Innocent Chia, MoRISC & Southern Cameroons Restoration Struggle – By Agbor Martin Ayuk

Innocent Chia wrote asking questions about the operations of SCACUF and highlighting his disappointment with certain processes. Less than 24 hours later. Agbor Martin Ayuk has presented a rebuttal which answers some of the questions raised.

I am just presenting the different opinions raised but must stress that they do not represent my views.

Enjoy your reading!

Answers

We have all had the opportunity of reading a diatribe unleashed by Chia Innocent of MoRISC on the Southern Cameroons Ambazonai Consortium United Front, (SCACUF). He made very serious allegations about the law firm which has been retained to commence legal action (one of the means freedom fighters are employing) that could in the end take us to Buea. Chia also points out a lot of weaknesses he considers would make SCACUF ineffective in securing our most wished-for restoration of statehood, ranging from untalented and devoted leadership to reluctance to put in place an interim government.

The first observation I would like to make here is that curiously enough, MoRISC is a member organization of SCACUF, an indication that the rantings Chia has brought to the market place would well have been addressed internally and spared us the trouble of public quarreling. To make matters worse, my research revealed that the Spokesman of SCACUF is no other person than the strongman of MoRISC, meaning he had the duty to educate his members on the prevailing situation in the organization. This is a worrisome situation and it simply indicates that the old demons of division, power mongering, division and treachery are back in the house just when the government in Yaounde is getting rattled.

MoRISC as an Opportunistic Organization

The Movement for the Restoration of Southern Cameroons was born out of the current struggle triggered by Common Law Lawyers and Teachers’ Unions in Cameroon in 2016. Prior to this current phase of Southern Cameroons Nationalism, nothing existed as MoRISC. The initiative to create the organization was seen as laudable especially as the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium that brought together the various unions under one umbrella was mainly home-based and was a showcase of unity which is strength. However, ever since the advent of MoRISC there has rather been a lot of controversy than harmony as the outfit has been fighting every other organization involved in the struggle, sabotaging initiatives here and there if those moves were not initiated by it. The Publisher/Editor of the Cameroon Journal has on several occasions presented this divisive and deviant attitude of MoRISC as working to bring down all other organizations by the use of conspiracy theories as a measure of promoting its agenda.

MoRISC from inception was presented as a movement- an umbrella organization meant to bring together all other organizations involved in the restoration of the independence of Southern Cameroons. Today, MoRISC is no longer an umbrella organization and its Spokesman, Boh Herbert says the body is no longer a movement but a facilitator, working to raise resources from Southern Cameroonians to ease the work and activities of other organizations seeking the restoration of our statehood. This means the initial intention of MoRISC has been hijacked to a new role; a role which appears invisible and unclear given that none of the existing structures operating in the field like the SCNC, SCYL, AGC, SCAPO or the Consortium have reported that they ever received any facilitating funds from Boh Herbert and his team. Today, we learn of yet another mutation of MoRISC into a Secretariat to assist in ensuring that the key players attain their objective of taking us home to Buea.

This perspective of things tells us without any doubts, therefore, that MoRISC is not supposed to have an agenda of its own if it is mainly out to play the facilitator. By insisting that it has a roadmap developed and which it is following, a roadmap that must end with the “election” of a Prime Minister and the putting in place of a government means the facilitator is inadvertently supplanting the actors. Isn’t it necessary for MoRISC to put an end to this scam on its members and followers and unveil its personal agenda for all to see? Such a thing can be done without necessarily running down other organizations and trying to discourage people from supporting other initiatives only because they were not put forth by MoRISC, especially the current struggle was initiated and fueled by those structures being insulted when MoRISC was yet to be born. It may be important for Chia to note that the Consortium was and is still a conglomerate of organizations that believed in unity and that is why we are here; if it were not for ulterior motives, it would have made more sense for the initiators of MoRISC to have constituted themselves as an arm of the Consortium, the SCNC, SCAPO, Ambazonia, SCYL or AGC depending on their vision to advance the common cause, reason we are now confronted with the fact that the purpose of the outfit was to come up and form a government to take over a revolution they hardly ignited.

The Case for an Interim Government

One of the issues that have so annoyed Chia is the delay in forming an interim government as enshrined in the roadmap of MoRISC and endorsed by SCACUF for the month of May, 2017. The month is hardly half way gone and trouble has started, whereas everything could jolly well still be possible. But, most importantly, Chia does not tell anyone that at the second Conclave of front line leaders in Nigeria, the idea of picking a Prime Minister and eventually a government was admitted with preconditions; to secure at least certain concessions from some authorities on the diplomatic front before proceeding with the idea, to ensure the new interim government does not suffer the fate of previous ones hurriedly put in place. That means this would not be the first time Southern Cameroons would be putting in place an interim government and it should of course be the last time because we must now go all the way by correcting the errors of the past. So, rather than working hard to meet the preconditions agreed upon mutually in Nigeria (and MoRISC did agree to them), Chia and his friends have resorted to pouring unfounded insults on the SCACUF Secretariat and Mr. Tassang Wilfred who is the Secretary General. This lowly attempt to put a spanner in the wheel of the struggle is reminiscent of others before Chia who always felt it made more sense to create disorder in order to benefit from it.

