Friday, March 21, 2014

Bello Bouba Maigari: Laughingstock of a Politician!

By Asonganyi Tazoacha
Bello Bouba Maigari
Christian Cardinal Tumi wrote a book “The political regimes of Ahmadou Ahidjo and Paul Biya, and Christian Tumi, priest” in which he brought out the following mentality of state authorities he encountered in northern Cameroon: 1) “One Divisional officer even dared to say that Christianity was for the south and Islam for the north of Cameroon;” 2) “A senior divisional officer even went as far as to say that he had the power to take a decision that went contrary to the provisions of the law;” 3) “There was the impression at that time that a Moslem could commit any crime and go unpunished by the laws of the land. One divisional officer even had the audacity to declare that laws of the land only applied to the southern part of the country!” 4) “… [M]any young, non-Moslems of the north believe that they can only get work with the government if they become Moslem; or at least, bear Moslem names.  That is a moral pressure that violates the individual’s freedom to choose in conscience his own religion…” 5) “Even to this day, I still wonder why some senior divisional officers allow certain Lamibe to act the way they like…dreadful traditional rulers, who are dreaded by their people. The senior divisional officers give the impression that they are powerless in the face of the excesses of those uncompromising Lamibe…I had the impression that in the north, the senior divisional officer who represents the Head of State, is the auxiliary of the Lamibe…”
    Bello Bouba Maigari hails from Garoua in North Region. He is the president of the National Union for Democracy and Progress (NUDP) political party. The party was founded in the early ‘90s in his absence, while he was on political exile in Nigeria. The first president was Samuel Eboa, who hailed from Nkongsamba in Littoral Region. When Bello Bouba returned from exile he schemed with other northern barons of the party at a controversial convention of the party to replace Samuel Eboa as the president of the party; Eboa stormed out of the party in anger and founded his own party, Movement for Democracy and Progress (MDP).
    One would think that Bello Bouba was anxious to take over the party to use it as a vehicle to end once and for all the appalling human rights abuses described by Christian Cardinal Tumi. This has turned out not to be the case. The violations described here are a testimony of this.
    During the legislative elections of 1992, Bello Bouba’s party won 68
seats, including three from Mayo Rey constituency (Haman Adama, Ahmadou Bakary, and Koulagna Nana). On January 8, 1996, while Haman Adama and Ahmadou Bakary were carrying out their parliamentary activities in the field, the militia of the Lamido of Rey Bouba attacked their convoy, got them well beaten, and Haman Adama eventually died on February 18, 1996 from the injuries he sustained from the beating. No investigation was carried out, and no arrests were made; the crime went unpunished!
    Just before the parliamentary elections in May 1997, Koulagna Nana – another NUDP MP - was conducting his election campaign in Mayo-Rey Division on behalf of NUDP; on May 12, 1997 he and other NUDP members were attacked by the private militia of the Lamido of Rey Bouba. Two NUDP members and three members of the militia reportedly died in the confrontation. In spite of his parliamentary immunity, Koulagna Nana and 15 other NUDP members and supporters were detained, but no member of the private militia was arrested. All but Koulagna Nana and six others were subsequently released without charge. The judicial authorities in Garoua later ordered Koulagna's release without charge, but he remained in administrative detention in Garoua Central Prison until October 1998 when he and the six others were charged by a military tribunal with murder, arson, looting, illegal possession of firearms, and other offences related to the events of May 1997; he only regained
 his freedom in 2000!
   All this can be contrasted with the vigorous reaction of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) political party following the murder on August 20, 2004 of John Kohtem, SDF Electoral District Chairman of Balikumbat, by Fon Doh Gah Gwanyin, traditional ruler, MP and Mayor of Balikumbat. From August 23-26, 2004, the SDF organized marches in Bamenda to protest Kohtem’s murder, converging at the governor’s office. On August 25, Fru Ndi and many of us NEC members led a group of opposition politicians to Balikumbat to visit John Kohtem’s family; on August 27, SDF members wore black mourning suits to attend the corpse removal ceremony at the Bamenda Mortuary and vowed revenge.  With pressure mounting, investigations into the murder were opened and some two weeks after the murder, 11 suspects were arrested and locked up.
   Under increasing heat from the SDF, the government issued a press release assuring Cameroonians and the international community that the people suspected to have contributed in beating John Kohtem to death, would face the law, their social standing notwithstanding, claiming that “Cameroon is a state of law, which has established the equality of all before the law, as well as judicial independence guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic.” In February 2005, the National Assembly lifted the parliamentary immunity of Fon Doh, paving the way for him to stand trial on murder charges with respect to the death of John Kohtem; he was later found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison for masterminding and participating in the murder of Kohtem.
    Let us get back to Bello Bouba’s party again. During the elections of September 30, 2013, one of the cherished victories of the NUDP was in Touboro Council in Mayo Rey constituency. One of the architects of the victory was Celestin Yandal the president of the “Collectif des jeunes de Touboro,” and one of the candidates on the council list of the NUDP. Following that victory, none other than Koulagna Nana was elected Mayor of Touboro Council. The reaction of the Lamido of Rey Bouba did not take long to come; in December 2013, Municipal Councillor Celestin Yandal was arrested and locked up. Following shortly after that, Yandal’s wife died from some medical complications and Yandal was refused bail to attend the funeral of his wife! To add insult to injury, Mouhamman Toukour, NUDP Mayor of Ngaoudere II on his way to attend the funeral of Yandal’s wife, died in an accident on Ngaoundere -Touboro road on Feb 9, 2014.
   All this confirms the fact that in the northern part of Cameroon, more than anywhere else, administrative officials have the power to take decisions that go contrary to the provisions of the law; laws of the land only seem to apply to the southern part of the country, not the northern part! In that part of the country, Lamibe are dreadful traditional rulers that violate the rights and freedoms of their subjects with impunity, with administrative officials acting virtually like auxiliaries of the Lamibe.
   And so Celestin Yandal is still languishing in detention! And Bello Bouba Maigari is sitting in government, watching all this in silence!! How else can a politician make himself a laughingstock? How else can an evil regime collude with traditional rulers to trample on the rights and freedoms of citizens?

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