The Cameroon Baptist Convention summoned by the Bamenda Court of First Instance while the PCC moderator will appear before the Buea High Court on Monday April 24.
Rev. Godwill Ncham Chiatoh, Executive President of the Cameroon Baptist Convention is expected to appear before the Bamenda Court of First Instance on Friday April 21 at 9am alongside three bishops of the Catholic Church- Cornelius Fontem Esua, Archbishop of Bamenda, Michael Bibi, Auxiliary Bishop of Bamenda, George Nkuo, Bishop of Kumbo and some reverend fathers who head catholic secondary schools.
According to a summons Journal du Cameroun stumbled upon, the Cameroon Baptist Convention which runs several schools and hospitals is facing the same charges levied on the Catholic church by a newly created “Anglophone Parents’ Consortium” represented by two high ranking officers of the Cameroon army and a certain Barrister Julius Achu.
We gathered that authorities of the CBC and those of the Catholic Church are being sued for allegedly supporting the on-going protests against a perceived marginalisation of English-speaking Cameroon. Both churches are being sued to pay 150billion FCFA each to the organisation for damages.
Like the suit against the Catholic Church made public last week, that of the CBC says the church is being sued by a “Consortium of parents”. Many parents in the North West and South West however question the legality of the organisation. Some fanatics of the on-going protest argue the dubious suites have been masterminded by Paul Atanga Nji, Minister Delegate at the Presidency in Charge of Special Duties, reportedly notorious of trying to discredit the protests- the allegations are far from proven.
The clergy of both churches, according to the subpoenas by the Bamenda Court of First Instance, are accused of failing to ask parents to send their children to school despite collecting school fees from them. The complainants claim in the separate summonses that the action is an offence contrary to and punishable under section 151 of the Penal Code. The CBC Executive President, Bishops Cornelius Fontem Esua, Bishop Michael, Bishop George Nkuo after a meeting with others signed a joint release indicating that the non-resumption of school was as a result of the unresolved political problem. According to the complainants, is an offence contrary to and punishable under section 157(a)of the Penal Code.
They are also accused of refusing to pay salaries of teachers in mission schools for several months, an offence contrary to and punishable under section 183(2) of the Penal Code, according to the plaintiffs. Other counts include release of communiqué which “propagated false information and puts national Unity in danger” among others.
In reaction to the summons, the Catholic Bishops issued a statement, noting that the church is not aware of the existence of any ‘consortium of parents’. The statement which was read in churches on Easter Sunday, said the Bishops and fathers will honour the summons nonetheless.
Archbishop Samuel Kleda, President of National Episcopal Conference for his part, argues the Catholic Church did not call the strike and cannot be accused today of preventing students from going to school. He questioned why the church was targeted when schools have been paralyzed in almost all sectors both in Public, Private and Confessional schools.
The Anglophone Civil Society Consortium which has been coordinating the strike since November 2016 is currently multiplying calls on citizens to stage a street protest on April 21 when the clergy are expected to appear in court. Reports from Bamenda say Christians are responding positively to the call.
A statement circulating on social media and attributed to Barrister Akere Muna, casts doubts on the legality of the suit against the clergy. The statement says “legally the case has no wings and won’t fly”. The legal luminary tweeted April 17 “Happy Easter everyone, with a special thought to our fearless bishops. If only everyone could have the same commitment for love and justice”.
Retired Colonel Tamabang Simon Che, one of the names plaintiffs on the summons is said to have washed his hands off the matter, noting that he is not the author of the complaint and has nothing to do with it.
Rt. Rev. Fonki Samuel Forba, like Catholic bishops, is calling on christians to pray for him as he represents the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon at the Buea High Court next Monday.
Meanwhile Barrister Julius Achu, counsel of the complainants, says his life is in danger. He told Equinoxe TV yesterday that some unidentified people have declared him “wanted dead or alive”. He said the social media is flooded with a photo of him marked with a red cross on his forehead and with the inscription, “wanted dead or alive.”
Government is yet to make an official statement on the issue.
Additional reporting by Hansel Ngala in Bamenda