Landmark Achievement by SCACUF

It is easy to observe that within a short period of time, the United Front has secured some visible gains for the struggle; the advent of SCBC and the signing of Foley Hoag (even if it sounds to some people as a scam) and most importantly the putting in place a robust organizational setup to guarantee renewed in intensity in the resistance on the ground. The month of May is too significant for our struggle as it the month in which stronger stronger chains were bound around our feet and hands. It would be unwise for us not to concentrate on defeating government by ensuring a biting boycott of 20th May and shattering plans to force pupils and students who have not been going to school to take end of year examinations, and rather go fighting over a thing like an interim government that needs to be well planned.

The time to go all the way is now and the only language we should hear from today has got to be constructive criticism, not the kind of criticism that ends with attacking the personalities of people. MoRISC has thousands of dollars collected from Southern Cameroonians in its accounts, it should release that money to facilitate the struggle as Boh Herbert has himself pointed out.

Agbor Martin Ayuk
PhD

My Opposition To The Foley Hoag Law Firm Retainer By Innocent Chia

 

I have come across several questions regarding the lawsuit being brought by SCACUF against the Cameroon government. I sincerely pray and hope it is a success. However, several questions have been raised about its feasibility and the manner in which the firm was recruited, and the seemingly large fee that has to be paid.

While I have refrained from raising my personal concerns in public, coming across this piece from Innocent Chia has given me reason to think it is good if SCACUF can present a clarification or a rebuttal to this. It does not inspire confidence and the sooner open clarifications are made, the better for this struggle.

Please read with an open mind and make your own conclusions and if you have any rebuttals, feel free to present them.

When the dust settles on the retainer agreement that was signed yesterday – 5/7/14 between the Foley Hoag LLP Law Firm and SCACUF (Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front), represented at the signing in Boston, MA by the Southern Cameroons Public Affairs Committee (SCAPAC), I hope to my God that there is nothing to write home about regarding my misgivings vis-à-vis the agreement and the manner in which it went down. It is important, nonetheless, that I speak my mind as a matter of public record because there is a cautionary tale to what many perceive as a giant landmark in our collective march towards the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons.

Lawyers For Eritrean Liberation Give Counsel

Sometime between November and December 2016, I started hearing rumors of a Law Firm that was interested in representing Southern Cameroons amidst the heightened, rampant and systematic torture, rape, killings, abductions, disappearances and other dehumanizing acts against our brothers, sisters, children and parents by the paramilitary forces of La Republique du Cameroun. It was not long thereafter that I was fortunate enough to talk with a concerned group that had been researching the option and stumbled upon a couple of the lawyers who represented Eritrea in its protracted fight against annexation by Ethiopia. What these lawyers for Eritrea shared is not only instructive for decisions and choices that have since been made, culminating in the retainer that was signed yesterday but also very instructive of the challenges that we face if we do not detach and rid ourselves of some emotionally charged decision-making processes and those who not only embody but promote the processes and decisions.When asked to take the case for Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons Versus La Republique du Cameroun, the guys who litigated and won a similar case of Eritrea Versus Ethiopia, had responded that although a clearly WINNABLE case, they would not take it because they did not have the political connections in the current white house to go the distance.

Meaning: if you have to sign up with a law firm that will represent you in this matter, make sure they have the goodwill of this Whitehouse to show.
Translation: if Trump and his surrogates don’t have an African policy that favors intervention on the continent, it is a waste of time and your hard earned dollars because you need their backing in whatever court you drag La Republique to. You need their backing to make sure La Republique implement the verdict of whatever court, otherwise it will be another decision, just like that of the AU, that La Republique kicks like a can down the highway.

These same lawyers who won the case for Eritrea against Ethiopia further cautioned that whatever firm eventually offers to take up our case should not do so for the money. We need to be sure that they are doing it because they love the journey, they love and believe in the cause as much as we do and are passionate about the cause. A measure of that love, passion and believe means being willing to do it for free, they said.They then narrated how they had taken the case of Eritrea and worked on it pro bono (without pay) for a very long time. They had been burning with and fueled by the desire to right the injustice that had been perpetrated by Ethiopia on Eritrea. It is after they had done this free work for quite a while that the Eritrean community came together and insisted on compensating them in acknowledgment of all the hard work that the Firm had been doing on behalf of the people of Eritrea.

Meaning: Whoever is taking our WINNABLE case has to do it because of the love of justice, because they share in our affliction, and want to bring an end to our predicament.

As stated at the top, I can reliably state that when the idea of this lawsuit was but a rumor, many people who were in the know expressed varying concerns about it. There was consensus, even in the opposing voices, for those involved to continue looking for other firms or clinics that would provide competing quotes and then a decision be made. We cannot deny that it is in our blood as Ambazonians to look around for or “beat prices” for the best bargain. Is it not? We de beat even price for okrika shoes for market. We de beat price for store even when the price be marked on the item.

