By Andrew Nsoseka
Some prisoners of the Anglophone Cause in Cameroon were, on December 14, freed at the Buea military tribunal, following an order reportedly from the Presidency, instructing the judicial authorities to discontinue court proceedings against some of the accused who had spent some time in detention.
The detainees, who were held at the Buea Central Prison, were transported to the military tribunal where the court cases against them were officially dropped in a court room presided by Colonel Jeremie Ndjeheha, President of the Military Court, and Lieutenant Colonel Abou’ou Aka’a, Commissioner for the Military Tribunal in Buea, Southwest regional capital.
About 60 detainees were present. Asked why all 99 decreed by the President’s order were not present, Lieutenant Colonel Abou’ou Aka’a told the press: “I want to reassure you that those who were not in court and those who have been released were all beneficiaries, because, some of the beneficiaries had been granted bail. For those who benefited but were already granted bail, we will let them know that they benefited. We will send the information to every beneficiary today, we will notify them of the President’s decision so that they know that the court proceedings have been stopped.”
Talking about the order to free the accused, Lieutenant Colonel Abou’ou Aka’a said: “The goal of justice is to reinstall peace. In this Region, we know the necessity for peace. We want to let people know that you can be prosecuted at the military tribunal and be released with no condition. This is about the grace of the President of the Republic.”
She said, during normal court proceedings, some inequities, non-respect of human rights were identified by court officials and reports were made to hierarchy, “to let them know that that is the situation, the response was satisfactory, we are satisfied with the response from hierarchy, the Presidency of the Republic, who gave instruction to us to stop these proceedings because we will not continue in that way.”
Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho appreciated the decision of President Biya to free 289 detainees, but that others, including Seseku Ayuk Tabe and Co. should be freed and a broad-base dialogue initiated. He said calls for a broad-base inclusive dialogue should be heeded in order to solve the problem, and for peace to reign.
Barrister Evans Lohtabu Tingom, lead counsel for the detainees, appreciated the decision, but said: “I am not totally satisfied because we still have many others in detention, those freed are happy but it has created a wound in those that are left behind. What was the criterion in choosing these particular ones and what are the criteria in leaving those others behind. We pray that this should be a stepping stone for the Head of State to solve this crisis. He should send another communiqué for others to be released.”
He also urged the released to be exemplary, while chastising the rampant acts of kidnap and demand for ransom, orchestrated by some armed groups.
A parent, Prisca Ani Ndasi, mother to Theodore Fonakem, an IT Engineer who was released, expressed her joy by singing and dancing.
“For one year and four months, with my child going through this for nothing, today is the happiest day of my life… I believe it is a step forward towards the solution to our problem. I know from here something great will happen.”