There is anxiety in Bamenda as the Appeal court is finally set to pronounce a key ruling in the most intriguing murder case of an American citizen, of Cameroonian origin, Kum Joseph Sang, in the city. The judges will decide if the brother of the deceased, Kum Martin, should face the law for his alleged role in the August 14, 2012 murder that shook Bamenda four years ago. That was the demand of the government attorney (Commisaire du Gouvernement) in the trial case that has been snail walking in the Bamenda military court. But the Appeal Court has repeatedly adjourned the ruling which the military court has been waiting for to help solve the murder.
We understand the North West Procureur General has instructed that the ruling must be delivered within five days – that is, latest Monday, September 12, 2016. The ruling is very vital and is expected to affect the proceedings and eventual outcome of the trial in the military court. Some suspects in the case have cited Martin Kum in open court and in their preliminary statements which the prosecution has concluded warrants him to be docked. Martin Kum who was earlier arrested and released will know on Monday if he will remain a free man or join other suspects who have spent four years awaiting trial in the Bamenda Central Prison. Even so, the case has suffered so many speed breaks at different levels. Weary of the hitch packed investigations by the judicial police, the Special Branch Police department that was instructed to take over the investigations.
Within months the undercover police investigators gathered conclusively evidence that apparently pinned Kum Martin to the murder. The special branch police assistant commissioner, Likeng Jean Paul would make startling revelations in court on 14 December 2012. Summoned to testify before the military court, 2nd Grade Superintendent of Police Likeng Jean Paul narrated how they cornered a certain Beyeka Joseph who pointedly accused Martin Kum as the hand behind the death of his kid brother, Kum Joseph Sang. His testimony led to the arrest of Kum Martin and his cousin, Samuel Wackeh and another female acquaintance of the late Kum Joseph, Mankah Vera on 30 December, 2012. They were detained for a week but the lady was freed on the way as they were being transferred to Bamenda Central Prison on January 6, 2015. Up to 11 suspects were arrested even before the trial opened at the Bafoussam military court.
The case was later transferred to Bamenda when President Paul Biya created a separate military court in Bamenda. Kum Joseph Sang was killed by gun men at their family home in Foncha Street, Bamenda. It happened at about 8pm on 14 August 2012 – on the eve of his planned return to the US. His companion Kinjo Kimbi Kingsley survived the attack. Meanwhile, Kum Martin later laid a complaint about the murder at the police citing some names as well as against some anonymous persons. Ten people were then arrested from different parts of the country. That includes Ferdinand Ngwota, who had just arrived the country on the score that he was allegedly an enemy of the late man back in the United States. He has since pleaded not guilty. He was roped in simply for calling to know if truly, Kum Joseph whom he knew was actually killed. For now though, all eyes and ears are itchy for the Bamenda Appeal court ruling come next Monday. Will it be a case of a hunter becoming the hunted?
The public has also been begging for answers as to why the US diplomats are not interested in monitoring the progress or lack of it in a case that concerns the murder of their own citizen. People are wondering aloud: Could it have been different if Kum Joseph was not of Cameroonian origin? That is the discussion you can hear amongst inquisitive Bamenda public following the case. People want to know why the Americans will not pursue the case to the last detail to understand how their own citizen died. We called the US Embassy in Yaoundé over the matter but we were, referred to the US consulate. Nevertheless tongues are wagging among the anxious Bamenda public following up the trial. They are wondering if this is sheer neglect, omission or just normal reaction. That will be the subject of our subsequent reporting.
By Randy Joe Sa’ah