Manipulation, lack of Transparency or Due Diligence

So, why did we not talk with other law firms or put out a proposal for bids from other firms? We know that some small law firms, even some big ones, make their names by taking and championing causes like these. In fact, this is exactly what Ben Muna is doing in Cameroon with Agbor Balla, Neba Fontem, Mancho Bibixi and the other Southern Cameroonians who have been abducted, imprisoned and are getting judged in a foreign land by the colonial La Republique du Cameroun. His services, and those of the hundreds of lawyers that are working with him are free of charge. Was there no such firm, clinic, or school in the diaspora that could be interested in taking up what the lawyers that defended Eritrea against Ethiopia have called a “clear case”? I will tell you that those who have been pushing the idea of Foley Hoag as “the” only firm to represent us left no stone unturned in making sure that we had the outcome that materialized yesterday. Under the aegis of a certain Dr. Tata and Barrister George Awazi (one-time campaign manager for Muna to the Presidency of the Bar Association of Cameroon), each time the idea was rejected by one group, they took it with the next group and sold Foley Hoag LLP. Indeed, reliable sources allege that at one point they put in $5,000 of their own money into the SCAPAC account to sustain the effort. An investment?

Lurking around from one group to another, and with intensity in the struggle growing, the retainer fee grew from $20,000.00 to $25,000.00. By the time SCACUF and Wilfred Tassang came on board and endorsed it, the price tag had skyrocketed to a down payment of $35,000.00 and a minimum of $70,000 to be held in the account at any given time. You may recall that even when MoRISC endorsed SCACUF, it expressed reservations on two matters: The first was that it was not consenting in any way, shape or form, to any lawsuit representation by Foley Hoag, until it had been appropriately reviewed and approved by the MoRISC legal team. (The second reservation was that it would not endorse any group that preached or embraced violence as part of the struggle).
Be that as it may, the retainer terms of reference are open ended as to how much time or how many hours Foley Hoag LLP are projecting to bill for and what it will show as achievements along the way.

Retainer Fee or Vulture Fund

Remember, there’s no way of ever verifying how many hours a lawyer has actually spent “working” on your case. It is a very subjective process where they absolutely control every facet of the billing. They only tell you that they are billing for X number of hours. And that is where the rubber really hits the road in this matter as I see it. This is where I consider the 56th African nation-to-be as having been dealt the the short end of the stick in a 419 scam where we are already mortgaging the future of our unborn kids with an unnecessary and avoidable debt. Let us use numbers to examine how much of a raw deal we are into, and then we can determine whether we are into another “Hewitt is too late” situation or whether we can and should sever this umbilical cord before it chokes and kills the child. Here are the hourly rates for the average and above law firms:

Senior Partner – $1,000.00 per hour
Junior Partner – $750.00 per hour
Senior Associate – $500.00 per hour
Midlevel Associate – $400.00 per hour
Junior Associate – $250.00 per hour
Paralegal – $100.00 per hour

Each one of these legal professionals have very distinct roles to play in this process and journey – from research to secretariat functions, to cross checking of facts, to submitting the file where necessary, to making the case against La République du Cameroun. So what would happen if each one of them worked on this case only one (1) hour a week? Here is the math:

$1000 + $750 + $500 + $400 + $250 + $100 × 1hr = $3,000.00

What if they had to each work 3 hrs on the case? Well, we would simply multiply $3,000.00 × 3 hrs = $9,000.00 for each one of these professionals to work on our case for three hours on any given day. So, how long would it take for $35,000.00 to be depleted? Well, based on all six professionals working/billing for three 3 hours of work every day, here is the breakdown:

$1000 + $750 + $500 + $400 + $250 + $100 × 3 hrs × 4 days = $36,000.00

Yes, people, for 18 hours of work, less than half of a US working week, SCACUF / SCAPAC are committing Southern Cameroons to $36,000,000 (18,000,000.00 AMB money?) even before blinking their eyes. And there is no telling that even after a week of work this firm would have anything or be anywhere close to taking the case to any court of law. Yet, someone is on the hook to be replenishing that account so that there is a minimum of $70,000 in it at every given moment!

For the record, can we tell how much time it has taken SCACUF / SCAPAC to raise the $35,000.00 that it signed away yesterday to Foley Hoag? It wasn’t a week. It has taken more than two months to raise the said sum of money. Which begs the next set of questions.

If Southern Cameroonians are able to cough up this money day in and day out, is this the most judicious, the most efficient use of their hard earned money with a certain outcome of victory? Were there less expensive options with the same guaranteed outcome? If so, did we check them out and why did we not go with them? Finally, why are we stuck, or are we indeed stuck, with this particular law firm? It is an open secret that MoRISC opposed this deal all the way. Still, it reached out to SCACUF when it was confirmed that SCACUF was intractable in embracing the Law firm to represent the people’s case against La Republique du Cameroun. Among other things, MoRISC, even as recently as at the second conclave in Nigeria, proposed to have its US based legal team, go and review the retainer agreement before any decision was finally made. This was only after SCAPAC walked back on earlier statements that the agreement had already been signed and all that was left was the disbursement of the money for Foley Hoag to commence the process. When they walked back on that lie, SCAPAC loosely committed to the idea of having a team comprising of Professor Carlson Anyangwe and the renown Barrister Charles Taku review the documents. Almost two weeks after the second conclave, Wilfred Tassang revealed on air in an interview with SCTV that SCACUF was expediting Professor Carlson Anyangwe from South Africa to the United States to review and sign the retainer agreement. The suggestions of the MoRISC legal team, which had been considered only after serious stonewalling, to review the retainer draft agreement were tossed aside.

