Friday, June 19, 2015

Assault on Chief Abia & burning down of his palace: Offenders jailed & fined to pay 50m FCFA !

Chief Boniface Abia
By Christopher Ambe
Nhuan Boniface Nhwuasoh Abia II, traditional ruler of Babensi 1 in Nguti subdivision of the Southwest Region,who was  assaulted by his own subjects and whose palace valued at over 40 million Fcfa was razed by  irate villagers forcing  him to flee his  village for about two years,  has been given justice by a court ruling.
    Those who assaulted him and burned down his palace have been sentenced to jail terms and or fined to pay millions of Francs FCFA in damages.
     The chief has since his assault been living in Buea for fear of his safety. Babensi 1 is a village with a population over 1500 inhabitants, along the Kumba-Mamfe road.
    Chief Abia, who was enthroned in May 2009, told The Recorder that  he never had any   opposition to his enthronement.
    The story goes that during a funeral of a soldier, Adjudant Chef-Major Ngwe Bernard Ewoundo in Babensi 1,in  April 2013, the soldier’s relative publicly accused one Daniel Ebue Esaka of killing him through witchcraft. Shocked by the revelation, a gang of village mourners immediately rushed for Esaka who also attended the funeral and started beating him to force him confess. 
    For fear that the mob could kill Mr. Esaka,Chief Abia  who also attended the burial immediately stepped in and  was trying to discourage mob justice.
    But some irate villagers instead fell on him and got him beaten, accusing him of being a co-killer-occultist. It was thanks to the efforts of some villagers that Chief Abia was rescued from his attackers and taken back to his palace.
    Suspecting  that Chief Abia who already sustained injuries could be further attacked, Chief Eseme of a neighboring village (Kokobuma) came and took Chief Abia to the former’s palace where he was administered First Aid  ahead of a planned medical check elsewhere.
     The gang that had beaten Chief Abia later stormed his Babensi 1 palace, apparently believing that he was in so that they could continue their assault on him.
 But unfortunately for them Chief Abia was not there.
    Angered by his absence, the reportedly gang ordered Chief Abia’s relations who were in the palace to come out from it, or be burnt alive with the palace.  And when the threatened relatives ran out for safety, the gang set ablaze the over 30 million Fcfa palace with all its valuables.
    Meanwhile Mr. Esaka Daniel, who was badly beaten and injured, was only rescued by some military men who had accompanied the corpse of their colleague for the burial.Mr. Esaka was then rushed to Limbe Reference Hospital for serious medical attention.
    Chief Abia, who is a retired Senior Inspector of Treasury, then lodged a criminal complaint against his 17 attackers to seek for justice, which resulted to their prosecution at Bangem Court of First Instance, presided at by Magistrate (Mrs) Nchak Comfort Yufounyui Ngum.
    The 17 accused  faced a three-count charge: count 1-simple  harm contrary to and punishable under Section 280 of the penal Code;count 2- arson contrary to and punishable under Section 227(1)(a) of the Penal Code and count 3- slight harm contrary to and punishable under Section 281 of same.
        After an examination of the evidence before her and submissions of counsels, the magistrate recently found 13 of the 17 accused guilty of the offences of simple harm, slight harm and arson. Three of the 17 were discharged.
    For count 1, the convicted were each sentenced to pay a fine of 200,000 FRS or serve nine months imprisonment in default of payment. For count 2, the convicted were each sentenced to pay a fine of 500,000 FRS or serve 18 months imprisonment in default of payment. For count 3, the convicted were each sentenced to pay a fine of 50.000 FRS or serve six months imprisonment in default of payment.
    Concerning the civil claim, the court ordered that both Mr.Daniel Ebue Esaka and Chief Boniface N. Abia,both the prosecution witnesses and civil claimants who testified having suffered financial and material losses as a result of the commission of these offences as well as psychological torture, be compensated. The court ordered that the“convicts shall compensate the civil claimants with the sum of fifty million (50,000,000) francs CFA for damage caused to them as a result of the offences which they committed. This shall be jointly and severally”
    The  Court ordered that the sentences shall run concurrently; that the convicts shall bear the cost of proceedings valued at 876.310FCFA, which shall be divided amongst the convicts.
    Imprisonment warrants were issued against all the convicts. They include: Akama Johnson,Esape N. Henry,Ekoko Asick Armstrong,Ewunsoh Galeb Abia,Ehape Abel Enombo,Asue David Awah,Ekoko Peter Ahape, Ahape Gabriel,Abia Ferdinand Ewunsoh,Nguti Edward, Elobi Alexamder Kinjoh,Anyie Peter,Eleh Simon Akepa and Akame Ejabi James.
    The Recorder gathered that, despite the notice of ten days within which any dissatisfied party could lodge an appeal against the judgment, the deadline expired without any appeal registered. #
(First published in The RECORDER Newspaper,Cameroon,of June 10,2015)

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