“The family of Samuel Wazizi is now scattered. His daughter is now an orphan. The fact that the body of Samuel Wazizi has not been handed to the family by the government is traumatising,” Barrister Nkea Emmanuel told Mimi Mefo Info reporters in his law firm in Buea South West region of Cameroon.
The lead lawyer defending the Cameroonian journalist who died in military custody expresses indignation over government’s handling of the death of the journalists.
“The defense team of Wazizi has written to the government requesting that the ministry of defence should not be part of an independent inquiry announced by president Paul Biya. This is because the ministry of defence and the delegation of national security are key suspects of the death of Wazizi in detention. Unfortunately , the independent inquiry has not been put in place”.
To the human rights lawyer, government’s lukewarm attitude towards unraveling the truth about how Wazizi died and where the body has been deposited “… suggests that government has something to hide”.
As government continues to maintain sealed lips one year after Equinoxe television announced the death of the journalist on June 1st, 2020 in detention and later confirmed by the head of the communication service at the ministry defence, Bar. Nkea Emmanuel says they have filed another habeas corpus at the Buea Court of Appeal calling on the judges to ensure the provision of Samuel Wazizi either dead or alive.
As the legal battle persists, Viban Jude, president of Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists ( CAMASEJ) says the association has been engaged in advocacy to get the body of Samuel.
Though Viban Jude turned down request to state concrete steps CAMASEJ has taken, he regrets that defending lawyers and Wazizi’s family have not been collaborating with journalists for a positive solution.
“Government has been struggling to justify the death of Wazizi but we are not convinced by their explanation,” Mr. Viban stated.
While admitting that nothing at this stage can change what has happened to Wazizi, the president of CAMASEJ insists that the advocacy is focusing on preventing such a thing from happening to any other journalist in Cameroon.
Samuel Wazizi, according to the government, died on the 17th of August 2019 of severe sepsis in a hospital. To Cyril Serge Atongfack Nguemo, head of the communication service at the ministry of defence, Wazizi took ill while in detention and was taken to the hospital where be died. The ministry says the family was informed to get the body yet they never showed up. A claim the family has debunked.
Following the incident, several rights groups and associations condemned the government, calling for an independent inquiry.
Mimi Mefo Info.