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Njoh Litumbe In Land Wrangle 

By Isidore Abah
 
www.CameroonPostline.com A 2000-square-meter piece of land at Upper Bonduma, Buea, Southwest Region, has been a bone of contention between one of Southern Cameroon National Council, SCNC, secession proponents, Mola Njoh Litumbe, and his Bakweri kith, Martin Molombe Ekeka.
 
The piece of land has for the past seven years put the two Bakweri elites on a war path. The disputed piece of land, according to findings, was initially owned by Joseph Lyonga Ngomba Molombe, father of Martin Molombe Ekeka, and was leased out to a white expatriate, Herman Andre Schoofs, in 1975.
 
According to Molombe Ekeka, Andre Schoofs, one time Manager of Mountain Hotel Buea, rented the piece of land from his father for the cultivation of flowers, which he exported. The expatriate paid an annual rent of FCFA 100,000.
 
However, in 1992, Schoofs became very sick and was unable to pay his rent. In a letter dated September 16, 1994, which Schoofs wrote to Joseph Molombe, the white tenant informed his landlord that he was sick and had to travel to Paris to seek medical attention, but promised to raise some money and send it via his son, Robert Schoofs, to pay his two years’ accumulated rent. But this never happened. 
 
On January 18, 1995, Joseph Molombe wrote to Schoofs, acknowledging receipt of his letter, but stated that he (Joseph Molombe) had discovered that due to Schoof’s ill health; he could no longer meet up with his rental obligations. As such, Joseph Molombe suggested that by August 17, 1995, if Schoofs failed to pay his rent, which would have accrued to FCFA 300,000, their legal contract would be terminated. Then, on July 30, 1995, Joseph Molombe received news of the death of Herman Andre Schoofs from a certain Jeremiah.
 
The Litumbe-Molombe Tug Of War
 
Meantime, after the death of Schoofs, George Njie Litumbe, the elder brother of Mola Njoh Litumbe, who had been working with Schoofs for years, was allowed to take over Schoofs’ flower garden and catered for the flowers which were due harvesting in a few months. 
 
According to Martin Molombe, it was envisaged that after the junior Litumbe would have harvested the flowers, he would vacate the land or pay the accumulated rent owed by Schoofs and subsequently honour the terms of the contract which his father had signed with Schoofs in 1975, if he intended to continue working on the land. This; however, was not the case, as George Litumbe refused to either pay the accrued rents or relinquish the land.
 
Enraged by George Litumbe’s indifference, Martin Molombe wrote a complaint to the then Divisional Officer, DO, of Buea, Yves Bertrand Awungfack, accusing George Litumbe of illegal occupation. The complaint was, nonetheless, countered by Mola Njoh Litumbe, brother of George Litumbe, on grounds that he was the rightful owner of the land, not his brother.
 
Speaking to the Post recently, Njoh Litumbe, said, “When Schoofs was about to leave Cameroon because of his old age, he pleaded with me to buy over the piece of land which he had acquired from Joseph Molombe in 1975. I met my friend Joseph Molombe and asked him if it was alright for me to buy the land from the Whiteman and he consented. I bought the land for FCFA 2 million with other services worth FCFA 300,000. He (Joseph Molombe) even signed as a witness in the sales deed between Schoofs and I, and the deed was endorsed by Chief Managa of Bonduma.”
 
Entrapped in what was fast becoming a land dispute, the DO of Buea in circular No: 071/G37/40/D9/2/123/, forwarded Martin Molombe’s complaint to the Great Soppo Traditional Council to look into it, while an injunction order was placed on the land. The Council summoned both parties on Tuesday, September 18, 2007, to come along with relevant documents in order to look for a lasting solution to the problem.
 
But according to the Council’s report, none of the Litumbes honoured the summons. The matter was adjourned to a later date. However, after a series of adjournments, the Council went ahead and carried out its investigations and presented its findings in a confidential report dated October 30, 2007. 
 
In its report, the Council cautioned the DO to be cautious in the dispatch of his functions, and the kind of documents which were presented to him, because, according to the Council, before the death of Schoofs, he was a tenant and not the owner of the land.
 
It is alleged that after the Council’s findings, the DO lifted the injunction order on August 27, 2008, sent his aide to plant pillars on the land and ordered a tenant, Penano Kouo Nzoko Aicha, who had acquired a plot on the disputed land to proceed with her work, and advised Martin Molombe to procure a land title and charging Njoh Litumbe with forgery in the process.
 
Meanwhile, Martin Molombe filed a complaint through the Sate Counsel, accusing Mola Njoh Litumbe of forgery in case file No. 0564/DPSN/SWP/CCB/101 of 14 August, 2008 and CR No: 043/2008 was established but till date, the case is pending.
 
‘Injunction Not Lifted’
 
For his part, Njoh Litumbe, said the injunction order placed by the DO was never lifted and that Martin Molombe defied the injunction and commanded some of his tenants to start working on the disputed land, which was still under the DO’s injunction. According to Njoh Litumbe, when the DO realised that Martin Molombe had defied the injunction order, he (the DO) wrote to the State Counsel requesting that Martin Molombe should be arrested for violating administrative injunction.
 
“It was at this point that I came in and requested the State Counsel to issue an interim injunction again, prohibiting Martin Molombe from entering my land until the matter has been settled by the Land Consultative Board,” Mola Njoh said. “When Martin Molombe violated the DO [order], and the Sate Counsel’s injunctions and went ahead selling the land to some individuals, I then went to court and charged him with trespass and violation of administrative and State Counsel injunctions; that is why he is being prosecuted today,” Mola Njoh added.
 
Martin Molombe Decries Ill-treatment 
 
Meantime, Martin Molombe has decried what he termed the ill-treatment meted him by the presiding Magistrate of the case, Patience Tanyi Bessem. 
 
According to Martin Molombe, he was the first to file a complaint against Njoh Litumbe for forgery, but the hearing of the case is still pending, while Njoh Litumbe’s case for trespassing in Court II and now violation of administrative and State Counsel’s injunctions filed against him in Court III respectively are all ongoing, despite filing these cases after him.
 
Martin Molombe equally decried the State Counsel’s injunction which, he said, was ordered by Magistrate Tanyi Bessem without having been to the land (locus in quo) in question. “How can an injunction be placed on a land with two tenants already living there; where will they go to? And now they are being charged with me for violation of injunction; this is twisting the law to favour the rich,” Molombe bemoaned.
 
According to Molombe, Magistrate Tanyi Bessem ordered for a locus fee to be paid before she could go out to inspect the disputed land, but after FCFA 100,000 was paid by both parties, she has made three promises to visit the disputed land but has never done so till date. 
 
Molombe said he is also pleading for the Magistrate to hand over the original copy of his land certificate which was tendered in evidence in court and was later confiscated by her.  According to Molombe, this is the only document which can effectively back his claim of ownership of the land.
 
Holes In Litumbe’s Land Documents
 
According to Martin Molombe, the documents which Mola Njoh Litumbe is brandishing in court are all forged. He said his father’s signature on the so-called sales deed between Schoofs and Litumbe was forged, that Chief Managa whom Litumbe claims endorsed the sales deed has never existed in Bonduma and that the lawyer who drew up the sales deed has never existed in the history of the Cameroon Bar.
 
Njoh Litumbe, on the other hand, said Martin Molombe is just wasting his time, because when the sales deed and other transactions pertaining to the land were made, he( Molombe) was still in the North Region, working with the army and he has thus returned to claim properties that were already sold. The parties are hoping that justice will take it course.

 

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