There has been widespread anger and condemnation after a video emerged showing a man beating up a lawyer. The incident happened last week in Tiko, a town in the south West region of Cameroon. Mimi Mefo Info reached out to the lawyer, Egbe Evelyn who works at the Nnoko Ngaaje Chambers and Paul Sinju who is currently detained at the Gendarmerie for his action.
Evelyn says she was receiving clients, Paul Sinju’s step brother and a pastor, when her assailant walked into the office and began raining insults on her. He would later assault her she adds. Paul Sinju however says he was simply acting in self-defense as she hit him first.
“… She pulled out the broom first … I accept my actions were wrong but I was defending myself” he tells MMI.
Evelyn denies the assertion, stating that she was retaliating to his action and that the video trending online does not show all that happened.
She says “when he entered the office he started shouting furiously and pointing at me saying ‘so you are the one advising them, you are the one doing all this, you don’t have any right you small rat’, he started ranting and throwing insult at me …”
The war of words she adds ensued, and got more heated when he asked her to begin paying rents to him and not his step brother. “He got furious as I asked him to go out … he pushed me and I almost fell … as I was struggling I saw a broom under the table, that’s when I held it and struggled to hit him …”
Origin of the heated exchange
Why did Paul Sinju visit the lawyer’s chambers in the first place? He says there has been a succession dispute since their father died years back, and he believes the lawyer who is one of their tenants has been influencing his step brother with whom he has a disagreement.
He says “… the lady is manipulating my brother and me. … she wants to manipulate my kid brother so she can pay cheaper rents…”
After visiting the gendarmerie where his step brother, Denis Sinju had filed a complaint against him, he says he was asked to go make peace in his family. Curious of what the lawyer had told his stepbrother, he proceeded to her office where he met her talking with the stepbrother and a pastor.
Initially declared wanted, Paul Sinju says he believes the authorities are not making life any easier for him after the incident that has already tarnished his reputation.
He says “I was in court on Thursday morning and they started to turn me around. I spent the night at the gendarmerie and I was taken to the court the following day …they waited till 8PM then told me to be patient, that I will be heard on Tuesday. They said there was a lot of pressure because my case is now international.”
He thinks he could have been heard on Thursday if the company commander had played his part: “The Commander was supposed to take me to the court so we could talk to the state counsel for conditions of bail but he said he had a mission and spent the whole day in Limbe so they never took me to court”
Paul Sinju adds that they denied his request for bail, asking that he presents a lawyer.
“…I came to the gendarmerie myself, they did not arrest me so they could release me and ask me to return on Tuesday…” he tells us.
He is however not the only one worried about his reputation as well as his wellbeing. The lawyer in question has similar concerns. She says last week’s incident in her office has left her deeply hurt.
“It’s affecting me a lot because he has assaulted me, destroyed my reputation. So many people are giving their own interpretation concerning the video. They didn’t know what happened before I had to take a broom to defend myself and he violated the lawyer’s office which we know very well that by the bar laws you are not supposed to enter a lawyer’s office uninvited. So it is really terrible, I am really going through a lot psychologically even though people are telling me to be strong, it’s not easy because whenever I think of it, I cry a lot. It is painful within me; everybody is talking about me … I was really hurt” she says.
Despite all that has happened, Evelyn is willing to let go, if only her assailant will show remorse and take responsibility for his action. “I want him to pay because it was an assault on me. I want him to pay for damages. But if he still has a conscience then he can approach me for an apology. I will not deny because we know we all make mistakes and whenever somebody opens the mouth and says I am sorry, we accept it.”
She adds that the law too has to take its course as the case is no longer just about her as an individual. “… the law is also there. We are in Cameroon. The law also has to be discussed but if he should even say he is sorry I will accept it” she tells us.
Among the bodies that reacted to the incident is the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) which addressed a complaint to the State Counsel for Tiko.
The Nnoko Ngaaje Chambers where the incident took place also launched a complaint to the Tiko State Counsel, pressing for action to be taken.
The suspect, the chambers stated, “… also destroyed two office chairs and a table and many other vital documents belonging to some clients, ransacked the office and also carted away with the sum of 1,000,000 FCFA … Belonging to a client.”
It added that “… Our client sustained several injuries on her body and was rushed to the General Hospital in Tiko … Sir, we will be grateful if you can use your good office to bring the suspect to book.”
This is a developing story and more updates will be provided as they are received by MMI.
Mimi Mefo Info