There was a huge police presence on Friday the 7th of April 2017 outside the military tribunal in Yaoundé where the leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium are on trial for offenses including terrorism. Fists flew as supporters of the Southern Cameroon leaders tried to push past police who used choke holds to keep the crowd at bay. It was part of a series of hearings on charges ranging from public disorder to terrorism. The Southern Cameroon leaders had denied the allegations and said they were victims of political persecution from La Republique du Cameroun.
In a trial already painted by the international community as paying the price of speaking truth to Power, Dr. Agbor Balla entered the Kangaroo court yesterday and demonstrated the V-sign symbol of victory and testament of an unbroken spirit. It was also a rare moment of communion with Dr. Fontem Neba; answering the call of duty, as Mancho BBC remains stubbornly defiant.
The Case was adjourned to April 27 as the Biya Francophone regime joined the 25 other Anglophone detainees to the lawsuit. Lawyers of the Consortium leaders had asked the military court in Yaounde to free Dr Agbor Balla and Dr Fontem on recommendations from the African Union and the United Nations human rights committees. The case, and the international attention it has gathered is now a headache for President Biya as he tries to improve Cameroon’s image and attract European investment needed to help pull the country out of recession.
The Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium has been protesting the marginalization of Anglophones since 2016 when its leadership was arrested and charged. Rights groups branded this a violation of free speech but the charges have still not been replaced. Supporters of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium said the numerous adjournments looked like a maneuver aimed simply at keeping the leaders behind bars.
The 84 year old Cameroonian dictator, Paul Biya has blatantly refused to give prompt attention to recommendations from international bodies that have called the pre-trial detention of the Consortium leaders unwarranted and arbitrary.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai with files from Sama Ernest