The team had complained, among other things, about the deliverables and the bottomless pit nature of an account. They had also pointed out the lack of SCACUF oversight of the SCAPAC account, absence of a clear distinction as to which of the two entities was in control. Who would manage the account, issue checks, countersign checks? Were checks to be t jointly signed by SCACUF and SCAPAC? How about the money that Southern Cameroonians were donating for other causes besides the lawsuit? How would they ascertain that the money was indeed being disbursed per the provisions of the retainer agreement? Equally of great interest, are the questions spiraling around Dr. Tata and Barrister George Awazi? Are they getting any kickbacks for pushing this law firm arrangement through as much as they have done? If they are getting kickbacks, how much are they making? Is there anything wrong with them making a quick buck at the expense of the martyrs and people of Southern Cameroons? Remember the $5000 that they allegedly put into the SCAPAC account? Was it to be repaid? How much interest are they making on it? Is it tax deductible?

We may not have time here to delve into matters regarding the jurisdiction where the human rights violations case might be brought against La Republique du Cameroun. But if it is filed in Cameroun, it most certainly will mean that Foley Hoag will be entering into a partnership agreement with a local firm. Given the ties between Barrister George Awazi and the Muna family, there is every indication that the Muna Law Secretariat will be tapped to handle “secretarial duties” given that Barrister Muna is already volunteering his pro bono services to the political prisoners of Southern Cameroons in La Republique du Cameroun. How much will that bill be? I can project that the light bill will be CFA 500,000; the water bill will be CFA 250,000; the salary for the secretary will be CFA 750,000…then miscellaneous will be a whopping CFA 2,000,000M frs. In the meantime, Wilfred Tassang, now enjoying an undisclosed salary in Nigeria as SCACUF Secretary General, is challenging the diaspora to pour money into a bottomless pit, allegedly controlled by his confidante, while his colleagues wallow in misery in Cameroon. The diaspora has to be steadfast and remain very vigilant or the worst of con men, some dressed in cloaks and getting called Prophets, others with PhDs, Professors, Lawyers…all wearing beautiful suits, dresses and handbags dash away into the night with our fight for the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons.

In Conclusion…

We have come too far to be conned by anyone that is not ready to answer serious questions and be held accountable. At the signing of the retainer yesterday in Boston, oddly on a Sabbath day, one could not escape the rookie mistake of the lady who issued the check – while the numerical value said $35,000.00, she wrote it out for “thirty-five 00/100” dollars. It certainly can be corrected, but it does not bode well for the quality of people that are representing us at SCACUF / SCAPAC. We have been blaming Foncha and Muna for dragging us into the doodoo, but it seems as if we could be regrettably poised for a repeat of the mistakes of the past by investing our emotions and not our brains into this fight.

It is one more reason why we need to fight against any forces that are stonewalling the logical step of an Interim Government in Exile that the roadmap, birthed by MoRISC and adopted by SCACUF, calls for. It is strange that SCACUF has recently pulled down the roadmap page from the website. It may be reasonable to wonder whether it is a clear indication of an intention to derail the restoration agenda. The reasons keep on piling why we need a qualified, visionary leader. We must continue to source for our Moses, possibly one who is voted into office by universal suffrage and with a clear mandate and resources to carry out the task at hand. This fight needs a leader, not charlatans or position fillers with some scars to show, that will understand the fierce urgency not now towards the countdown to the restoration of our independence

The Strike Continues: I WON’T GO TO COURT ON TUESDAY 02.05.2017!!! (By ShuSheey Barrister AKUWIYADZE)

 

The President of the Cameroon Bar Council recently announced that Common Law Lawyers will be returning to court, signalling an end to the strike action that has paralysed the legal, educational and other sub-systems of West Cameroon.

During the period of the strike action, rather than make efforts to grant the demands of the striking civil society, the recalcitrant government of Cameroon resorted to intimidation.

Arbitrary arrests, rape, torture, shutdown or the internet amongs other human rights violations.

With none of the demands of the strikers granted, it is nothing but shocking that the Bar Council President should announce a return to the courts.

Following is a response from one of the Barrister’s and it is fair to say, after listening to other views on Afrique Media today, that his position represents that of the majority.

I won’t go to court on the 02.05.2017.

Lawyers in West Cameroon have lost income for six months and their families are suffering. Were they sacrificing for the usual promises?
No, Mr. President of the Cameroon Bar Council, I won’t go to court on the 02.05.2017.

Consortium Leaders are in jail, some on self-exile, while their families are suffering in Cameroon. Did they ask for promises?
No, Mr. President of Cameroon Bar Council, I won’t go to court on the 02.05.2017.

Over 100 West Cameroonians, arbitrarily arrested and incarcerated in East Cameroon are suffering in jails for months. Is that why they are paying this price?
No, Mr. President of the Cameroon Bar Council, I won’t go to court on the 02.05.2017.

Some of our children have been killed and their families are still in pain. Did they die for promises?
No, Mr. President of the Cameroon Bar Council, I won’t go to court on the 02.05.2017.

