Common Law Lawyers have flouted the bar president’s call to resume work after more than six months stalemate
Barrister Jackson Ngnie Kamga, President of the Cameroon Bar Council, had announced earlier on April 9, that Anglophone Lawyers have resolved to don their wigs and gowns and head back to the court rooms on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. However, reports on the field on May 2, say courts in Bamenda and Buea, chief towns of the North West and South West regions respectively, still remain closed.
Barrister Ngnie Kamga’s public declaration had attracted widespread criticisms from proponents of the Anglophone struggle with many calling the move as a desperate attempt by the Biya regime to lure them back into the courtrooms. Barristers Harmony Bobga and Elias Eyambe Ebai, Presidents of NOWELA and MELA, respectively, who are both at large had asserted that the Bar President has no moral authority to call off a strike he did not initiate.
Another set of criticism came from the outlawed Anglophone Consortium leaders who condemned the bar president’s actions. In an April 10 press release, the Consortium leaders wrote: “The Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, CACSC, has taken note of a press release issued by the President of the Cameroon Bar Association, Jackson Ngnie Kamga, alleging a series of meetings with some so-called “very senior” lawyers in Bamenda and Buea, which meetings recommended that the Bar President was “hereby authorised to enter into dialogue with the Government on matters bearing on the Common Law Lawyers… and that advocates of the Southwest and Northwest Regions shall resume work on the May 2, 2017…
The Consortium wishes to remind all and sundry that Barrister Ngnie Kamga is not a Common Law Lawyer, does not know anything concerning the Common Law and is well aware of the existence of four Common Law Lawyers’ Associations into which all the said lawyers are regrouped; Fako Lawyers Association, FAKLA, Meme Lawyers Association, MELA, Manyu Lawyers Association, MALA and the Northwest Lawyers Association, NOWELA, and their presidents, who were the only ones initially mandated to talk on their behalf.
That means any meeting and resolutions arrived at with any so-called “very senior” lawyers and the resolutions thereof are null and void.
Further, Barrister Ngnie Kamga is not unaware that the Common Law Lawyers had joined other civil society associations working for the restoration of the Statehood of Southern Cameroons to form the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium and made it the sole body to handle any issues with the Government – where it could become necessary.
This simply means no one, except the Consortium, through its elected representatives, some of whom are in detention and others on the run, have the power to conduct any negotiations on behalf of Common Law Lawyers.
Regarding the so-called promises made by the Government, through the Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals to redeem demands made several months ago by Common Law Lawyers, the Consortium made it clear that the measures which mostly represented political promises, which could at any time be swept under the carpet, were too little and came too late.
We are calling on both national and international opinion to witness that the Biya-led regime can never be trusted at any time and instances abound to prove this point; where are the laptops promised to University students over one year today? Where is the FCFA 2 billion subvention promised to lay private and mission schools in Cameroon about five months back? Where is the ring-road Mr. Biya promised the people of the Northwest Region he would personally supervise over 22 years ago?
Thus, any reference to those promises, made worse with the inclusion of conditions, will be regarded henceforth as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition towards the peace loving people of the Southern Cameroons and shall be tantamount to unnecessary provocation.”
The Cameroon Bar had in response, faulted the common law lawyers for undermining the authority of the bar council and that of the bar association as a whole. It stated in a counter release, signed by its Secretary General on behalf of the President, the institution had powers to act in the interest of all lawyers in Cameroon regardless whether they are civil law lawyers or common law lawyers.