Friday, April 28, 2017

Anglophone Lawyers Divided Over Resumption Of Work On May 2

Anglophone lawyers are divided over the announced resumption of work on 2 May after a 6 months strike. Several lawyers have said they remain in doubt as if work will effectively resume. Barrister Christopher Ndong Nveh has said that Cameroon lawyers will resume work only if certain conditions are met. The respected man of law also revealed that “As long as our fellow lawyers and demonstrators are not released, we will not resume work.”

Barrister Christopher Ndong was reacting to a declaration made by B√Ętonnier, Jackson Ngnie Kamga. . Jackson Kamga stated that the decision was reached after an effective implementation of the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee that were addressed by Prime Minister Philemon Yang and approved by President Biya. Speaking of the recent decisions announced by the Minister of Justice, Laurent Esso, Barrister Ndong pointed out that the Justice Minister was merely playing games with the Anglophone lawyers. “You cannot make a mockery of lawyers.This means that these measures must go through a bill and table in the National Assembly to obtain a law. In this way, we will see the good faith of the government.” added Barrister Ndong.

But the President of the Cameroon Bar Council, Barrister Jackson Ngnie Kamga, told reporters on April 8, in Limbe, that his colleagues of the Northwest and Southwest Regions have resolved to resume work on May 2. He said he was just coming from Buea where he had been in conclave with 10 senior advocates from the Northwest and 10 from the Southwest Region led, respectively, by Barrister Luke Sendze and Barrister Eta Besong Jr; all former Bar Presidents. The Bar President in an interview stated that the lack of confidence between the Anglophone lawyers and Government, and the doubts expressed, lately, by some Anglophone lawyers to the genuineness of Government’s readiness to implement the decisions regarding the lawyers’ demands, as announced by the Minister of Justice over a week ago, was one of the main reasons why the lawyers were still reluctant to resume work.

The Bar President said the lawyers have also been insisting that Government must first release their detained colleagues and others in Yaounde before they can resume work and resume dialogue.But Kamga argued that since Government has also made some concessions, which is a sign of good faith, it was incumbent on the Anglophone lawyers to also show some magnanimity by resuming work. He said resuming work was going to give him the latitude to further his negotiations with Government to cause the release of their two colleagues, Barrister Agbor Balla and Walters Abadem. Besides the above named lawyers, there are also others like Barrister Robert Fon Nso, Professor Chia Martin, Mancho Bibixy, Dr. Fantom Neba, Ayah Paul Abine, Tim Finian, Atia Tilarious, Amos Fofung and more than 50 others who had been arbitrarily arrested, transferred to Yaounde and detained.

The Bar President said the conclave he had with lawyers in Buea came out with two resolutions.“After the conclave in Buea, the lawyers, after recognizing the efforts Government has made to resolve their problems, also decided to show good faith by resuming work on May 2,” Barrister Kamga said. On whether the lawyer’s decision to resume work meant ending their strike, the Bar President insisted that the lawyers never talked of the strike. “Resume work is what they said while waiting for the Government to implement the measures announced over a week ago by the Minister of Justice.” 

By dint of this move by Anglophone lawyers, Kamga said he was boosted to “continue negotiations for the release of their two colleagues and also for the Government to answer to the other demands tabled before it which occasioned the strike at the onset.”

The Bar President said the decision by the lawyers to resume work was taken simply in good faith without any preconditions. But he said it would be difficult for him to just negotiate for the release of their colleagues as they and some 25 others have all been charged under one single suit going by the Yaounde Military Tribunal’s ruling of April 7.

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