Our children have sacrificed a whole academic year; parents have lost school fees paid; teachers in private schools are without salary for 5 months now. Is that what they sacrificed (and are still sacrificing) for?
No, Mr. President of the Cameroon Bar Council, I won’t go to court on the 02.05.2017.

Business people in West Cameroon have lost income from sales by adhering to Ghost Towns. Some have seen their fortune go up in flames! What have they got in return?
No, Mr. President of the Cameroon Bar Council, I won’t go to court on the 02.05.2017.

My colleagues are in jail while others have been forced to go on exile for daring to stand for the TRUTH! Are Lawyers not the watchdogs (whistle-blowers) of society?
No, Mr. President of the Cameroon Bar Council, I won’t go to court on the 02.05.2017.
How can I go to court in a country where a Superscale Magistrate in active Service at the Supreme Court (Ayah Paul Abine) is arrested and incarcerated with impunity ~ without due process?
No, Mr. President of the Cameroon Bar Council, I won’t go to court on the 02.05.2017.

How can I go to court when an Honorable Member of Parliament (Joseph Wirba) who did nothing more than his duty as a true Representative of the people (and not a hand-clapper) has been forced out of his country for telling the TRUTH?
No, Mr. President of the Cameroon Bar Council, I won’t go to court on the 02.05.2017.

West Cameroonians have suffered more than enough in this Triangle since 1961 as their heritage has been completely wiped out!
Where is Cameroon Bank?
Where is NPMB?
Where is WADA?
Where is PWD?
Where is Yoke Power Station?
Where is Santa Coffee Estate?
Where are our much-cherished Institutions? Health? Education? Justice? Law and Order? Etc, etc?
No, Mr. President of the Cameroon Bar Council, you are not an Anglophone and I won’t go to court on the 02.05.2017.

If I should go to court on the 02.05.2017 or thereafter:

1. ALL our brothers and sisters arrested as a result of the strike action that we (Common Law Lawyers) started on the 11.10.2016 must be UNCONDITIONALLY RELEASED (with guarantees that there won’t be any further arbitrary arrests).

2. Internet Connection cut off from West Cameroon on 18.01.2017 must be re-instated.

3. The towns and villages of West Cameroon flooded with soldiers, must be de-militarized.

When the above pre-conditions would have been met, the dialogue will resume so that the problem of marginalization of Anglophones in Cameroon is dealt with once and for all. The time is Now!

Is this a poem?
No, Mr. President of the Cameroon Bar Council, I won’t go to court on the 02.05.2017 or any date thereafter as I’m ready to boycott the courts for two years (renewable) until JUSTICE is done and seen to have been done to us.

ShuSheey AKUWIYADZE,
(Barrister-At-Law)
Kumbo.
West Cameroon

Response to Akoson: RE: Breaking News: The UN Sends Away Biya’s Men! My sources at the Ministry of External Relations just hinted me

Response to Akoson:   RE: Breaking News: The UN Sends Away Biya’s Men! My sources at the Ministry of External Relations just hinted me

Dear Akoson,

A lot is circulating on social media, purportedly written and signed by you. While we appreciate your efforts in using your resources to provide news updates to the people of West Cameroon on the current crisis, we also wish to call your attention to some issues raised in one of your write-ups.

In your recent write-up titled “Breaking News: The UN Sends Away Biya’s Men! My sources at the Ministry of External Relations just hinted me”, you made a number of unsubstantiated statements. I will attempt to clarify some.

First, the only “Treaty of Union” that exists is the treaty signed in 1707 by England/Wales and Scotland leading to the formation of the United Kingdom. There is no such thing within the United Nations Charter. With the UN what is needed is a ratification of agreements between nations by the General Assembly.

Secondly, it is very inconsistent that Biya who has been preaching his dogma of ‘one and indivisble Cameroon’ will all of a sudden send a delegation to the UN to ask for a nonexistent ‘treaty of Union’ whatever that is.

The ratification of the plebiscite results in April 1961 and the acceptance of the 1961 Constitution by both Southern Cameroons (West Cameroon) and La Republique Du Cameroon (East Cameroon), legalised that Union between the two. No one challenged the 1961 Federal Constitution, and both parties adhered to it until it was changed in 1972. That in itself indicates that both parties were happy with it at the time.

Although there is the argument that the Foumban Conference was inconclusive, thereby implying that there was no binding treaty between the two States, this in itself does not negate the Will of the people who voted on February 11, 1961. As there were no issues raised about irregularities during the vote, and no legal challenge was brought up, that vote was the democratic will of the people of Southern Cameroons at the time.

The only democratic process that can change the results of that Plebiscite vote has to be another general vote. A referendum for the people of the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, is therefore the one democratic means through which the vote of 11 February 1961 can be challenged.

We cannot make any progress if we keep lying to ourselves and hope that these lies will one day liberate us.

Anglophone Crisis Spillover: Yaoundé Under Siege from Protesting Teachers

Yaoundé: 27th March 2017

Every social problem is like malignant cancer! If not solved in time, it only spreads, it never goes away. That is the same with the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon which has emboldened teachers in Yaoundé to stage a protest march, starting at the Ministry of Finance.

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Many of the teachers are demanding to be paid wages they are owed for over 60 months.

