The joint trial of the Archbishop of Bamenda, Mgr. Cornelius FontemEsua; Bishop of Kumbo, Mgr George Nkuo; Auxiliary Bishop of Bamenda, Mgr. Michael Bibi,and the Executive President of the Cameroon Baptist Convention, CBC, Godwill Chiatoh Ncham, which was supposed to begin at the Bamenda Magistrate Court today, Monday, June 5, has again been postponed again.
Barrister Julius NguTabe Achu, the lead legal counsel for the consortium of parents that dragged the church leaders to court, told The Post, when contacted by phone in the evening of Saturday, June 3, that they have requested the Bamenda Magistrate Court to take a new date for the case, because he is not feeling well. But he said, though they have made a proposal to the court for the new date, it will be for the court to either confirm the date or give a different date.
The church leaders were dragged to court by the purported consortium of patents on a 7-count charge, including an accusation that the church leaders collected school fees from students in their different confessional schools but refused to re-open their schools, and that the church leaders allegedly propagated false information, among others.
The consortium of parents is also claiming from the church leaders billions of FCFA.
The case was first billed for last April 21, but was postponed to June 5, under the pretext that the judiciary was bereaved (see The Post No. 1814 Friday, April 21, 2017).
The Archbishop of Bamenda, Mgr. Cornelius Fontem Esua, declared in April that he would like the case to be heard rapidly by the court, so that the matter can also be rapidly cleared.
But The Post has learnt that the real reason for continuous postponement of the opening of the case is that the Government got really frightened with the way Christians in Bamenda,in particular, and the Northwest Region, in general,mobilised in their thousands to storm the court on the day that their church leaders were to appear in court on April 21.
Our source said that, in the light of the massive mobilisation of christians to jam the court, the Government does not want the case to go ahead, in a bid to avoid the Anglophone Crisis taking another dimension.
But, at the same time, the Government has not told the so called consortium of parents to drop the case. To leave the matter to hang in court, at least, for now, looks like another strategy by Government to use the matter to blackmail on the church leaders.
Achu Criticises Halle’s Crusade
Meanwhile, contacted by The Post on June 3, Barrister Julius Achu also reacted to the ongoing lobby by the Peace Crusader, Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle, who is pleading to the Head of State to grant general amnesty to all Anglophones arrested in connection to the ongoing Anglophone Crisis, and that the general amnesty should include putting a stop to the cases filed by the consortium of parents in Bamenda and Buea against church leaders in Anglophone Cameroon.
Barrister Achu said it is the right of Barrister Halle,like any other Cameroonian, to lobby for anything from the Head of State.
“If he succeeds, then fine. I am a democrat and so I have no problem with him taking a position. But the problem with Anglophones is that, when it comes to me using my democratic rights to take my own independent position on a matter, I am faced with death threats.
Some people think you must take a position not according to your democratic rights, but according to their own dictates”, Achu frowned.
Achu, a former Treasurer of the Cameroon Bar Council, after acknowledging the fact that it is right of Barrister Halle, who is also the President of the General Assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association to lobby for general amnesty, however,criticised Barrister Halle for not looking at issues objectively.
“Ntumfor wants amnesty for the church leaders. What about the parents who paid huge sums of money as fees for the 2016/17 academic year to confessional schools run by these church leaders, and the church leaders refused to re-open their schools?
Why does Ntumfor not also think about the rights of these parents who want their money back? Well, if Ntumfor is prepared to reimburse those parents on behalf of his church leaders, then, fine,”Achu said.
Barrister Achu who is a staunch CPDM militant, in what looked like toeing the party line, found another fault with Barrister Halle’s lobby for President Biya to grant general amnesty.
“What Ntumfor is doing is against the spirit of his recent appointment by President Biya as member of the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism.”
CPDM party line which is respected by CPDM elite, requires that, if President Biya appoints somebody to a post, the person must, in return, toe the line by becoming an unconditional supporter of the regime and cannot take any position against the regime’s policies.
But Barrister Nico Halle holds that he is an independent personality and does not play party politics.
Father And Son
Professionally speaking, Barrister Achu is the first son of Barrister Halle, having been the first pupil lawyer that Halle trained.
Last year, Barrister Achu was the Chairman of the Organising Committee for the celebration of Barrister Halle’s 30 years of legal practice.
Also, when Barrister Halle was elected President of the General Assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association at the end of January 2015, Achu was designated as the Littoral Representative of the Bar GA President.
The Post Newspaper