By Andrew Nsoseka
Barrister Ikome Ngongi and Barrister Agbor Balla, on October 17, were among the cream of lawyers, who seized the Constitutional Council, imploring its members on the precarious situation of the country, especially the crisis that has crippled life in Anglophone regions, culminating in low voter participation.
Taking the stand, Barrister Ngongi dived into the crisis in Former West Cameroons, blaming its negligence by the regime which he said resulted in the timid participation in the election due the boycott across a wide section of the population, as well as the non-participation by thousands who are internally and externally displaced owing to the crisis.
Barrister Ngongi, painstakingly narrated the new way of life in Anglophone regions, the numerous military checks, the burning of villages, the harassment by gunmen, the approach by government, contrasted with the different way reality in other regions, and concluded, “We are really living in two different countries.”
He went on to delve back into the history of the Cameroons, the reunification challenges and agreements which were settled on the choice of Federalism as the best form of governance to address the diversities in the way of living for the two countries, but were later discarded alongside other terms of the reunification thereby forming the bedrock of todays’ crisis in former West Cameroon.
Barrister Ngongi, drew the attention of the members of the Constitutional Council to disturbing and daily occurrences in Former West Cameroons, narrating disturbing killings, harassments, summary executions, brutal punishments, then went on to prick consciences of the members, saying “close your eyes for a moment and imagine, that if one of these people killed were your friends, your brothers or sisters, your son, your daughter, just imagine, close your eyes and tell me, if you were put in the position to go out and vote…Tell me, how do you get so insensitive that one part of our country is burning, and you are here talking about votes, when the very existence of this country is at stake. When did we become so insensitive, that the interest of one person being in power is more important than the collective interest of the country and its people [sic].
He went on to dare the members of the council, to drive back with him to Buea, and have a feel of what citizens of that part of the country are going through, as well as have a look at the deserted communities, now shadows of their former self, as well as the numerous military checks that are now the new way of life in the affected towns.
He quoted the example of the DO of Buea, Paul Woukam, who was shot on election day, in spite of the numerous military guards that he was accorded. Barrister Ngongi then beseeched the Council to think of what the common man will go through, without a single guard. The legal icon went on to quote an example of a polling Centre in Bonduma, where only three people voted, then moved on to mock the system, saying he would not be surprised if the records say 3000 people voted in that post.
On his part, one of the pioneer leaders of the Anglophone struggle, Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho, aka Agbor Balla took the rostrum and reminded the Constitutional Council that “When the voices of the people are not heard, it leads to chaos”.
The human rights defender went on to implore the Council to take a decision for the interest of the country, telling the President of the Council and its members; “If you love this country, take a decision, that posterity will judge you right. Your probity and independence is at stake depending on the judgement you will make…take the decision which will not mar the unity of this nation…. We will go, Cameroon will remain” He declared.
He went on to tell the Council that Professor Kamto defended them,” when our lives were at stake, we were tried for trying to change the form of the state. I am here because Maurice Kamto incarnates values of justice, peace and unity that Cameroon needs. The people voted and the results must reflect their desires” He told the Council.
To the President of the Council, Justice Clement Atangana, Agbor Balla said, “Mr President, the force of your experience should allow you to understand that there is a lack of justice in this country”
The submissions were made by the men of law, standing in for the opposition candidates who had filed against the various loopholes and electoral malpractices which they say were orchestrated to keep the incumbent President Paul Biya in power, to the detriment of Cameroonians who seek justice. They were also vouching for the interest of the Anglophone regions, Former West Cameroons, which is currently going through untold hardship from Government and separatist forces, due to the unaddressed problems that spiralled to a full blown armed conflict.