Their placards carry messages such as “NO PAY! NO SCHOOL!; “WE WANT TO GET PAID NOW“; “RESPECT US“; “PAY OUR SALARIES“, among others.

Some of the organisers have confirmed that their hope is for all schools to be shut down across Cameroon until the deplorable educational conditions are addressed.

When asked if they considered it an extension of the Anglophone crisis, one of the protesters explained

“we cannot pretend our problem is as bad as the Anglophone crisis, but we have been inspired by their resilience. It is our way of showing solidarity, while at the same time expressing our grievances”.

This view is apt given that for many decades Anglophones have been suppressed, dehumanised and treated like second-class citizens in their own country. Over the last five months, the situation escalated when Lawyers and Teachers started protesting against the injustices suffered by English-Speaking Cameroonians.

The government of Cameroon responded with brutal military crackdown and arbitrary arrests and detention. Many lives were lost and property destroyed. The Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, with which the government was hitherto negotiating, was suddenly banned, some of its leaders were arrested and are facing treason charges in a military court.

Many people have been expressing some optimism on social media following the action in Yaoundé. Some have boldly asserted that this has taken the Anglophone struggle into the lion’s den. Others have been calling on all factions of civil society across Cameroon to rise up and put an end to Biya’s 35 years of economic stagnation and widespread deprivation.

Some have been critical, asking why it is that there is no major crackdown by the security forces as was the case with the English-speaking teachers and lawyers. In response to this, it has been highlighted by others that this is just another indication that Anglophones are treated less favourably by the Biya regime.

IMG-20170327-WA0024
Collage Credit: Capo Camer

Whatever the situation, this is a rallying call to all Cameroonians to realise that this is the time to end the rot that has eaten into the fabrics of society. It is a call on all to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Cameroon’s president is reported to have gone to Geneva after his visit to Italy and the Vatican, should this unrest continue, it is projected that he will be unlikely to enjoy his much craved time in what has been known to be his actual country. Activists from across Europe are already mobilising to go to Geneva and chase Biya back to Cameroon.

Pope Francis Tells Paul Biya that Suppression of Freedom & Abuse of Human Rights is a ‘Path to Peace’

What would Jesus Do? This is the question that many have asked and keep asking in many different situations.

Yes What would Jesus do if he were to meet with Paul Biya, the Dictator who has clung to power in Cameroon for 35 years?

What would Jesus do if he were to meet with Paul Biya, at a time when millions of English-Speaking Cameroonians have been without the internet for 65 days and counting?

What would Jesus do if he were to have a one-to-one discussion with Paul Biya, after receiving hundreds of tweets from English-Speaking Cameroonians asking for his intervention?

What would Jesus do if presented with the case of millions of English-Speaking Cameroons who have been suppressed by successive Cameroonian governments?

If there is one person in the best position to answer these questions, it would be Pope Francis, the Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope received Paul Biya of Cameroon and his Wife Chantal Biya at the Vatican, after an official state visit to Italy.

English-Speaking Cameroonians and well-wishers across the world held their breath as they expected the Pope to use it as an opportunity to preach a life-changing sermon to Biya. To say they were disappointed would be an understatement. Despite receiving hundreds of tweets with gruesome images and videos of the atrocities being committed in Cameroon by Biya’s government, the Pope chose to treat Biya as if he were a Saint, much to the chagrin and disappointment of millions of Catholic faithful who look up to the Pontiff to be the voice of the voiceless.

In a video released by The Rome Reports TV News Agency,  the Pope can be heard telling Biya after receiving a sculpture of an Elderly Cameroonian that “The Memory of elders is the Wisdom of a Country”.  As one tries to grapple with understanding what memory, or which elders or which wisdom, the statement is refering to, the pope goes on to present Biya with a sculpture that sybolises peace and then drops the bombshell “I Wish for Cameroon to Continue Walking on the Path of Peace”

Really? Cameroon where freedoms and personal liberty is suppressed, Cameroon where a 17-year-old University student is raped by the police and nothing is done about it; Cameroon where leaders of the Civil Society have been in prison for over 2 months, facing the death penalty, for peacefully demanding an end to the suppression of English-Speaking Cameroonians; Cameroon where hundreds have been arrested from their homes in the North West and South West Regions (which practices the Common Law system) and taken hundreds of miles to prison in Yaounde (a Civil Law jurisdiction); Cameroon, the country that has been world champion of corruption on two occassions; Cameroon in which any form of dissension against the corrupt and incompetent dictator is punished with a very lengthy prison sentence?

Is the Pope referring to another Cameroon or the same Cameroon where there is a genocide brewing and in which English-Speaking regions are under threat of extermination?

Anyone familiar with the Bible would not be in doubt about what Jesus would do if he met Biya. Jesus would have told him exactly what he told the Pharisees of his day. In Matt 12 33-36 Jesus had this message for the Pharisees

Make a tree sound and its fruit will be sound; make a tree rotten and its fruit will be rotten. For the tree can be told by its fruit   

 You brood of vipers, how can your speech be good when you are evil? For words flow out of what fills the heart.

Good people draw good things from their store of goodness; bad people draw bad things from their store of badness.

