Of all people, the President of the National Communication Council, NCC, Peter Essoka is yet to react to the death in military custody of journalist Samuel Wazizi.
The man who interprets for President Paul Biya seems to have forgotten all about his decades of journalism practice, to the point that he cannot even call injustice by its name.
Aside being journalist, Peter Essoka is the current President of the African Communication Regulatory Authorities Network, ACRAN – a 35-member network.
Created in Libreville, Gabon in 1998, Mimi Mefo Info understands that the African Communication Regulatory Authority Network – ACRAN has as mission to promote press freedom and exchange on media regulation.
“One cannot expect much from Peter Essoka. The NCC is a way for President Paul Biya to compensate him for interpreting his addresses to the nation. It is funny that he is President of ACRAN that seeks to promote press freedom but is rather specialized in clamping down the media,” a local journalist told Mimi Mefo Info, but opted for anonymity fearing reprisals.
It is the same Essoka who in 2017 president of National Communication Council, threatened to suspend or shut down any media organization disseminating “seditious” content regarding demonstrations for secession or federalism in Anglophone regions, according to press reports.
Essoka named newspapers Le Messager, Cameroon Post, The Guardian Post, The Times Journal, broadcasters Equinoxe TV, Spectrum TV, Canal 2 International, and some community radio stations as allegedly supporting the protests.
A statement issued by military spokesperson Colonel Cyrille Serge Atonfack Guemo, which CPJ reviewed, alleges that Wazizi died of severe sepsis on August 17, 2019. The statement denied that Wazizi had been tortured or abused, and said that the journalist’s family had been in contact with him in custody.
Wazizi’s sister-in-law, Metete Joan Njang, told CPJ Friday, June 5, 2020 in a phone interview that the journalist’s family had not been able to contact him since shortly after his arrest on August 2, 2019, and was not made aware of his death until a news report on June 3.
Police arrested Wazizi on August 2, 2019 and transferred him to military custody on August 7, after which he was held incommunicado, according to CPJ research. His lawyers, family and colleagues say they were left in the dark about Wazizi’s whereabouts until news of his death came.
On May 7, 2020, the High Court of Fako Division Buea, per Mr. Justice Mbonge Wilson Ebong Ngole (President) issued a Ruling rejecting a Habeas Corpus application that sought proof of life for the journalist.
In 2010, journalist Bibi Ngota similarly died while in government custody; his death certificate said he died from a lack of medical attention while in prison, according to CPJ research.
(C) Mimi Mefo Info