Arcbishop Samuel Kleda, President of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon has told Bishops of Central Africa that their colleague Jean-Marie Benoit Bala was murdered. He made the declaration today at an Episcopal Conference of Bishops of the Central African sub region where President Biya was represented by Rene Sadi, Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation.
The prelate noted that Bishop Bala is the second bishop assassinated in Cameroon. Bishop Kleda was simply reiterating the stance of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon which he said earlier on July 8, will not change despite a contrary declaration by government. The Attorney General of the Centre Region Court of Appeal issued a press release last week claiming that an autopsy carried out by two teams of experts, indicated that 58-year old Bishop Bala might have committed suicide by drowning.
The press statement, which was only a preliminary of the ongoing judicial inquiry in to the tragic death of the prelate, came days after the Bishops of Cameroon had, in an emergency Episcopal Conference meeting in Yaounde, declared that their Bafia peer was clearly brutally assassinated. They had at the emergency meeting also called on government to ensure that perpetrators of such a heinous act are tracked down and brought to justice.
Speaking at a press conference Saturday July 8, 2017 in Yaounde at the start of the Episcopal Conference Bishop Kleda, was direct that despite the version of the Attorney General insinuating suicide, they were of the firm conviction that Mgr. Bala, was killed. Quizzed on whether the mortal remains of the late bishop had been handed over to the church for burial as was revealed in the press release issued by the Centre Region Appeal Court Attorney General, Archbishop Kleda, who declined speaking further on the subject matter, simply responded that “a corpse does not disappear”.
Recall that since the discovery of Bishop Bala’s lifeless body in river Sanaga on June 2 following his disappearance two days earlier, opinions have been largely divided over the exact cause of the prelate’s death. While some hold the view (basing their subsumption on testimonies given by some of the prelate’s closest collaborators after his disappearance) that the man of God may have committed suicide, many are those who strongly believe that he was but a victim of a well calculated and villainous assassination plot.
Last week’s press release of the Centre Region Court of Appeal Attorney General ruling out the possibility of assassination, has since deepened the controversy surrounding the subject matter. However, the judicial inquiry launched to ascertain the veracity of the death is still underway and hopes are that a better understanding of the situation will only be possible when the report of the full inquiry would have been unveiled.