So I tell you this, that for every unfounded word people utter they will answer on Judgement Day

This is the type of message anyone would have expected the Pope to tell Mr. Biya. If I understand verse 35 above correctly, there is no way someone like Biya can bring about peace in Cameroon when he is not at peace with himself. A man whose hands are filled with the blood of innocent Cameroonians cannot be the one the Pope is wishing could be the architect of peace. A bad person as Biya is can only bring forth bad things from his store of badness.

The Pope, therefore, encouraged Biya to go on doing the horrible things he has been doing in Cameroon for the last 35 years, by insinuating that Biya was leading Cameroon on a path of peace.

I am sure even Jesus Christ would be disappointed that the Pope did not use this unique opportunity to preach the gospel to one man who needed to hear it the most. One thing though is clear, Cameroon is nowhere near the path of peace and unless Biya is told the truth by those whose responsibility it is to uphold the truth, then the journey to peace will be a very long on for Cameroon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What

Cameroon High Commission London, Observe Ghost Town as Consortium Leaders go to Court in Yaounde

London Thursday 23rd March, 2017. 

It was meant to be a whole working day for the Cameroon High Commission, which according to its website, is open from 0930-1730 on Mondays to Fridays with the exception of UK and Cameroon Bank Holidays.

As it turned out, Thursday, March 23rd, 2017, was neither a bank holiday in the UK or Cameroon. Rather it was the day Anglophones, both in Cameroon and in the diaspora had agreed to hold a special ‘Ghost Town” in defiance of the decision of the Biya government to continue with the trial of civil society leaders and activists in a military court. Barrister Agbor Balla, Dr. Fontem Neba, Mancho Bibixy, Hon. Chief Justice Ayah Paul Abine, and many other activists were abducted from the English-Speaking regions of Cameroon without adherence to any due process and taken to Yaounde the capital of Cameroon, where they have been remanded in a maximum security prison for over 2 months. Reports from Yaounde state that the case was again adjourned.

Barrister Agbor Balla and Mancho Bibixy Show the World and West Cameroonians that their Spirit cannot be crushed by the Biya Regime's brutality
Barrister Agbor Balla and Mancho Bibixy Show the World and West Cameroonians that their Spirit cannot be crushed by the Biya Regime’s brutality

Activists of West Cameroon Movement for Change and other sympathisers from sister groups in the UK had decided to go to the High Commission of Cameroon as a way of showing solidarity with those arrested and also as a way of observing the ghost towns.

By the time protesters arrived at 1400, they were surprised to find only some members of the  Metropolitan Police outside the High Commission together with some members of the public who turned up for a 1500 appointment to find the doors already closed for the day.

Activists of West Cameroon Movement for Change and other sympathisers from sister groups in the UK had decided to go to the High Commission of Cameroon as a way of showing solidarity with those arrested and also as a way of observing the ghost towns.

By the time protesters arrived at 1400, they were surprised to find only some members of the  Metropolitan Police outside the High Commission together with some members of the public who turned up for a 1500 appointment to find the doors already closed for the day

Sone eye-witnesses who had been there earlier reported that the High Commission had closed its doors at 1400, explaining to people coming for the collection of documents, visas, and passports that this was in response to the planned demonstration there later that afternoon.

The Community Campaigns Officer for WCMC Mr. Collins K. expressed appreciation to the Cameroon High Commission for doing the honourable thing and observing the ghost town as requested. He, therefore, went on to call on those present to end the demonstration at 2200, instead of all-night given that the High Commission’s decision to close early had made it a much successful day than anticipated.

It should be recalled that protesters of WCMC had on a previous occasion spent an entire night outside the High Commission, thereby preventing the acting High Commissioner from going home.

The Chairman of WCMC, Mr. Mykel Takie, in a statement, thanked all the members who made it to the protest. He also extended his gratitude to those who could not, due to other commitments, but sent in their moral support. He further explained that this struggle was not for the faint hearted, and called on all members to know it was a ‘Marathon and not a 100-meter race’.

WCMC is planning a visit to the BBC, where they intend to shame the Broadcasting House for its complicity in the ongoing crisis in Cameroon through its act of silence. Many feel let down by the BBC to whom they are required by British law to pay TV license.

Another protest at the French Embassy to demand a response to an earlier petition submitted is also planned.

Activists Became Uninvited Guests at CommonWealth Day Celebrations in London: Hold Cameroon Diplomats Hostage

London: March 13, 2017; The CommonWealth Day Celebrations lost all the flair and pomp planned for it because of West Cameroon activists who stormed Westminster Abbey where the Queen and all representatives of CommonWealth Countries were present.

Carrying a coffin draped with the Cameroon flag, they chanted demands asking for the liberation of West Cameroon. They declared their willingness to die for the struggle if something was not done to address the situation.

The highlight of the afternoon was when the Cameroon representatives tried to leave the venue before others. Activists chased their car towards the House of Commons. By Divine providence, a red light stopped the Diplomatic car, giving activists the opportunity to catch up and rain more embarrassment on those inside. The London Met Police and the Secret Service could only watch as there was little do to stop the protesters.

Later that evening, as all Commonwealth dignitaries were hoping for an evening of champagne, they were dismayed to turn up at the CommonWealth Secretariat only to find activists waiting with messages for the Biya regime. The then notorious coffin had also taken its place at the CommonWealth Secretariat.

