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Was Sarah Etonge 

By Walter Wilson Nana
 
www.CameroonPostline.com — The Cameroon Athletics Federation, after many years of unmet promises, finally built a house for seven-time-winner of the Mount Cameroon Race, Sarah Liengu Etonge. 
 
However, the house seems to have been built on shifting grounds, as the Diocese of Buea lays claim to the land on which it has been built and wants Sarah Etonge, or the Federation, to show another piece of land elsewhere, for the Diocese to build a house for her. But the President of the Federation, Emmanuel Motomby Mbome, has said the Diocese cannot move Sarah Etonge from the house constructed for her in Molyko, Buea. 
 
The Athletics Federation championed the construction of a befitting house for the seven-time-winner of the Female Category of the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope, also known as Queen of the Mountain, Sarah Etonge, which was handed over to her last February. In recent weeks, a controversy has erupted with the authorities of the Buea Diocese saying the land belongs to the Diocese.
 
Reacting to statements made by the Chancellor of the Buea Diocese, Rev. Fr Bernard Asek Tambe, that the land on which the house has been built belongs to Buea Diocese, Motomby, in a telephone interview with this reporter on May 16 said; “The land was given to us for construction by the administration of the Southwest Region. They (Buea Diocese) cannot move Sarah Etonge from her house. When the Federation started the construction, where was the Diocese of Buea?” Motomby questioned, while turning down further inquiries from this reporter and putting off his phone. 
 
According to Fr. Asek, the authorities of Buea Diocese were not aware or informed of the construction, considering that the piece of land under controversy is near the Co-Cathedral site under construction by Buea Diocese. “We were not consulted. We only discovered when they reached the roof level. And, immediately, we launched a complaint to the Governor of the Southwest Region who replied saying he did not know the land belonged to Buea Diocese,” he said.
 
Fr. Asek explained the problem; “Seven years ago, Buea Diocese acquired the (controversial) land. We gave money worth FCFA 35 million to the Molyko community via the Chief and the notables. We needed five hectares of land. Since we paid part of it worth FCFA 35 million, we were supposed to give in more money at the end of the legal transaction.
 
While looking forward to get done with the legal transaction and look out for more money, the CDC came for a negotiation with us, saying they will continue to use the plot we are about to buy over from the Molyko community and they will grow their crops for the next three years. The three years elapsed but CDC did not leave the land and continued their agricultural activities for the next seven years.” Fr. Asek added that when CDC finally left, Buea Diocese did not know. 
 
“They abandoned the land without notifying us. It was during one of my visits with the Bishop of Buea to the Co-Cathedral site under construction that we saw the bananas poisoned and a notice posted which read ‘State land’. We were worried that how can our land be tagged ‘State land’. We immediately notified our lawyers, who forwarded some documents to the Governor of the Region to explain what we have seen on the ground and our own side of the story.”
 
Fr. Asek said the Governor did not convene a meeting at the time, indicating that he (the Governor) was preparing for the visit of President Paul Biya to Buea. The Chancellor said, after the visit of President Biya, the Governor convened a meeting. 
 
“I was happy with that meeting as the SDO of Fako, the Regional Security officials and many Regional Delegates answered present. It was resolved in the meeting and on a firm note from the Governor that, within two weeks, the Molyko community should give back the land due for Buea Diocese. So, the SDO and the DO were those charged to execute. Unfortunately, when the time came, nothing happened.” 
 
Fr. Asek said the Governor advised Buea Diocese to apply for a land certificate, “which I engaged the process and forwarded our documents to the DO of Buea and a decision was granted to us that our extra 2.5 hectares of land will be given to us when the pillars are planted. 
 
We were supposed to do that on Wednesday, May 14, but the Molyko traditional authorities did not come. The DO of Buea was there with the Land Consultative Commission but the Molyko traditional authorities boycotted and sent a letter indicating that the land in question has a land title promulgated by the State and it cannot be abrogated by any other document, since it has been published in the official Gazette. The land is theirs and it is not possible for us to get it or any other person.”
 
On who received the initial payment of FCFA 35 million from Buea Diocese, Fr. Asek responded; “Part of the money was paid to the late Chief of Molyko and the remainder to the current Chief. Suggestively, the money was used for the funeral and burial of the late Chief. Immediately after his burial, we finished the rest of the FCFA 35 million.”
 
Asked what the claim of Buea Diocese is, following the reaction from the traditional authorities of Molyko, Fr. Asek expressed disgust, remarking that Buea Diocese paid money for a particular piece of land and that same land has been given a land title without their consent. “That is where we see a problem. However, we look forward to a peaceful end.
 
We want to avoid an escalation of the issue. We are still friends with the traditional authorities of Molyko. We had a meeting with the DO of Buea on May 15 to forge a way forward. Another has been slated for Friday, May 23, 2014, to hopefully resolve the issues. The DO is doing his best to ensure that we have peace.”
 
Fr. Asek was upbeat that their land will be handed to them, indicating that there are options on what can be done. “We may relocate Sarah, get another land for her, if she wishes and build her another house or the house stays on the land and we co-exist,” he said.
 
Contacted for comment, Chief Esuka Etonge of Molyko turned down a recorded interview from this reporter but in an off-the-cuff discussion, said he does not see a problem between Buea Diocese and the Chiefdom of Molyko. Chief Esuka indicated that there is need for Buea Diocese and the Molyko community to have a dialogue on the issue and sue for a peaceful resolution.
 
The DO of Buea, Paul Wokam Kouam, said they are handling the matter, while encouraging the Molyko community and Buea Diocese to be peaceful, show a lot of understanding and go for alternative proposals on the land issue. Sarah Etonge expressed surprise with the reaction from Buea Diocese, observing that the bulldozing and construction of the house took about a month.
 
“Time which Buea Diocese would have taken note of and made their claims as early as possible. However, I have no personal problem with Buea Diocese. I have no problem with the Government. They (Government) put me into the house. I wish to stay where I am and not in any complicated area or any other house to be constructed for me,” she added. 

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