By Tata Mbunwe
Lawyers defending Kongnso Antoinette Gohla, an eight-month pregnant woman tortured and arrested by a military officer in Buea, say they are disheartened after being threatened by the presiding judge during the hearing at the Fako High Court 1 in Buea this Tuesday, October 26.
After adjourning the case for a second time to November 9, the judge warned the lawyers against granting press interviews, stating if they must do so, they should only reiterate the court’s ruling.
Barrister Edward Ewule Lyonga (main applicant), alongside Barristers Tamfu Richard, Hilary Abia, Ligenju Vitalis and others, say they are also amazed by the laxity with which the court treats the fundamental human rights case.
Barrister Ewule and his team had filed a case against the Buea legion commander and the Central Prison superintendent who have collaboratively detained the woman incommunicado for almost a month now.
“After the matter was adjourned to the 9th of November, the other lawyers and I went outside, but the judge called us back into the court and warned us about talking to the press. I don’t know whether the law says lawyers should not grant press interviews after a court session. The law only tells us not to disclose the substance of the case,” said Barrister Ewule Lyonga.
“We feel highly intimidated, but nevertheless, we will continue the case. We decry the further adjournement to the 9th of November when cases like this need to be treated very fast,” Ewule furthered.
According to Barrister Tamfu Richard, “It will not be an overstatement to say that what is happening today is beyond understanding with respect to our criminal procedure code. We have the impression that we are not before a court of law…”
While in court, Tamfu says they “wanted to make an observation which she gave a deaf ear to the observation and adjourned the case to the 9th of November which to us, when it comes to human liberties, this is a very far date.”
“The habeas corpus procedure should not be downgraded or baffled with. I think here, we are not doing justice and to add to it we instead received threats; cautioning words. We are before that court, it’s on a special procedure habeas corpus. We are not before an examining magistrate,” Barrister Tamfu added.
There are at least 11 lawyers advocating for the release of Antoinette Kongso who has not been seen, neither by her lawyers, nor by her husband, since she was taken from her home.
“So far the team of lawyers who are representing eight-month pregnant madam Antoinette have not been able to gain access into wherever she has been kept to have a word with her as in the law; as embedded in the Criminal Procedure Code, which is the bible; which is the master piece of criminal proceedings in this country,” said Barrister Hillary Abia.
“This is a fundamental human rights matter which has been carved in our criminal procedure code as haebeas corpus and a fundermental human rights matter is supposed to be heard rapidly, expeditiously. If two weeks have been given from today, automatically it is the second leg; it is the continuation of the deprivation of the fundamental human rights of the eight-month pregnant madam Antoinette,” he added.
Kongso Antoinette was arrested by overzealous Buea Chief and military man, John Ewome, commonly called Moja Moja, on October 2.
She was accused of being the wife of dreaded separatist “general” No Pity. From our investigations, the woman however ended relations with the said separatist fighter over five years ago after she married Clovis Sima Shiynyuy, a builder.