It is worth remembering that this is the third visit to the Commonwealth Secretariat. The first of which saw a petition handed to the Secretary General, Patricia Scotland QC, demanding a suspension of Cameroon and the second during which an official made a vague promise to do something to ameliorate the situation.

The shadow of the protest cast a gloom over the evening dinner as more police officers were called to assist with policing the evening.

The evening reached its peak when the Cameroon representatives could not leave the event while their counterparts were going.

Dispute pleas from the police, protesters insisted that unless they saw the car of the Cameroon Diplomats they were not going to leave the venue.

 

Late in the night, when it was ascertained that the Cameroon representatives had been smuggled out of the venue in the cars of other diplomats… the coffin left its post. BUT with a firm promise to back.

Many of the dignitaries showed interest in understanding the plight of the protesters with some asking for further information and sources from which to find out more.

 

THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES!

UK Cameroonians & Sympathisers Deliver Petition at French Embassy; Demand Response From CommonWealth Secretariat

Friday 20 January 2017 was a very chilly day in London, with temperatures just about 2 degrees or less. Even more chilling were the images and messages carried by Cameroonians and their sympathisers from across the United Kingdom. The messages were similar to those carried in previous demonstrations, decrying and denouncing the marginalisation of English-speaking Cameroonians. There was also a petition that was signed by all present and handed to a representative of the French government.

One noticeable difference, however, were the images and messages demanding the release of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium leaders – Barrister Agbor Balla and Dr Fontem Neba.

free-balla-and-neba

Their first destination was the Embassy of France in Knightsbridge, London. Among the many songs chanted, most notable, was one asking the question ‘how many people will Paul Biya Kill?’ – the appropriateness of the question is reflected in the silence of the international community to the violent crackdown going on in Cameroon. One cannot there help but wonder with the protesters – how many people does a dictator have to kill before there is an international outcry?

Another notable song was a dirge from the slavery days:

Oh, my home! Oh, my home!
When shall I see my home
When shall I see my native land
I will never forget my home!

By this song, the demonstrators were implying they were slaves in their own country. Another interpretation could be the barbaric conditions that had made some of the demonstrators to flee their Cameroon.

Why Embassy of France?

Many people might wonder why the protesters went to the French Embassy and Commonwealth Secretariat instead of going to the Cameroon High Commission. The reason is simple – they understand that the problems in Cameroon are directly linked to France’s continuous domination in Africa. In 1916, the French and British, after taking Cameroon from the Germans, arbitrarily divided the country between them. France had 80% of the Country, while the UK had 20%. These two regions, therefore, evolved with two distinct colonial structures and cultures.

Upon independence in 1960, the French staged a false independence after a war that had killed about 120,000 Cameroonian Nationalists. The UK however, in 1961, quickly left Southern Cameroons, following a sham plebiscite that amalgamated the two regions in a manner that created the conditions for a political osmosis. Given the French control of the Cameroon economy, and her inglorious history of intervening in the affairs of many African countries, it was only natural for the protesters to stop at France’s doors to demand that their country be left alone.

What seemed to be a simple demonstration almost spiralled out of control when the French Embassy refused to receive the signed petition from the demonstrators. The anger of the crowd was only assuaged when a contingent of British police officers, explained to the French Embassy that they could not refuse the petition. Audience was finally granted to the representatives of the West Cameroon Movement For Change (WCMC), UK. The petition was handed, with a promise that protesters will return if it was not acted upon.

Return to the Commonwealth Secretariat

On Friday, 09 December 2016, Cameroonians handed a petition to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, in which they demanded the suspension of Cameroon from the intergovernmental organisation. As no noticeable action has been seen from the organisation, protesters, therefore turned up at the Secretariat to demand a response to their petition.

Despite being a very peaceful protest, the large police presence was an indication that the demonstrators’ reaction to the French hesitation to collect their petition, had sent a clear message to the Met Police. The message was simple: this was not a joke!!!

After an agonising wait, the WCMC chairperson and another representative emerged fromimg-20170120-wa00441 the Secretariat with a letter which was read to the crowd. The letter had been hastily put together and did not respond directly to the petition. The crowd expressed their disappointment, but promised a return unless some decisive action was taken soon – at least beginning with an official statement from the Commonwealth, denouncing the killings, rape, torture and arbitrary arrests taking place in Southern Cameroons.

 

West Cameroon Movement for Change Petition French Embassy, London

On Friday, 20 January 2017, the West Cameroon Movement for Change, UK, led protesters to the French Embassy where they handed a petition.

The petition had five requests for the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, to pass on to her country. It asks France to:

  1. Stop its support for the dictatorial regime in Cameroon
  2. Condemn the rape, torture, acts of violence and arbitrary arrests of innocent citizens.
  3. Stop the proliferation of arms within Cameroon and the French African Region
  4. Stop its continuous dominance and exploitation of Cameroon through non-existent or extinct ‘bilateral deals’.
  5. Recognise that her continuous lopsided interference in Cameroon is likely to lead to a genocide similar to that of Rwanda.

Below is the full English version of the petition:

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The petition ended by reiterating the demands of WCMC and their sympathisers.

Below is a copy French Version of the petition

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