what they termed “the arbitrary arrest and detention of Anglophones in Cameroon.”

The lawyers in unison with the SCNC activists were in Buea to lend support to some 16 SCNC activists who were arrested on July 16 in Molyko-Buea.

The 16 activists were rounded up by security operatives, led by Superintendent of Police, Roger Nana Ngongang, for holding an unauthorised meeting and remanded in custody.

When the matter came up on August 25, the President of the Buea Magistrate Court, Justice Beatrice Ntuba Bea, was astounded by the number of lawyers and members of the public who turned up for the hearing.

Visibly stunned by the crowed, Justice Ntuba retorted, “today we have just a single item in court; those who have no business here should kindly walk out.”

A few lawyers heeded her plea, but the rest stood firm.

Taking the floor, the Defence Counsel for the accused, Barrister Emmanuel Nkea, argued that the accused were arrested and detained under Section 231(A) of the old Penal Code.

This, to him, was in gross violation of the principal of legality, given that, Section 231(A) of the old Penal Code has been repelled by Section 231(1) (A) of the new Penal Code, as such, does not exist.

Barrister Nkea bemoaned that the SCNC activists were being unlawfully detained under an article of the law that does not exist.

On his part, the Prosecuting Counsel said the accused were arrested at a time when the new Penal Code was still being promulgated into law. “It was very difficult for us to have copies of the New Penal Code.”

Such utterances from the Prosecuting Counsel on the availability of copies of the new Penal Code enraged some of the lawyers and SCNC activists who had flood the court room.

They booed and jeered at the Prosecuting Counsel and ordered him to sit down that his arguments were lame. But Justice Ntuba stepped in and ordered that her court room should not be transformed into a market place.

In response to the Prosecuting Counsel, the Defence Counsel said he was appalled by the utterances of his learned colleague.

According to him, the new Penal Code was promulgated on July 12, while the accused were arrested on July 16. Barrister Nkea further asserted that his colleague should have known better that a law takes effect when it has been promulgated and not when the copies are available.

He prayed the court to acquit the accused, since the Prosecuting Counsel has failed to present any substantial evidence against the accused.

“The proceedings of the court must be in accordance with the law. The accused should be granted bail based on their status. One of them is a Third Class Chief, another a 60- year-old blind man, who cannot be imprisoned even if found guilty.

After spending over 40 days and nights in detention, the accused should be released on bail based on the presumption of innocence,” he stated.

But the Prosecuting Counsel argued that the accused pose a danger to the society and should not be released on bail.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters after the hearing, Barrister Henry Kemende Gamsey, said their interest in defending the detained SCNC members is not driven by pecuniary interest, but by moral obligations.

“We are tired of seeing helpless Anglophones thrown into prison for little or no offences. We are resolute to put an end to this unlawful arrest and detention of Anglophones.”

Families Weep For Loved Ones

While the legal battle between the Defence and the Prosecuting Counsel was on-going inside the court room, helpless mothers, fathers and children were weeping for their loved ones outside the courtroom.

One of the women, whose son was arrested, told The Post that “my child left Kumba to visit his friend in Buea only for us to hear that he has been arrested. He was supposed to round-off with his exams at GTTTC Kumba the following day.”

Another woman who was wailing outside the court room said “my son, Serge Nforne, is everything to me. He is my husband and the man of the house. I am begging the Government to release him before I die of high blood.”

Another girl, whose father has been in detention since July 16, told these reporters that her father, who is suffering from kidney problem, has not taken his medication since his arrest over a month ago. She feared that her aging father may die in custody.

After Thursday’s hearing, Justice Ntuba and her panel will decide the fates of Shey Alfred Sembe, Fokum Andrew, Moto James, Njousi Abang David, Chief Ekane Ivoson Maths, Bissong Mathias Arrey, Tabot James Arrey, Tebot Titanji Christian, Mokube Alus Ngoe, Nke Valentine, Tonjoh Peter Fehbi, Asoh Cletus, Mbua Richard and Check Nyah and others on Tuesday, August 30.

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