Friday, September 29, 2017
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Monday, September 4, 2017
Freed Minority Rights Leader Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho arrived Buea on Friday September 1,2017 and is accorded a
hero's welcome by cherring crowds.The activist(in suit) waves back at them in appreciation
Hundreds of people including rights advocates, on Friday September 1, thronged the residences of Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho(fondly called Balla) and Dr.Fontem Aforteka’a Neba , President and Secretary ,respectively, of the banned Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium(CACSC), as well as the homes of 10 other released Southwest-based activists to celebrate their release from Kondengui Prison ,where they had spent eight months facing trials .
Barrister Nkongho and Dr.Fontem who were part of the coordination of peaceful protests to demand the rights of English-speaking minority in Cameroon, were arrested last January 17 in Buea and jailed in Yaoundé. They were charged, among others, for promoting terrorism, a crime that is punished, maximally, with death.
International and national pressure kept mounting on President Biya to order the release of all those detained in connection with the Anglophone rights protests.
And last August 30, President Biya ordered, through the Secretary-General at the Presidency Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, “ the discontinuance of proceedings pending before the Yaounde Military Court against Messrs Nkongho Felix Agbor,Fontem Aforteta’a, Paul Ayah Abine and some other persons arrested in relation to the violence committed in recent months in the North west and Southwest Regions”
Of the 54 detainees released, who had been arrested in the Northwest Region and Southwest Region 12 are residents of the latter region.
The freed activists were driven to the two Anglophone regions, guarded by armed security men, on board two 70-seater buses.
In Buea, Southwest Governor Bernard Okala Bilai officially received the twelve freed detainees, in front of his office, amid shouts of joy and cheers from the crowd that had turned out to see “a dream come true.”
The Governor, who was accompanied by the DO for Buea,Wokam Paul, told the freed activists that, they were lucky to have benefited from the discretion of President Biya.
He urged them to promote peace and work towards building a stronger and united nation. The Governor then advised them not to slip into such a predicament again.
From the Governor’s office, the freed activists, accompanied by their fans, friends, well-wishers and families were driven to their various homes, where wining and dining greeted their arrivals.
At the residence of Barrister Agbor Nkongho in Federal Quarters the mood was festive; same was the atmosphere at the residence of Dr.Fontem in Santa Babara Quarter.
The two officials of the banned Consortium are yet to make press declarations.
Reacting to their release to this reporter at the residence of Barrister Agbor Nkongho, the Southwest Regional Secretary for the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, Christopher Tambe Tiku, said: “Our position has been clear from the day that they were arrested- that they were innocent and that the rule of law should be respected. I am happy that the Head of State used his wisdom -and may be based on advice from some goodwill Cameroonians that these people were innocent.
|A cross section of lawyers and rights advocates at freed Barrister Nkongho 's Buea residence|
“So what is important now is for us to engage in genuine dialogue. We cannot pretend to say that the Anglophone crisis has been resolved.
“Now that the enabling climate for dialogue is there, let us not compromise the education of our children. Our children must now go to school. I am a lecturer at the University of Buea.I have been teaching other children and I see no reason why mine should be at home instead”
According to Lawyer Samuel Eboa,Fakla coordinator of Buea-based advocates, who was one of the first people to welcome the freed activists when they arrived Buea early Thursday morning, “I am quite elated that they are back home after eight months in isolation..”
|Freed Barrister Nkongho with journalists|
at his Buea residence on Sept.1,2017
To Barrister Ajong Stanislaus, their release is indicative of the President Biya’s acknowledgement “that Balla did not commit any crime. We have taken note”
Also reacting, Lawyer Enow Benjamin said he was happy that Balla is back home.” We hope he would continue the struggle for the rights of citizens of this country.”
Friday, September 1, 2017
By Josiane Kouagheu
YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Dozens of activists from Cameroon’s English speaking community were freed from jail on Friday as the mainly French-speaking nation’s president moved to ease months of tension in its minority regions.
President Paul Biya on Wednesday ordered a military court to drop its prosecution of the detainees, who were arrested following protests launched late last year by anglophones demanding equal treatment.
Around 50 were released from two prisons in the capital Yaounde after midnight. Watched by security forces, a crowd of family members and journalists gathered outside to greet the activists, who then boarded buses that took them home.
“I was in jail for five months. My mother couldn’t visit me,” said one freed detainee, who asked not to be named. “I‘m innocent. I was arrested when I went out to see a gathering of leaders ...I was just getting by. Now I have nothing left.”
Among others freed were civil society leaders Felix Agbor Balla and Fontem Aforteka‘a Neba, arrested in January and being held under anti-terrorism laws enacted in response to incursions in the country’s north by Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
The pair - who pleaded not guilty in February to charges that included complicity in hostility against the homeland, secession and civil war - had faced a potential death sentence if convicted.
Their case added fuel to long-standing opposition in the North-West and South-West regions against President Biya’s francophone-dominated government, which has responded to unrest there with a crackdown.
Biya’s office said the decision to release the detainees reflected the president’s resolve to find a “peaceful solution to crises”.
But an easing of tensions did not appear imminent as others, including well-known radio broadcaster Mancho Bibixy, remained in jail with their cases due to be reviewed at the end of this month.
“Bibixy and the others were only expressing what they thought. They didn’t kill anyone,” Calvin Tah Ndangoh, his lawyer, told Reuters. “We do not know for sure why he wasn’t released.”
Anglophone activists have called for a boycott of the start of the new school year next week.
In response, around 1,000 paramilitary police, including 400 reinforcements, were deployed in the two volatile regions due to the “persistent threat of activists” in a security operation due to last 128 days.
Additional reporting by Anne-Mireille Nzouankeu; Writing by Joe Bavier; editing by John Stonestreet