The trial continued at the Yaounde Military Tribunal on Thursday, July 14, 2016, of Gendarmerie Captain, Bouba Simala, on threats allegedly proffered against his former boss, Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Djibril, Speaker of the National Assembly. Simala, who is the Speaker’s nephew and long-time member of his personal guard for over 20 years, is now accused of simple threats and outrage against him and disobeying instructions.
The charge sheet specifies that the count on disobeying instructions has to do with behaviour capable of tarnishing military honour and dignity. All the offences are punishable under Articles 74, 154 and 301 of the Penal Code and Article 230 of Military Justice Code. The matter was heard by Lt. Col. Meffand, with Mr. Justice Tang Reuben as State Counsel. Of the 10 witnesses listed for the prosecution, four were present, but only Ekono Nkoue’e Joseph, and Monongnok Ebenezer, were led in their testimonies by Tang Reuben. The other prosecution witnesses are Yongwa Jean Nicolas, Mvodo Abah Apollinaire, Abena Richard, Ahanda Bruno, Danladi Garba, Hamidou Jean Paul, Harouna and Akambot Me Mama.
Ekono Nkoue’e Joseph, a Third Grade Inspector of Police, said Captain Simala arrived in the Yaounde residence of the Speaker in the morning of Saturday, June 13, 2015, in sportswear and not armed, and asked some officers on guard duty at the gate if they had replaced the National Assembly number plate on the Speaker’s official vehicle with an ordinary one like he had instructed. Captain Simala reportedly told Warrant Officer Hamidou Jean Paul to inform Cavaye Yeguie Djibril that he will be kidnapped. Bouba Simala allegedly added that he had already contacted Major Gen. Ivo Desancio Yenwo of the Department of Presidential Security to help him with men for the job.
Simala reportedly told the officers that he was responsible for what would happen, warning them to cooperate during the abduction and promising that they will be set free afterwards. Asked what he did on hearing the threat, Ekono said he went back to the Police Post where he was on guard duty and did not make a report about the incident in the post’s “Instructions Register.” He was cross-examined by Barrister Koumaï Bouba, counsel for the civil claimant and Barrister Simh Emmanuel, lawyer for Captain Simala. Lt. Col. Meffand also took time off to cross-examine the First Prosecution Witness.
It emerged from the testimonies that Captain Bouba Simala never had the opportunity to personally meet and threaten Hon. Cavaye nor show any outrage against him. Despite the reported threat against him, the Speaker still went out for sports that Saturday and returned home safely; though he changed itinerary and went to Mfou on the outskirts of Yaounde instead of the Parcours Vita sports ground near Monte Febe Hotel in Yaounde. Asked if the car the Speaker finally used an official or ordinary number plate, Ekono said he could not remember. Neither did Captain Bouba Simala finally accompany Cavaye on his sports exercise.
The Second Prosecution Witness, Police Inspector Monongnok Ebenezer, later took the witness box to narrate almost what his colleague, Ekono Nkoue’e Joseph had earlier said, but could not say what number plate the Speaker’s car used that day, though his security vehicle drove behind that of Cavaye Yeguie Djibril’s, to and from Mfou – a distance of about 50 km round trip.
Questioned who of the guards at the Speaker’s residence informed him of the alleged abduction threat, none of the two witnesses could say – even more than a year after. Lt. Col. Meffand expressed consternation at the fact that Monongnok Ebenezer could not remember if Cavaye’s vehicle used the PAN (Speaker of the National Assembly), AN (National Assembly) or CE ordinary number plate for such a long ride, saying this demonstrated gross negligence by a security officer detailed to protect the country’s third most ranked personality.
There was a mild, but prolonged drama during the sitting when a female lawyer stood up to announce that she had come to stand in for Barrister Fotso Faustine who wanted to join the counsel for the civil claimant. Barrister Koumaï Bouba, who was contracted for the same job and had already begun cross-examining the First Prosecution Witness, expressed shock at the development, saying the colleague, contrary to legal practice, did not inform him. After long arguments with court officials and other lawyers, Barrister Fotso’s letter of intent to defend the civil interests of Hon. Cavaye was accepted.
Hours after, when Barrister Fotso herself finally arrived in the court room, the disagreement continued, especially after she asked for adjournment to enable her study the case file. Her request was finally granted and the matter adjourned to August 11, 2016, for her and another lawyer to join the civil claimant team.
Initially accused of terrorism, robbery and attempted kidnap, the charges against Captain Bouba Simala were changed. The matter has been in the Yaounde Military Tribunal since August 5, 2015. A different team began hearing it until last February when the trial had to be halted following the transfer of members. A new trial team has since taken over, obliged to begin the matter from scratch.