The Cameroon judicial system is witnessing a battle for supremacy between the public bench and the private bench.
In one week, four lawyers have been remanded in custody at the New Bell Central Prison in Douala. This is not all. Reliable sources at the judicial sector in Douala have confirmed to Mimi Mefo Info that the Yaounde administration has demanded the arrest of at least fifteen other lawyers in Douala.
According to our source who spoke on grounds of anonymity, “There is a list of some fifteen lawyers at the judicial police in Douala. Their arrest and subsequent prosecution is linked to the confrontation between lawyers and the military at the Bonanjo Court of First Instance on November 10, 2020”.
Barristers Tamfu Ngarka Triestel Richard and Armel Tchueumegne Kenmegne, remanded in custody in connection to the courtroom showdown, are due to stand trial at the Bonanjo Court of First Instance on Monday, November 23, 2020.
The lawyers have been charged among other things with destruction and contempt to authorities. Their charges are contained in section 154,169 and 316 of Cameroon’s penal code.
In the face of all these, the Cameroon Bar Association has mainly condemned the action while calling on lawyers to remain calm.
In a press conference in Yaounde granted by the interim president of the Bar Council, Barrister Marie Claire Atangana Bikouna remarked that the issue will be targeted head on after the burial of Batonier Tchakonte Patie Charles.
Her approach to the situation of lawyers arrested in Douala following their brutality by the military in a court room has been criticized.
“The bar has been politicized. The majestracy is out to crush lawyers and thereby sending a strong message to the people of Cameroon that those they are counting on to defend them in courts are powerless. This is a terrible situation that demands a strong, vibrant and impartial leadership at the helm of the Bar. If the magistracy achieve their aim then, the executive and the magistracy will deal with Cameroonians,” a lawyer told Mimi Mefo Info.
Barrister Tamfu Richard was “kidnapped” by plaincloth policemen in Akwa, Douala on Wednesday, November 18, 2020.
“I was called by a policeman who pretended to be a client. He said we should meet in a hotel in Akwa. I drove there with a friend and out of a sudden four policemen in civilian wear appeared and told me the commissioner at the judicial police wanted to see me.I asked them to present the warrant of arrest but they did not have. When I tried calling the commissioner to find out, the policemen grabbed me, seized the phone and bundled me into their car leaving my car there,” he explains.
He decries his detention conditions at the Bonanjo judicial police. “We slept in deplorable places. Lots of human rights abuses committed with impunity”.
Barristers Tamfu Richard and Armel Tchueumegne Kenmegne are in custody at the New Bell central prison in Douala looking forward for their first appearance yin court tomorrow Monday, November 23rd.
By Mbatho Ntan
Mimi Mefo Info