Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cameroon: Presidency Disappointed as Buea Council Bars Accredited Editor from First Lady's Event

Chris Ambe:RECORDER Editor
The Presidency of the Republic  is  said to be disappointed at  news  that, the CPDM-run Buea Council  Municipal Police,  reportedly acting on firm instruction from  Mayor  Ekema Patrick Esunge, chased away  the  editor of  The RECORDER newspaper, who was officially accredited to  cover  the  “AIDS-free Holidays” campaign, an initiative of First Lady ,Chantal Biya,which took place  at the  Buea Council
        Armed with an invitation from Jean Stephane Biatcha , Executive Secretary of African Synergy Against AIDS and Suffering, to cover the closing ceremony of “AIDS-Free Holidays” and  already seated in the hall taking down notes ,the Buea Council Police having failed to persuade  your  editor  leave the hall  while the event ,chaired by Southwest Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai ,was going on, employed the services of  a police man.
The police officer entered the hall and politely told the editor that the latter’s attention was needed outside the hall. When the editor stepped out he was confronted by several municipal council police security men, who insisted that he should leave the Council’s premises, without any justification.
         Your editor’s attempts to bring them to reason (by showing his formal invitation and insisting on his legal right to have access to the council office, which is public and not private property), failed.
          Even when a senior superintendent of police intervened and asked them to produce documentary evidence showing that your editor was a persona non-grata of the Council, they rather looked confused and could not show any document.  Waiving aside the invitation shown to them, they insisted that they could not take the risk of letting your editor re-enter the hall, for fear of losing their jobs.
“We have received instruction from hierarchy to send you out,” they said, calling your editor by name, indicative of the fact that it was not a matter of mistaken identity.
One of the council guards then rushed into the hall and brought out your editor’s bag, which contained his journalistic gadgets and handed to him.
       When your editor made it abundantly clear to the Council guards that their uncalled-for hostility was doing a disservice to the First lady, who wished to see the event extensively reported by the media, the mayor’s men reiterated that  they were simply executing hierarchical instruction.
         The Senior Police Superintendent(name withheld), in the heat of  the argument asked your editor to go stand by the open door of the hall and perform his journalistic assignment, since the Governor was already addressing the large audience. Even when your editor stood by the door, he was “guarded” by the Council’s men in uniform for fear that your editor could dash into the hall against “instruction from hierarchy”
          Immediately the ceremony ended and Mayor Ekema was out for a group picture, the number of guards monitoring your editor increased, and your editor  was later escorted out of the council, as on-lookers and other journalists present were at a loss to understand what was actually happening.
“Is this the Change  Has Come to Buea slogan in action ? ” an observer who witnessed the drama, wondered aloud, before recommending  that the CPDM Party hierarchy should urgently  call Buea  Council authorities   to order.
Your editor is not the only one reportedly blacklisted by Buea Council.
        Even Ayang Mc Donald, young but critical reporter  of the Eden newspaper whose reports like those of your editor are considered too critical of the Buea Council, has been molested and chased away on several occasions  from the Council by the Mayor’s men, some of who have been threatening journalists with a penchant for hard news.
          The Recorder gathered that only journalists or those passing for journalists who, for selfish reasons, avoid or don’t even know what is  critical and investigative reporting are allowed access into Buea Council.
A council policeman confided in your editor that because he (editor) is a close friend  to Senator Charles Mbella Moki who reportedly has a personality conflict with Mayor Ekema, the latter suspects that the former must be encouraging critical reporting on the Council management and officials.
     Unfortunately, the Buea Council’s hostility towards certain journalists is being exercised not long after the CPDM Central Committee organized a seminar for all CPDM mayors in the Southwest at CNPS Hall, emphasizing the great need for them to adopt a more open door policy and transparency in the management of councils, to show that the CPDM remains the leading party in the promotion of democratic tenets.
A senior official at the Presidency of the Republic who learned of the molestation of your editor by a CPDM-run council in a telephone conversation last Thursday, expressed shock at what happened during the ceremony in Buea
 “It is unbelievable. This is an embarrassment to the Presidency. You don’t joke with the activities of the First lady,” remarked the official, who did not want to be named, because he was not officially  mandated to publicly react to the unfortunate incident.
(First published in The RECORDER Newspaper,Cameroon,of September 15,2014)

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