By Tata Mbunwe
More than 20,600 people have signed an online petition calling for the resignation of Laurent Esso, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, after he was implicated in the murder of popular radio host, Martinez Zogo.
The petitioners find it outrageous that the Minister of Justice is being ‘entangled’ in a murder case when he is supposed to be the flag bearer of justice.
According to them, the 81-year-old should resign and submit himself to ongoing investigations Government launched last month to track down the late journalist’s killers.
“We, citizens from here and elsewhere, ask you, dear Mr. Laurent Esso, to resign from your position as Minister of Justice, Keeper of the Seals, and to voluntarily place your cause under the hammer of the law and of the judges, so that your innocence or your guilt may be fully established by the rigors and the rigors alone of the investigations and court proceedings,” reads part of the petition that has launched on change.org website.
Minister Laurent Esso was among several top Government officials who were named in a confession made by Lieutenant Colonel Justin Danwe, Director of Special Operations at the secret service, who is being investigated in relation to the Martinez Zogo case.
In a testimony told to investigators, Danwe said Minister Laurent Esso gave final orders to Martinez Zogo’s abductors to “finish him.”
“Mr. Laurent Esso, Minister of Justice, you are under serious suspicion! Have the decency to resign and put yourself at the disposal of Justice,” the petitioners have stated.
“The national and international opinion learns from journalistic sources so far not contradicted by any official source; that it is Mr Laurent Esso, in person, 81 years old, former Minister of State, Minister of Justice, Keeper of the Seals since 2011, who, by telephone, asked Mr Amougou Belinga , assisted by his accomplices torturers, secret service personnel, who cruelly attacked the journalist, to “FINISH THE WORK.”
“Politically irresponsible” silence
Amid the shocking accusations levied against him, Minister Laurent Esso has not issued any public statement regarding the Martinez Zogo case.
The petition calling for his resignation comes a week after Douala-based television station, Equinoxe, reported that President Paul Biya had ordered that the Minister be questioned in relation to the allegations against him.
Meanwhile, the online petitioners believe Minister Laurent Esso’s utmost silence on the case is “so morally obscene and politically irresponsible that it reinforces the suspensions of his guilt and weakens the execution of justice.”
“This disturbing circumstance also reinforces against him the suspicion spread by the rumours of other murders that he would have ordered or covered up at other times,” they furthered.
The petitioners say it is “extremely rare or unprecedented” to find the Minister of Justice being entangled in a heinous act as the killing of journalist Martinez Zogo.
The 51-year-old managing director of Amplitude FM, a private radio station in Yaounde, was abducted on January 17, killed and his mutilated body dumped on the outskirts of Yaounde on January 22.
On January 23, the government announced that investigations were ongoing on the case and, a few days later, announced that several suspects had been arrested concerning the case.
Among the suspects arrested is media billionaire Jean Pierre Amougou Belinga, who is alleged to have sponsored the abduction and murder of Martinez Zogo.
His lawyers, Battonier Charles Tchoungang, however refuted his involvement and termed all reports implicating him as false.
After Lt Col. Justin Danwe’s confessions, which implicated Minister Laurent Esso, Reporters Without Borders termed Martinez Zogo’s murder a state crime, as it also involved several members of the secret service, including its boss, Maxime Eko Eko.
On Saturday, February 18, Danwe’s lawyer, Barrister Jaques Mbouny, in an interview, denied reports that his client mentioned Minister Laurent Esso in his testimony to investigators about the murder of Martinez Zogo.
Please find the petition here
Mimi Mefo Info