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The leadership tussle rocking ‘Eglise Evangélique du Cameroun’, EEC, has degenerated.
The new President of the Church, Rev Pastor Jean Samuel Hendje Toya, and his immediate predecessor, Rev Pastor Isaac Batomen Henga, have both been dragged to the Bonanjo Magistrate Court by a group of Pastors and Christians led by the President of the Regional Synod of Wouri, Rev Isédou Kouoh, for electoral fraud and embezzlement.
According to Rev Kouoh, last month’s Elective General Assembly of the church in Ngaoundere was mired in fraud.
The fraud allegations were brought to the fore after the candidate, which the Regional Synod of Wouri invested for the post of President, Rev Pastor Richard Priso Moungole, was defeated.
But his supporters are crying foul.
According to Priso’s camp, the total number of votes cast at the election outnumbered the registered voters.
But this allegation has been roundly refuted by the victorious party in the election.
When the matter came up at the Bonanjo Magistrate Court on May 23, the legal Counsel of the defendants contested the competence of the court to handle the matter.
The advocate insisted that the matter was an internal affair of the church. The Judge was forced to adjourn the case to May 26.
However, on May 26, the Judge said following the claim by the defence Counsel that the court has no competence to handle the matter; he has sent the file to the Attorney General to seek his advice. He then postponed the matter to June 5.
The EEC is one of the biggest Churches in Francophone Cameroon and among the three biggest Churches in Douala.
The church is like an indigenous state religion to the Dualas, which explains why they have practically split on the matter.
Apart from the electoral fraud that allegedly smeared the church’s election, the bone of contention that has split the EEC is the deliberate breach of an agreement that was reached during a meeting in Yabassi in 2009.
During the 2009 conclave, it was reportedly agreed that the post of President should be rotating from one Region to the other.
This was intended to end the West Regional domination of the presidential post for over 15 years. “It is unfair for one Region of the country to monopolise the office of President in the Church,” it was stated.
It was agreed that the presidency of the church will be rotating. “Once a Region that has to take over the post of President presents a unique candidate at the Elective General Assembly, election will be by acclamation.”
Allegation Of Embezzlement
Meanwhile, following the 2009 agreement, it was the turn of the Littoral Region to take over the leadership of the Church from the West Region.
During the Ngaoundere conclave, the Regional Synod of Wouri designated, Rev Richard Priso Moungole as the presidential candidate.
But Rev Priso had reportedly made some declarations, which frightened the outgoing President, Rev Batomen. Priso had promised that if voted President, he will order for an audit into the financial records of his predecessor.
His promise was well acclaimed by Christians, especially the non-Bamilekes.
There were widespread complains about the embezzlement of money of a cooperative society that was set up with contributions from Christians. The financial institution is said to be asphyxiating today.
New Leader Sawa Or Bamileke?
Meanwhile, at the Elective Assembly, Rev. Batomen reportedly outsmarted the Sawa delegation, when he nominated Rev. Hendje Toya, as a presidential candidate, thus violating the 2009 Yabassi agreement. Toya claimed to be a Bassa from Nkam Division in the Littoral Region.
However, the Regional Synod of Wouri, which fielded Rev Priso, insisted that he was the only Sawa candidate for the presidency.
As the debate whether Rev Toya, who hails from North Bakombe that cuts across the Nkam Division in the Littoral Region and Nde Division in the West Region, raged on, the camp led by Rev Kouoh said Rev Toya is a Bamileke, while that of Rev Batomen insisted that Toya is Bassa.
Despite the confusion, both candidates went in for the election and Toya was declared winner.
But the camp supporting Priso accused the outgoing President who coordinated the election of rigging in favour of his candidate.
Ngondo Weighs In
Meanwhile, after the election, Priso’s supporters returned to Douala crying foul that the Sawas have been robbed of their opportunity to head the EEC.
The Secretary General of Ngondo issued a communiqué also condemning the election.
This heightened the animosity in the Littoral Region, as supporters of Toya accused Ngondo of refusing to recognise Toya as a Sawa son from the Nkam Division.
In the Ngondo communiqué, the Sawas threatened to pull out of the EEC, if the ‘wrong was not quickly corrected by allowing a Sawa to head the Church.
In response, the chiefs of Nkam also issued a communiqué, disassociating themselves from the Ngondo press release and recognised Toya as a son of the Division.
Two Camps In EEC
Despite protest by the Doualas and Ngondo, the newly elected five-man National Bureau of the EEC was recently commissioned with the newly elected 24-member Executive Committee of the Church.
But the church is now divided into two warring camps. There is a camp comprising mostly of Bamilekes and Bassas, a bigger camp which is strongly against the election is made up of the indigenes.
Crisis Affects Ascension Day
The EEC crisis took another twist on Ascension Day. Hundreds of Christians of the EEC Bonaberi that turned up for the special Church Service staged a walkout when the Parish Pastor, Rev Samuel Mboma, entered the Church.
An Elder of the Parish told reporters that the Christians and the ‘Villagers of Bele Bele have taken a firm decision that Rev Mboma should leave the Parish and that he has been notified. Rev Mboma is accused of betraying the Dualas.
According to the Elder, they took the decision because during the contested election, Rev Mbona supported Toya against Priso, who is a son-of-the-soil.
When the Christians staged the walk out, some of them tried to organise a Church Service in the Church yard, but the Divisional Officer of Douala IV, Zachaeus Bakoma Elango, rushed to the Church premises with policemen and stopped the Church Service from holding in the Church yard.
According to him, the Church Service was an act of public disorder and a threat to public peace.
He reminded the Christians that the matter concerning the disputed elections is in court and that the Christians must wait for the court to rule on the matter.
The Post Newspaper
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