By Ayah Paul Abine
|Paul Ayah:facing threats|
Those familiar with Cameroon’s politics since 1982 would acknowledge that no-one has ever challenged Mr. Biya’s leadership in CPDM without being dumped in prison or forced into exile. Examples being of worldwide notoriety, any specific mention of names here would be in superfluity. Those who had thought that Ayah’s case could constitute some unique exception may soon be proved wrong in the light of the way Ayah has been placed under surveillance and subjected to threats of even bodily harm.
Incontrovertible evidence exists to the effect that People’s Action Party – PAP – was legally registered on April 26, 1991 as No 16 of over 200 political parties in Cameroon today. Ayah heads that party now and the authorities in Cameroon have been notified as by law required. God alone knows why all the over 200 parties are functioning with little hitch whereas there are hurdles in the way each time PAP proposes to carry out political activities as permitted by the law.
It is already well known that Ayah was prevented at the nick of time from using semi-public premises – the OIC. In Bamenda, the flimsy excuse was that the premises belonged to a missionary organization – the Catholic Mission. But the CPDM uses even cathedrals for political activities. Even when we paid for private premises, the Administration still had the premises stormed by the police and journalists were brutalized for covering police brutality.
For months now, CPDM has been extorting money from members of the public ostensibly to register their members and supporters on the electoral rolls with the connivance of the Government. But when for once PAP declared they would hold a rally to sensitized Cameroonians to register for elections, the Divisional Officer for Buea promptly sent the police to disrupt the rally without even the courtesy to notify any banning order to PAP.
PAP had earlier declared the rally to the Divisional Officer within the law. A day before the rally, Ayah had received distress calls that the Commissioner of Police for Muea had summoned up the owner of the premises and threatened him with reprisals including bodily harm and closure of the establishment if he allowed PAP to use the premises. When Ayah contacted the said commissioner on the phone to find out what the matter was the latter banged the phone on him.
Not having been served any banning order, Ayah moved to Muea in a convoy at the appointed time and found the police in front of the premises. To avoid confrontation, PAP had no choice but to amass by the roadside about opposite the premises. The Commissioner of Police for Buea and other officers in both uniforms and plain clothes came up to Paul Ayah and told him to leave with the crowd. Ayah insisted that, having complied with the law, the rally must go on where the crowd had amassed whatever the consequences. As the police were on their phones,…Ayah climbed on a pick-up and proceeded to address the crowd on the necessity to get registered on the electoral rolls absolutely before the remaining two weeks for registration had run out. The police stood by at the opposite side of the road, listening.
Ayah later led the crowd in a march along the main street of Muea, addressing the people at two other locations. The convoy then drove to Mile 17 Roundabout for Ayah’s fourth and final address to the crowds. The convoy finally retired to the PAP secretariat at Bakassi Na Cameroon. The police had trailed the crowd all along and only dispersed at Bakassi Na Cameroon. They clearly marveled at the peaceful and orderly conduct of the rally; not least by PAP’s message to Cameroonians.
But the unanswered question is why Mr. Biya’s agents are continually clamping down on Paul Ayah. Could it be that they want to push Ayah to the wall so he could give them the pretext to eliminate him? This supposition finds pertinence in the fact that, just the day before, some other candidate had held a clearly illegal rally at Mile 17 Roundabout without even a declaration to the very Divisional Officer; and yet without any negative official move. It is all the more pertinent as Ayah remains consistently targeted even as PAP is a legal political party; and Ayah is only one of over twenty declared candidates for the upcoming election in Cameroon? OVER!