Atlantic Chronicles

CUIB Saga: Court Stays Execution Of Bishop’s Appointment

Education, NEWS

BUEA, Cameroon – The Fako High Court has halted the appointment made recently in the Catholic University Institute of Buea, CUIB, citing a violation of the law in place.

This was the decision of the Fako High Court, with Magistrate Denis Abonifor, who stayed the execution of the recent appointment in CUIB, by the Apostolic Administrator, pending a ruling on the originating process, suit No.HCF/13OM/2020.

According to the court; “the ruling is predicated upon a motion ex parte filed at the Registry of this Court on the 19th of June 2020”.

This follows a recent shake-up at CUIB by the Apostolic Administrator of the Buea Catholic Diocese, Mgr. Michael Bibi.

The changes had seen the Pro-Chancellor and President, Rev. Father George Nkeze, replaced by Prof. Julius Victor Ngoh.

However, the replaced Nkeze would not back down as he later engaged a legal suit.

That started the Bibi-Nkeze rift which has made the Roman Catholic institution the centre of discussion across the Diocese and the country.

On Tuesday, June 23, the court ruled that the applicant, through counsel prayed the court for the following: “An order of this honourable court restraining the respondent herein from implementing the decision titled ‘Appointment in the Catholic University Institute of Buea (C.U.I.B)’ until the determination of suit No.HCF/13OM/2020.

“And for any other further order(s) that this honourable court shall deem fit and proper to make in the paramount interest of justice,” the ruling stated.

According to Justice Abonifor, the said application is made in the interest of justice and that the application will be greatly prejudiced if Annexture A is implemented.

“I hold that substantial justice demands that this court restrain the respondent from implementing the said decision until the originating process is heard.

“I found that the said application is grounded both in fact and law,” he said.

Canon Law Versus Cameroon Law 

The infighting between the Apostolic Administrator and the Rev. Father Nkeze has pushed many people to question who is in control of the citadel of learning.

When Nkeze refused to acknowledge his sacking, Mgr. Bibi said he was in charge as the Diocese overseer and had the right to step in and put an order when there is a default.

Father Nkeze had earlier argued that CUIB has some autonomy which does not allow the Apostolic Administrator to intervene. 

He went further to state that his mandate had not finished at the time he was removed from office.

These divergent views drew the attention of the Apostolic Nuncio, Julio Murat, who, in a release, supported the decision of taken by the Diocese’s shepherd, Michael Bibi.

He stated that the Apostolic Administrator has jurisdiction within the Diocese of Buea to act for and on behalf of the Diocese of Buea in all matters concerning the Diocese and all other institutions belonging to the Diocese.

“The Apostolic Administrator is the legitimate authority over all Priests, religious and any other personnel within the Diocese of Buea and reserves the right to appoint, transfer, remove or dismiss persons according to the prescription of the code of Canon Law and the specific instructions given to him by the Holy See,” the Pope’s Representative to Cameroon wrote.

While some think Bibi is on the right, others have said the court is right to halt the Bishop’s decision.

However, Nkeze has been criticised by many Catholic flock for mistaking CUIB for a personal property.

It remains to be seen whether the Vatican would respect the Cameroon court’s injunction regarding CUIB’s imbroglio, or the court’s decision will prevail.

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