Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Buea Court Grants Bail after Detained Scnc Activists, Lawyers Protest

Hundreds, including the 15 Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC activists, arrested almost two months ago and charged with illegal assembly, protested at the Buea Court of First Instance, South West Region, on August 30 2016.

The protests were sparked off outside the court premises when the judges made what was described by the defense counsels, led by Senior Bar Council member, Barrister Nkea Emmanuel, as attempts at delaying  justice.

People identified as family members of the suspected detainees,curious onlookers  and hundreds of activists who reportedly traveled from different parts Cameroon, West of the Mungo, to witness the trial, joined the protests.

With placards, some of which read “Freedom of Association,” Freedom of Speech,” security forces mounted heavy guard around the court premises, as close to 50 lawyers defended the activists.

The presiding Magistrate, heading a college of three, Mrs Beatrice Nambangi apparently viewing the mounting tension and pressure reportedly upheld the preliminary objection of the defense. She however  put the accused at the disposal of the legal department.

The lawyers argued that the suspects were charged under the old penal code which had been repealed on the 12 July 2016 ,when the new code was promulgated and was already in force. 

Though the State Prosecutor reportedly tried to impress on the Court with the argument that they were not yet in possession of the new code, the Learned Judge sent the accused to the legal department for them to be charged under the new penal code. Lawyers simply stated that it was not the role of the Court to send them back to the legal department as the Court was now acting like a party in the proceedings.

While the activists were reportedly almost threatening not to be taken back to jail, the lawyers put up stiff resistance at the State Counsel’s office, demanding that the matter be simply thrown out of court. One of the respected voices in the clamour for the Independence of Ambazonia (former UN Trust Territory of the British Southern Cameroons under the UK, ) veteran  politician, senior citizen and statesman,  Mola Njoh Litumbe, during the mounting tension was spotted, appealing for calm, confident in the lawyers.

The State Counsel  finally granted bail to all the 15 Southern Cameroons National Council , SCNC activists, and adjourned the matter to September 5, 2016.
According to Cheveing Scholar, Barrister Ajong Stanislus the case has no merit and would have supposed to be dismissed. “The court had ruled that the accused were charged under a non-extant law, the substance of the preliminary objection of the defense. It was simply logical for the matter to be dismissed,” he said.
To many observers present at the Buea Court of First Instance, this August 30 2016, the release of the activists was greatly due to the mobilization of Southern Cameroonians and activists. It is reported that more than 25 of the lawyers traveled from different parts of the country to join those of the South West, to defend the activists.
Additional reporting: Yannick Fonki, Guest Reporter.  Photo : Mark Bareta.

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